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The Jones Gang, (aka Hogfamily), Isla Adventures: The Final Episode.
The Jones Gang, (aka Hogfamily), Isla Adventures ĺ08: The Final Episode.
Thank you all for the kind words and encouragement to continue with the Jones Gang Isla Adventures.
One of our favorite TV shows is Survivorman. Itĺs on the Discovery Channel. Les Stroud is placed in various locations throughout the world for one week with a minimum of equipment and no food. He is alone and films the ordeal. It is very entertaining and educational.
Our boys are always playing Survivorman. One night last winter they wanted to spend the night in our back yard with only their winter clothes, no sleeping bags or blankets, and build a shelter to sleep in. Dadĺs rules were only no fire, I didnĺt think the neighbors would appreciate a fire in our back yard, and when they got cold they had to come in, oh yea, no sharp objects, (they ARE boys). Oh, and the temperature was about 25 degrees F below zero.
They built an impressive shelter and crawled in for the night. Bless their hearts they lasted a little over an hour. When they came in they were so cold that could barely talk.
Later that winter they talked Mom and Dad into playing Survivorman with them by spending the night in a tent in the back yard of our cabin. No heat in the tent. It was not too cold about minus 10 degrees F. We slept fairly well until about 6:00am. The oldest boy had to go to the bathroom. He wanted to go to the bathroom in the cabin. I said that Survivorman would at least use the outhouse, so he did. When he came back he was really cold. Of course having to use the bathroom is contagious. So being the good father that I am I volunteered to go into the cabin and stoke the woodstove and call everyone in when the cabin was warm so they could all use the warm bathroom.
While on Isla it did not take our boys long to figure out that playing Survivorman in the tropics would be more comfortable than in Alaska.
Not quite the same as a boat trip to Contoy with Capt. Tony.
When we went to Contoy our boys really thought that Contoy Island would be the perfect place to be Survivorman. For some reason that started the theme song from Gilliganĺs Island playing in my head.
When we were planning our Isla vacation Michelle and I had considered taking our boys to Dolphin Discovery to swim with the dolphins. We kind of gave up on it as itĺs quite expensive as Michelle and I would have to go with them because they are too young to go alone. One adult is required for each child.
During our last week on Isla I discovered that we had not spent as much money as we had budgeted for so we asked our boys what they would like to do for our ôlast big adventureö. They said go to Contoy with Capt. Tony again or swim with the dolphins. They decided on the dolphins.
So on our last full day on Isla we went to Dolphin Discovery.
On another Isla forum that we had been reading while planning our trip to Isla there was a lot of negative postings about the Swim with Dolphin places so I had mixed emotions about it. We decided to give it a try and make up our own minds.
I donĺt know how the other places are but we were impressed with the one on Isla. I asked the trainers and staff a lot of questions about the operation of the park and care of the animals. It is obvious that the staff really enjoys working there and is proud of the way that the wildlife is taken care of. Several of the dolphins had been rescued from bad conditions. Some may have been purchased from ôbrokersö. There will always be brokers; at least the purchased dolphins are better off here then somewhere else. One of the dolphins that we swam with has been there 16 years and we also swam with her one year old ôsonö. The dolphins live a lot longer and are safer there than in the wild. There may be a ôdark sideö to the park, we didnĺt see it.
A big positive for us was that the experience has caused our boys to have a great respect and appreciation for dolphins. The only exposure they have had to dolphins was watching the old Flipper movie.
Having talked to others that have swum with dolphins in other places the one on Isla is smaller and more ôintimateö. We never felt rushed to cram in more groups and the groups were small.
We bought the DVDs of our swims. They were expensive but well worth it, we have watched them a lot.
Iĺm not sure if its ok,(copyrights), to show screen shots, (you should see how long it took me to figure out how to do that), but Iĺm doing it as an educational experience. (We wonĺt tell if you donĺt). Sorry about the quality.
There is a lot of other stuff to do at the park. There are playgrounds for the kids, nice swimming pools, restaurant, and other activities
One more thing, we had a BLAST, it was FUN!
Next is our last night out and our trip back home. Sorry about the strange sounds that you might be hearing thatĺs just me sobbing and whining as I type the last of this.
