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Vacation Journal
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Ron and Laura, Feb 12 - 19, 2005. First timers

By: browner1958 (View Profile)
Date: 3/5/2005

Day One:

We got up long before the alarm went off at 9 am. Hustled the kids thru the shower and went over the check lists with them. Dropped them off with the three families they are staying at. Mom won’t take them all together anymore so it’s divide and conquer. Am I feeling guilty for leaving them? In a word, NO!

Back home to finish packing and pick up a few last minute things, like snorkel gear, then it’s off to Flint. We arrive three hours early and the place is already busy. The girl checking us in gives us an emergency exit, Yes! Later we found out she gave us a row BEHIND the emergency exit row, crap.

Had some lunch and a Heineken at the snack bar and started to relax. I don the cd player with the real radio announcer headphones and begin the journal I will keep for the trip. The weather report says it’s 86 in Isla for the next several days. I’m glad the weather is going in our favor.

I knew it was to good to be true. Funjet gets off an hour late from Bishop so now when we land it will be 11:50 instead of 10:50. Since I have absolutely no choice I am goin’ with the flow. We get the green light and race to the front of the airport. Best day is there, great. We tell them who we are and they get on the walkie talkie. The guy comes back and tells us we missed the last ferry at 11pm. Whoa dude, the last ferry doesn’t leave till 12:30 a.m.! that gives you 40 minutes from right now to get us there. Back on the walkie talkie and a heated conversation. Five minutes more of my time is now gone. Ok, the last ferry is at 12:30 but you still missed it. Now I’m getting mad, and I insist to be taken to Grand Puerto. So now Best Day’s customer service representative starts working on the wife who is starting to buy the guys crap. He tells her we missed the ferry, the port is in a bad part of town, he can take us to a nice hotel and we can catch a taxi in the morning to the ferry. I finally realize I’m going to get screwed since (1) I don’t know my way around, and (2) I don’t speak spanish. They drop us off at the Hotel Cancun Handall, $65 us, free breakfast. The room seemed clean but I was pissed. Laura was trying to pass it off as “our 20th anniversary adventure” but I wasn’t buying it.

Day Two:

Good Morning! Bed was as hard as a rock but to a man with a sore back it was heaven. Woke at 7 local time, showered and off to breakfast, by this time my mood was starting to improve. We arrive at Puerto Juarez , “you want some free information?” I think the look on my face was enough to let the time share shark know that I didn’t want to be pissed with. We got off the ferry and walked about a block when Fidel came riding up on his bike. It took us a few minutes to explain to him where we were staying and off we went. We arrived at Elements of the Island about 9 a.m. and were met by the owners Lisa and Ceasar. The breakfast shop looked so nice I was hooked already, so we mounted the stairs and opened the doors to the apartment on the second floor, wow, this is nice. King bed, cable TV, kitchen, balcony. We unpack and I let the rest of my angst seep from my body. As I wrote this in my journal I was listening to the fountain in the space between the restaurant and the apartments. It’s already 78 degrees and the sliding glass doors are open to the deck. Time to find a golf cart.

I’m not sure how we found Ciro’s but it was two blocks behind our apartment (as the crow flies). We checked in with them and rented one of their new carts for 24 hours. These are nice, bright red, lights, horn, backseat, mag wheels and $55 u.s. We dubbed him El Herbie, the gutless wonder.

We traveled along the west side of the island all the way to the south end and learned 2 things: (1) that speed bumps can kill you in a golf cart, and (2) Alto in spanish means: slow down,,, a little,,, if you feel like it. We located the shell house and Jim and Carmita’s Casa de Morgan. Went back to Centro on the east side this time. When we got back we realized that one of Laura’s shoes had jumped off the golf cart, probably near one of those killer speed bumps. Changed clothes and headed south again, picked up cervesas and chips at a little market along the way. Laura kept watching the right side of the road and there it was, the missing shoe! Got to Jim’s at 2 but he’s not home. What’s up with that? One of the people who is staying there says we need to adjust watches from east coast to central time zone, doh! We’ve got an hour to kill and it’s lunch time so we head up the road to El Publito. I had the chicken tacos and Laura had the quesadillas. Good food for a first meal on the island. At Jim’s we meet Jim and Carmita, Arlene, her husband and niece, Freckles and her husband, and a large group of folks from Minnesota. Got to hear Jim’s story of when he interviewed Carmita, what a hoot. Could have stayed all day but by this time I needed a rest.

Hauled Laura out of the bed about 7 p.m. Headed around the corner to Fayne’s. The band was too loud to eat there so we continued down Hidalgo till we got to Malquerida. Was unimpressed by the food but at least we could talk without shouting. On the way back to the room I bought two roses for Laura from a street vendor. One for Valentines Day, and one for our 20th anniversary on the 16th. We were going to walk on the beach but Laura is tired. All the sun and wind wore her out.

