Trip Report – April 19 – 26, 2008
We stayed at the Avalon Reef club. I put a report on Trip Advisor concerning most everything pertaining to the Avalon. My husband and I were there at this same resort two years ago.
So lucky for us – it is a nonstop USAir flight from Charlotte, N.C. We left on time at 8 AM Eastern time and arrived just after 9:30 Central time. So our flight was about 2 ˝ hours. I believe we were at Terminal 1. It is much nicer than 2 years ago. We breezed through immigration and proceeded to the luggage carousel. There is a restroom beside the luggage area. I noticed the bright sunlight coming in from the luggage conveyer door. I got my shades ready. This was my first little peek of the outside. Oh, now I am so excited! We pass a Duty Free store on our way to Customs. We stop for a very brief minute to check prices. Around the corner is the line to try my luck with the red light-green light. Yep, we got the green light! Then we try to walk through the gauntlet of men in short sleeve blue cotton shirts. These guys are here to set you up with tours and transportation. If you are set, just politely refuse.
We go outside. On the sidewalk are all the transportation companies and taxi drivers.
We find Best Day. They send us to the end of a sidewalk (it looks sort of like a drive-in restaurant). The Best Day worker tried to verify my departure flight and time. I told him that my computer was down at home and I was not sure. He was gone for a while and then came back with my information. He told me when I needed to be at the Ferry to be picked up by Best Day. We waited about 20 minutes – it was hot. Our driver came and we picked another couple up at another terminal. Then we dropped them off. It took 30 minutes to get to Grand Puerto. It was 11:10. My husband just cannot wait to eat – he is wilting away. He got a Big Mac and I helped with the fries. We’re on the ferry at 11:30.
After 20 minutes of reveling in the magical colors of the water, we are on Isla.
We side track the rest of the crowd and cut straight to the street. We were gouged by a taxi driver last time and did not want a taxi. We went to get a golf cart. We have rented from Gomar’s before and they are right at the ferry. When we approached, Gomar’s was busy. I let a hustler pull me away from Gomar’s. We tried to ask him his rates and where his business was. He kept putting us off. We passed the bank – and I had wanted to stop there first. Finally after about 3 blocks, we get to his rental. It was the same price as Gomar’s. We have done all this ridiculous walking in the heat with our luggage. I blow him off and we keep walking. We get to another Rental. It was $10 less but they had no carts. We keep walking. We get to Ciero’s. The price was $10 less also.
Finally!! OOOPS. My husband almost has a breakdown. He cannot find his license. He had given it to a USAir credit card promotion representative back in Charlotte. I told him we would use my license but then he found it. The poor guy at the counter was pretty intimidated by my husband’s conduct! I guess I would have been freaked out too!!
Okay, off to the Avalon. Wow, after we got on the cart and started moving it was much nicer. The breezes and beauty of the beaches on the North end dissolve all our worries.
We park our cart at the loading area of the Avalon. That freaks them out. We have to move it immediately. So, I go in with the luggage. It is 12:30 now and they let us check in!! Yes, we go out the back of the tower and roll our luggage on this rickety looking stairway to our villa. We are so happy we are on the east side. The first thing I do is draw back the curtains and open the sliding glass doors. Ahhh!! We’re here for a week!!
The water is crashing just feet from the balcony. It is a beautiful day. We have left all the clouds back in Cancun. My backache is mysteriously gone!! I didn’t want to take time to unpack – but we did. Then we were off to town to exchange money. My husband had left his hat on the counter at home and we would need to go shopping.
I grabbed a plate of guac and chips off the buffet and two drinks and jumped on the golf cart. I brought Styrofoam Chic-fil-a cups from home for our drinks.
My husband and I work as a team. He drops me off at the bank and then picks me up. There is a lot more street traffic than 2 years ago. However, it is always busy on the street where the bank and ferry are located. The bank is slow. I trade out $200. I watch the money counter machine and the teller gives me a receipt. Back outside, I easily find my husband.
Next order of business – find Captain Tony. I knock on the door. After I walk away, he comes out. I am so happy to see him. We never got to go on his tour to Isla Contoy before. We kept showing up at his house and he never had enough people to go. I was so disappointed. This time, we are going to try to get on the tour early in the week so we don’t miss out. So we tell him we are coming tomorrow!! (Dumb me – I have a golf cart for 24 hours and am not thinking straight.)
We drive over to the shopping area around Hildago. One store just suddenly becomes our favorite. I bought a sarong. The attendant showed me a lot of ways to wear it. She was so nice. I just wish I could remember half of what she showed me. My husband got a nice hat. I bought a cute Island dress.