Juan at Angeloĺs.
Mario, he is standing behind Joseph and the painting, painted this for us. What you canĺt see is that he painted our four boys playing soccer on the beach in the painting. Mario painted the murals at Marinoĺs and several murals at other businesses on Isla.
Mario also painted murals on the palms of our boyĺs hands.
Senoras Nelda and Tere, two of the most wonderful staff at Plaza Almendros. The staff made us feel like family not just guests. Our boys had several stuffed animals that they brought and some they bought from one of the street vendors. Every day when we returned to our impeccably cleaned rooms the stuffed animals were arranged different ways on the beds. We always looked forward to seeing what the animals were going to be doing the next day.
All the staff was extremely patient with us and taught us a lot of Spanish.
We also met a lot of wonderful people from all over Mexico, the USA, and the world that were staying at Plaza Almendros.
Eberhard the owner of Cool, an almost daily stop for the Jones Gang. Rosemarie, his girlfriend, is a sweetheart. How convenient that Cool is next door to Plaza Almendros.
The day before we were to leave one of the guys with the tricycles that got our luggage to the hotel from the ferry dock when we arrived on Isla a month ago showed up at our room and wanted to know what time our ferry left the next day and if we would need two carts for our stuff. We told him the time and that we would need two carts.
The next day they were there on time loaded our stuff up and said that they would be waiting at the ferry when we got there.
Leaving on the ferry.
At Puerto Juarez AGI Tours was waiting. The driver helped the bellman load our baggage and we were on our way to the airport. At the airport a bellman took our bags to the Alaska Airlines check-in.
At the Alaska Airlines check-in when the gentleman that was checking in passengers at the first class desk saw us he insisted that we check in through his station as he did not have a line. The regular line was long. Five of our six bags were overweight. He would put them on the scale and take them back off before the total weight would register and would say, ôForty-nine poundsö.
When we were at the gate getting ready for boarding the same gentleman showed up. Before they called for the first class passengers to board he had the gate agent board those with children first as he was motioning us to the gate.
Our flight left Cancun at 5:30pm. Our boys did great on the flight to Los Angles thanks to Digeplayers and my smart wife once again packing snacks for us.
In Los Angles we had a very short time to get our baggage, go through immigrations and customs, recheck our bags, and make it to our next flight. When we went through immigrations the officer became a little suspicious because our boys were a lot darker and their hair was a lot lighter than in their passport photos. He asked me why we colored their hair and put make up on their faces, he was not joking. It took some explaining to convince him that we did not alter their looks. I told him that it was winter in Alaska when the passport photos were taken and that we just spent a month in Mexico in the sun and on the beach. He seemed a little skeptical but let us through.
I was convinced that we were going to miss our flight. Michelle said no way and lead us through the airport, a mom on a mission. We made it to the gate just after the flight was closed but as several people were late they let us board. Our boys fell asleep a short way out of LA.
We had a six hour lay over in Seattle. I was sure we would have cranky kids, (and parents), while waiting. We found our departure gate and it was mostly empty. I went to get some water for everyone. When I got back with the water this is what I found.
We woke them up, fed them a snack, and boarded the airplane for the flight to Anchorage. Once again thanks to Michelleĺs packing and Digeplayers the rest of the trip was a breeze.
The Jones Gang did their part in boosting the Isla Mujeres economy. This is a sampling of some of the souvenirs that the Hogfamily brought home from Isla. We even brought home the kitchen sink, well the bathroom sink.
We would like to thank all of you that have read or trip reports, made comments, and encouraged me to continue. The postings in Isla Stories, the Q & A Board, and Chatter Board were extremely helpful while we were researching for our trip to Isla.
I know that I speak for my family when I say that our trip to Isla has changed our lives. Every day since we have been back every one of our boys has said that they miss Isla, our new friends there, and hope that we return soon. Michelle and I agree. The local people of Isla treated us more like family than tourist. The people that we met from Mexico, the USA, and around the world were the frosting on an already sweet cake.
If any of you come to visit Alaska make sure you contact the Hogfamily!
Stay tuned there will be a sequel to The Jones Gang (aka Hogfamily) Isla Adventuresůů..
Until then this isůů
THE END !
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