The first day ever on the island I couldn’t get over the sensory overload, the sights, smells, and the sounds. Buy the end of the day I had gotten used to it but that first day it was wild. Gotta get some rest now. I can hear the band at Faynes playing quietly through the sliding door. There is also a nice warm breeze making the curtains billow. Tomorrow will be a beach day after we return El Herbie, the gutless wonder.

Day 3:

Woke up about 8, showered and dressed. Got stuff around for the Little Yellow School House. Wanted to east breakfast at CJ Cazuela but it’s closed on Monday, so after wasting a 1/2 hour driving around looking for it we headed south. We had no idea where it was and I couldn’t find it on the map but I kept looking because I knew I’d seen it on there. Finally found it on the map. Kept driving around till I saw the Red Cross building and remembered seeing that on the map next to it. Rounded the corner and there it was. The only one there was Claudia. What a beautiful young woman. She has a smile that would make the Osmonds green with envy. Dropped off the tape deck, Linda’s UNO cards, just a whole buncha stuff for the kids.

Now it’s time to take back El Herbie (the gutless wonder). We drop him off at Ciro’s and head off to find breakfast. We walk one block and find Alexis and Giovanni’s. The breakfast just didn’t do it for me. It was ok but not a trip highlight. After breakfast we headed back to the room to grab the beach stuff. On the way out we settle with Ceasar the owner at Elements of the Island. What a nice guy.

We walk the two blocks to Jax and turn right up the street. When we run out of street (it ends at a gated hotel entrance), we turn left and head down a path toward the water. At the end of the path we are met by a young man who says “you need chairs, cold beer, ocean?” as he jestures toward each. What is this place called? “Sergios” says he. Laura, we have arrived! I find out his name is Jorge (pronounced or-eh, it helps if you can roll the r a little). I tell him he is a legend on the Isla message boards. That makes him laugh.

Laura is drinking Margaritas, Pina Coladas for moi. We spend the next several hours laying on the beach. Laura says her lips are turning numb, cool. At one point Jorge is watching a 20 something barbie doll topless on the beach. He is at the corner of the big green tent watching the fun. I hollar at him asking him what he is watching. He mimes a drool.

After the day at Sergios we need food fast so we sauntered over to Jax. Laura had a hankering for some red meat and I knew a Jax burger would fit the bill. While there we met Dan and Kate on their honeymoon from British Columbia. Cute couple that we kept running into the rest of the week. We split a burger basket and stagered around the corner to Elements for a siesta. Laura was mad becuase I made her wash off the sand before she could lay on the bed. I was NOT sleeping in a pile of sand for the whole week.

While Laura slept off the sun and Sergios margaritas I wandered over to Hidalgo street up the alley that run next to our hotel. It comes out at Chilli Loco’s across from Bamboo’s. Found a store and bought a razor. The one I had was duller than a Barbara Streisand movie. I continued down Hidalgo to Matamoros and turned left. In that block I found the Aqui Pizza that sells pizza by the slice. I bought some spinach pizza that was great. The place is run by a Canadian ex pat. He should have opened a Tim Hortons!

Buy the time I got back Laura was waking up but I was ready for a rest. As I write this I am listening to the sound of the flute player at Faynes playing quietly in the background while the fountain in the courtyard splashs below the balcony of our room. I am reminded of something Jorge said when I asked him how he was doing “Ah, just another shitty day in Paradise” and he smiled.

Day 4:

I have no idea what got into Laura but she was up at six thirty wanting to know if I wanted to go out for a walk. “Yes, but I’d prefer to do it during the day!” says I, as I pulled the pillow over my head. Thirty minutes later I was following her south on Medina wishing for a Starbucks, “just put the I.V. in this arm por favor”.

We had passed it the day before so finding M.J. Cazuella was easy today. Pedro our waiter brought over coffee and I slowly felt the life return to my lifeless body. We were having a nice conversation with a couple from New York when Arlene showed up with her posse. We finished off the cazuella while looking out over a spectacular crashing sea.

After breakfast we decided to head over to Avalon and do a little snorkling. We were out about 15 minutes and Laura was done. She had asthma when she was younger and she was experiencing anxiety having her face in the ocean and breathing thru a tube. It just freaked her out, so she paddled back to shore. So, I took a few minutes and paddled around the dock on my way back to shore. I saw a huge starfish and thousands of fish under the dock. We did take some time to walk thru the hotel. It was interesting to find that the inside is nowhere near as nice as outside. I was also surprised that the time share sharks gave up so easily.