After that, it was like we were “marked”. Everybody wanted to sell us something. Of course it is slow this time of day for them. I found SOME of the vendors annoying. If I just wanted to know the price, they would tell me. And then they would not leave me alone. They would keep lowering the price or trying to sell me several for some price.
I didn’t even want the stuff. And after the aggressive sells tactic – I started hating the stuff. The whole thing made me feel bad. Please don’t misunderstand – not everybody acted like this.
We went back to the Avalon for more drinks and to change into our suits. We left our cart there and walked over to North Beach. Zahila is the property we walked through to get there. We got in the water and it feels cool at first. After just a short bit, it feels great.
We sit on the white sand ocean floor and bobble up and down with the gentle waves all the while juggling our drinks. We talk about the crazy call button on the airplane. My husband’s leg kept hitting it and the stewards kept coming to see if we are okay. They really think something is wrong when they see me crying. I am crying while watching the movie: P.S. I Love You! We cannot believe we are here!! It was so easy. But leaving our house at 5:30 made us tired.
Back at the Avalon, we catch the sunset. It’s a nice one. Unfortunately, we know our camera doesn’t ever capture the spectacle. I was so hungry; I don’t remember what I gobbled down off the buffet. I had to call it an early day!!
We slept with the balcony door open even though it felt humid. We got up to enjoy the sunrise. The Avalon’s balcony chairs are too low – I had to sit on the ledge. Anyway, this was one of those picture book sunrises! After a good breakfast, we got to Captain Tony’s. It was little after 8:30. I apologized and asked could we go tomorrow. He said yes and felt certain we would have enough people. Yes!!
So we have a golf cart until about 12:15. We go for an island tour. Apparently, my husband and I are not on the same page. He thinks he is a NASCAR driver. I am wanting to sight see and check out some other options of places to stay. This is totally annoying to both of us, him flying by everything and me making him back up or turn around. I am thinking next time that I will get my own Moped. (Now don’t give the drill about Moped accidents – I ride a Harley) The only thing with the Moped is you have to wear a helmet – which means I would have to buy a hat. A hat would make me feel like it was more hygienic.
Our first stop was Media Luna. I stopped here three times. It was never convenient for them to show me a room. The manager acted standoffish. I really wanted to see it but after these encounters, I just don’t think so. We drove down the east side. We stopped at Casa Flamboyan home rental. I saw someone through the window at table. When the lady came to the door, I told her who we were and asked did she like it here. “Well, I love it here, I am the owner!” We were so lucky to catch her at home. She gave us a great tour of her home. It is so beautiful. It looks very upscale and nicely decorated. There are two separate rentals upstairs. The downstairs is available when the owners are not in town.
We kept going along the strip. We quickly – oh did I say QUICKLY – reached the end of the island (remember Speedy Gonzales?) I think we stopped for pictures once.
We paid the entrance fee. The sculptures were of little interest to me but I did want to walk along the cliffs. We took the path to the right and walked down towards Garrafon.
The water is so unbelievable!! I walked up into the cave type formations. At the top were two chairs. It made a nice lookout. It is a little tricky even though it is a short climb to the top.
I looked up at the cliff and saw something pink moving. It was the mouths of two Iguanas having a brawl. About that time, one was knocked off the cliff. Kaplat! It hit the sidewalk. The cliff was 12-15 feet high. Then its head kept bobbing up and down with its mouth agape. The king of the hill was gloating above. This wasn’t enough for the king! He came down and they became engaged in another round of who could get his mouth around the head of the other. I zeroed in with my camera. I distracted one of them and he paid for it. The king skittered back up that cliff pronto. We came to a sign that said only guests of Garrafon could continue.
We retraced our steps and went to Cliff of the Dawn-the very easternmost point in Mexico. We got a picture of the ruin there and I walked some more paths around the sea. It was gorgeous. Back at the sculptures, a family was taking pictures. We offered to take theirs and they took ours.
We went back to the room and readied ourselves for the beach. I dropped husband off at the entrance to North Beach and went to return the golf cart. He rented a mattress and 2 pillows for $10. After lunch, we thought we’d try out our new snorkel equipment. Mine came from Wal-Mart and his from Ski and Sea. (Wal-Mart did not have his size) I had made covers for the head strap so as not to tear at our hair. My husband has very long hair. Well, the sets worked great. Around the rocks to the east of the Avalon bridge, we saw a lot of nice fish.
We had a good dinner and again went to bed early.
Isla Contoy day!! We hurried and walked to Captain Tony’s. We are the first there. I am thinking – Uh-o – we are not going to get to go. Just a few minutes pass and our fellow adventures arrive!! We try to introduce ourselves to everyone but suddenly there are so many and then its time to get snorkel equipment if you needed it. Then it was time to walk to the boat. The adventures we met were all so nice. We had the best people. Captain Tony had to take 2 boats for all of us. I think we had 13 on ours and there were around 7 on the other. Two ladies were here by themselves – and one of them didn’t snorkel because she didn’t swim.
Oh, being in that boat right next to the magical blues of the water was amazing. We could reach out and touch the warm water as we traveled across the sea. Oh it was such a great feeling. I loved looking at the people on the other side of the boat in front of me. Just looking at them with that blue water as a backdrop was like an eye drug. I cannot get enough of those blues! We stop out over a reef. I can still see land in the distance and this comforts me. I thought I would be way out to sea.
We jump off the side of the boat. My head didn’t go under so I will still need to get it wet. The orange life jacket is tied around my middle to enable me to snorkel better. Captain Tony gives some instructions on how we drift or something. I don’t know why but I really didn’t know how it was going to work. My husband was holding my hand and a lot of times he would pull me right into someone else’s flippers. I just held out my arm to block them.
Okay, the snorkeling was incredible. The place we went today was very shallow and the fish were right near you. The water was pretty calm. Great big purple fans waved in the current. I guess it is called Stag horn coral that grew right up to the surface of the water. I was careful to dodge it. Of course there were all kinds of fish. Some of us saw a turtle.
The only thing that wasn’t good was that this snorkel trip was over before I knew it.
It was time to get back on the boat. I was the 1st to get out of the water and I was jealous that the others were still in the water. (Oh – it was probably because Speedy Gonzales was dragging me through the water!)
We arrived at Isla Contoy. Captain Tony stopped the boat for a photo op. We drifted along the shore and saw the birds. We then came around to a beach cove with a dock.
We were told it would be a little over an hour before lunch and we could snorkel or take a hike of the island. We snorkeled. There was a lot of sea grass. I tried to go to the other side of the dock but when we swam over there, it was marked off by buoys. We went out toward the rock formations sticking out of the water. We saw a big orange sea cushion and lots of fish. On the other side there is some fire coral that will burn your skin. We never came close to that area.
Then it was time to eat. My husband went in before me. A great big manta ray came and brushed by him. The manta ray liked my husband so much that I think it was a female!! Another boat tour was sharing our shelter. Their captain would splash the water and call “Poncho!” he would kiss the manta and also hand feed it.
I got cold after getting out of the water. It was because of the wet tee shirt. I took it off and was fine. My shoulders were burned yesterday. So I was trying to take care of myself – just a day late!
Everyone enjoyed the lunch: Fish and rice and chips and guacamole. It was delicious.
Captain Tony has a great personality and everybody loves him. He is a charmer!
We are so lucky to have had this experience!
After lunch, we walked up to the look out tower. There was a heavenly breeze up there.
It was so hot if you got into an area with no breeze. The view was nice but the breeze was phenomenal. We walked out to a bluff and to be honest – Isla Mujeres has more picturesque bluffs. However, the pristine beauty here on Contoy is a rare find.
I looked at a few displays in the museum. Once I saw that seahorses could be found, I was all ready to snorkel again. I was so excited; I didn’t even bother with the flippers. I was looking for sea horses!! Well, I would love to say that I saw one – but there is always next time! My husband would like to do this trip again too!
The ride back seemed longer. It was a little bumpy: which did not bother me until later. (Sore rear end). If you have back trouble – it is best to sit in the back of the boat. Speaking of the back of the boat, some of the men just couldn’t resist standing beside the Captain! You could tell, they were having a ball. Later in the week, we recommended this trip to another lady traveling by herself. She said in town, no one would direct her to Captain Tony but tried to sell other tours to her. We explained how to find Captain Tony.
She finally got to go and she loved it too.
We did attend the Caribbean theme party at our hotel. But it was early to bed again. This had been a full day!
Today would be Tuesday. Okay, I am too tired to get up early for sunrise. We go to North Beach again today. It is really hot today. We get an umbrella for an extra $5. There is no breeze. We watch the “hippies” come out of tent around 11:00. How could they be in those tents in the heat? Some of them go to the water and spit their toothpaste. They get out the bongo drums. They are in their own world. It is hot. We go in for lunch. Half way over the bridge, I notice that the breeze feels great. I tell the husband, he can stay at North Beach if he wants, I staying over here where the breeze is. He agrees with me. I go back and collect our belongings. We do not return to North Beach for the rest of the week.