After a quick shower we went behind the hotel to Chilli Loco’s for lunch. Jim and Carmita invited us to join them. They were working on having their marriage recognized by the state. When they went to get processed they found out they didn’t have a copy of Carmita’s birth certificate so they had to wait till her sister could send her one from her hometown. I have never met a man with as many stories as Jim Morgan, just fascinating. If you have not eaten at Chilli Loco’s during lunch or breakfast, when Donna and Ziggy are in control, you must. The food there is fantastic. The Belgian waffles are to die for.

With tummies full it’s off to do some shopping. Laura had an extensive list of people back home who she HAD to get gifts for. Jewelry for the girls, blankets for the families watching the girls, coworkers, and her bowling team. Three hours and $300 later I am draggin’ tail back to Elements. This girl can shop, and I have been shlepping this crap all over centro, on foot. I dragged my almost lifeless body up the stairs, dropped off the bags, and changed into beach wear.

It’s off to Sergio’s ‘cause we need to see a sunset. So far we have slept thru every one. We picked out two chairs on the beach facing el sol and ordered up some adult beverages (2 for 1!). God Blessed us with a spectacular sunset. After that we ran home, changed, and headed off to Faynes to try to get dinner before the band started. We’d like to actually talk over dinner. We order the fillet and the T-bone. We both enjoyed our dinner and the little black dog who hangs out at Faynes liked the bone we shared with him. After dinner we wandered around town for about an hour letting our dinner settle ending up at Color de Verano. I had the Tiramisu cake and Laura had the apple pie. Her taster must have been off because she didn’t finish her pie so I had to help her. I feel like such a pig, but it was worth every big fat calorie.

Day 5:

Got up around 9 and started getting around. Decided to head over to Chilli Loco’s for breakfast. It’s close, and it’s good. Laura had pinched a nerve in her back when she was shaving so we were looking for a massuese. Donna at Chilli Loco’s suggested Marcella. She has a blue tent on Playa Norte just north of Jax. After over an hour of massage we came home and ice’d her down. We were in the heat of the day so we took a siesta.

Got up about 6 and we were hungry. You have to realize that this was the day we were going to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We had planned to go someplace romantic like Villa Rolandi and have dinner, walk on the beach, come back to the room and... Well, one pinched nerve blew that grandios plan right out of the water. It was my night to cook so I headed thru the alley to Hidalgo, past Faynes, and left on Matamoros. In the first block of Matamoros, on the left, is Aqui Pizza. I bought a whole hawian special and took it back to the room.

We made short work of our special anniversary dinner and then settled in for some serious book time. It was still around 80 degrees and the breeze blowing in from the balcony was wonderful.

Day 6:

Started the day with breakfast at Elements. The meal was delicious and cheap. Ceasar makes all of his own bread and they have their own homemade preserves. The bannana was muey yummy.

Laura headed off to the beach for annother massage. She was feeling much better but I had prescribed another hour with Marsella and some more margarita’s to make it all more bearable.

I headed off in the opposite direction in search of the optical shop I’d seen the day before. Laura had lost a screw out her perscription sunglasses and I needed to find her a replacement. Ceasar told me right where to look for the optico and I was there in 5 minutes. Ten pesos later Lauras sunglasses where as good as new.

Since I now had an hour to kill I spent the rest of it wandering around centro. I especially liked the fancy jewelry shop. They had the most amazing stuff in there. The fire opals were gorgeous. I hustled back to the beach to pick up mi amiga, and we trotted off down the beach to Sergio’s for lunch. Jorge asked us if we wanted to pay up front or run a tab and try to sneak out like we did the other day. He also started refering to Laura as my little sister. Funny guy. He certainly likes the women.

We wasted the whole day at Sergio’s, not leaving till after sunset. Got some spectacular sunset pictures. We moved to chairs closer to the beach, better for watching the sunset. Jorge told us we almost gave him a heart attack. He thought we left without settling our tab. Someone on the island told me that Sergio doesn’t pay his waiters everything he owes them so they are basically working for their tips. Jorge did pretty well on us while we were there. It upsets me that someone would take advantage of their emplyee’s like that, if it’s true.

Went home for a quick shower and off to dinner. Decided italian sounded as good as anything so we headed over to Hidalgo to Anjelos. We shared a stromboli and a huge tossed salad. I’m glad we had Laura’s map or we wouldn’t have known the food portions were big enough to feed two. Laura’s map definately paid for itself more than once.

With our tummies full we walked down to Matamoros and turned right on Guerrero. In the first block you will find Digi me. It’s a small shop with 4 phones where you can make international calls. The cost to call home was only two and half cents a minute! We called the girls but only the oldest was home. My sweet tooth was ready for something sweet so we walked to Color De Verano for a brownie with ice cream. By 9:30 we were back in bed reading and enjoying the music drifting over from Hidalgo on the warm breeze. We were both asleep within the hour.

Day 7:

Friday, our last full day. Got up about 9 and headed to Chilli Loco’s for more waffles! This time Ziggy suggested I get 3 instead of 2. Well yeah, I didn’t know you could do that. Thanks Ziggy.

I will fondly remember Donna and Ziggy and mornings at Chilli Loco’s. We never did eat dinner there as we usually wanted dinner earlier than they wanted to serve it. But breakfasts and lunches were some of the best on the island. It’s not hard to see why you can usually find Big Jim and Carmita having lunch there almost everyday.

Laura wanted to do some more shopping. We stopped at the bank to cash some travelers checks then off we go. One more wool blanket (for us), a hamock, a bowl, 3 pair of fake Oakley sunglasses and some jewelry for the girls. Then we stopped at the Super Mercado. Since Laura hurt her back she can’t carry any of this booty (of course).

By this time my back aches, I’m thirsty and hot. I’m draggin’ tail up Hidalgo, as we round the corner we see Jim and Carmita at Chilli Loco and they ask if we want to join them. We are still full from breakfast, but it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, so we tell them we’ll be back in 5 minutes. It takes everything I’ve got to haul the bags up to the second floor. I must have had fourty pounds of crap! We sit a while with the Morgans sipping a drink and decide to walk the length of Playa Norte. After stopping in the room for some sunscreen we head off to the Avalon. The beach in this area is nice but not as nice as where we’ve been hanging out this week. A littlle dirty in spots.

When we arrive at Sergio’s we stop for a cold one. We say goodbye to Jorge and he wishes us well. We continue past Jax and down toward the boats where we talk to some of the men cleaning fish on one of the boats. Took some pictures of the pelicans who where eating the parts the men where throwing overboard. One of the fishermen reched down and patted the pelican nearest the boat. “He’s mi amigo” he says “his name is Pedro”. I got a kick out of that. After our short stroll on the beach we
headed back for a short rest and a shower. Laura decided she had not had enough shopping but I couldn’t take any more so she headed off on her own. I would not have felt safe enough to do that when we got to the island but I feel very comfortable here now.

It was dark when Laura returned, so after showing me her treasures, we toddled off in search of dinner. Someone at breakfast had told us about this place across from the Coral Dive shop called La Bohemia. She just raved about how great the food was and how cheap the bill was. She also mentioned how fabulous the coconut shrimp was at La Bohemia. Since coconut shrimp is something I’ve always wanted to try, I thought, perfect.

She did not exagerate. The food was to die for. A large plate full of huge shrimp that tasted amazing, and the rice and steamed potatoes, carrots and onions made it a perfect meal. The dinner was so good I looked over the table card to see what they offered for dessert. I decided on the lime tart. Laura didn’t want anything (of course) but when mine came she had to have a bite. I was lucky to get any more of it after that. I would say that La Bohemia was the best dinner we had on the island. It was also one of the least expensive at $20 for two dinners, one dessert and drinks. I would have paid $40 - 50 for a meal of this quality. The service was a little slow and it would have helped if our spanish was a little better but oh my gosh the food. Must get back to Isla just to eat here again.

We did a slow stroll up Hidalgo back to the room where we began packing for the trip home.

Day 8:

Not much to mention about the trip home. We didn’t want to leave the weather but we missed our girls. We got up early and had breakfast at Elements of the Island. The oatmeal I had had before was what I wanted so we both ordered that. It’s filled with musk mellon, watermellon, shaved apples, raisins, kiwi, almonds and walnuts. I am not a breakfast eater but I’d start getting up more often for a meal like this.

We had hauled our bags downstairs and said our goodbyes to Ceasar and Lisa. Elements of the Island was the perfect spot for our 20th anniversary trip.

Fidel showed up right at 9:00 a.m. , we loaded his bike, and off we went. We hopped on the ferry and headed to Cancun. Best Day was waiting for us at the dock, got us to the airport in good time. It still didn’t make up for how they screwed us when we landed but today they got us to the airport, and to the right line for our return flight. After checking in I sat in one of the little restaurants and had my last cervesa in Mexico. I ordered some guac and chips to go along with it. I figured it cost me at least twice what it would have cost me on the island.

The plane ride was uneventful. We stopped in New Orleans to clear customs and were back in the air in ninety minutes. Landed in Flint and after waiting for half an hour for our bags we stepped out into 26 degrees with a light west wind. We made it home to pick up the girls and headed to Applebees for a dinner, it was 10 p.m. At 11:30 I hit the bed, my bed. I spent the next 30 minutes going over the highlights of the trip in my head. Sergio’s, the beach, the sunsets, the ocean, the food, and all the fabulous people we met. I can’t wait to go again.

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