At lunch, we meet up with one of our fellow adventures from yesterday. I start talking about Pomegranate Margaritas. And she says the board says to go to Miguel’s. She has to return her golf cart. So we both go with her and find Miguel’s. It was funny in town. Because it was sort of like a grapevine the way the shop owners communicated. A tour operator thought we were the 3 Americans who were looking for him. He sent the word down the street. Finally, someone told us we were needed. We thought maybe something was left on the golf cart we just returned. We kept retracing our steps and the shop keepers kept pointing us further back. Well, it was kind of funny because my husband had seen the 3 he was looking for!
We found Miguel. He was great. The PM were wonderful as was the guacamole.
My husband tried a Sol – his first- and he really liked it. Miguel has a great personality
And we wanted to come back that night. We didn’t make it and we also didn’t make our dinner reservations. Things happen. We snorkeled in King’s Pool. The guy from Utah had brought fish food! We went back to our hotel and closed their bar down. The couple from Utah were lots of fun too.
Alright my stomach kept me up a lot. The fruit juice drinks are going to have to cease. I switch over to milk based drinks. It is now Wednesday. Gee, where has all our time gone already? It’s just not fair how fast time goes by on vacation.
Okay, I don’t like to lie on the beach after eating a big breakfast. I walk into town and drop off the laundry. I get on the internet while waiting. I have a really hard time finding the shop where I saw the placemats. Note to self: when leaving a shop you think you’ll return to later, turn around and study the outside location. I dreamed of them the night before. I took that as a sign that I had to buy them. I also cannot find Miguel’s. I guess it was divine intervention!!
By the time I got back, my husband had been on the fast track again!! Speedy Gonzales had met everyone on the beach at the Avalon. He made all these friends and found out all this neat stuff about them. By now I was starting to feel like an intruder! Great! I do all the work and he gets rewarded by lying around talking! I meet some of them. After lunch, we snorkel again. We make our reservation tonight and find everything delightful.
Thursday, Ikes – why can’t we win the lottery and stay longer? Ok, we do the beach thing all day and snorkel in the afternoon. Husband saw a manta ray and he pointed out this creature walking across the ocean floor. It looked as if it had wings.
There was a Mexican fiesta tonight. We enjoyed cutting up and the food was probably the best buffet of the week.
Friday. We go ahead a pack up our things. We get a golf cart. Drop off our laundry. Tour the island again with Speedy. I’ve given up by this time – I am eying the moped. His patience is all gone with me wanting to stop and see or do anything. I don’t say anything. His excuse is that he would have to lock it up. Well, we did go shelling. There were lots of nice coral and a few shells and some sea glass. The most amazing thing I found was a shoe. It was a perfect shoe- made entirely of duct tape. If I can figure how to post the picture, you won’t believe it.
My friend said – oh you didn’t put it on – But I did. I figured it had been there a while and it was the same as walking after someone – well let’s don’t analyze this too much!
Ok, we do go to Miguel’s. I get the Mojitos!! Wonderful. Miguel is a great host. He immediately turned the fan on my husband. I shopped across the street. I did not buy anything, but they had some nice things in there. We pick up the laundry and head back to the hotel.
We go snorkeling and see a skate. We meet a couple who just arrived. We wind up assisting them after they had way toooo much to drink. Along with a crew of workers and another couple we’d met there, we get them to their rooms. We get ready for dinner with the couple from Utah at the Avalon’s Mi Casa Su Casa restaurant. Those Mojitos have taken a toll on me; I have to go to bed early.
Saturday, we eat breakfast. Whoopee – we get to go home today. (Sic) Already, I start thinking of all our obligations. Funny, I have not thought of any of these things all week.
Good grief, why didn’t I just get the 1st flight out and get this over with.
We check out and they cut off my wrist band. Ouch, they have cut the umbilical cord.
I drop husband and luggage off at the ferry and then return the cart. When I return, Speedy informs me that he has already purchased the ferry tickets. Well. Guess what? He didn’t need to because I had the round trip ones already.
We go ahead and leave an hour early. On the ferry, these two musicians start singing all this cheerful stuff. Okay, I’m ok. Then they start singing La Bamba. Ok, now I am not ok. Their singing was bad. I felt bad and now I am feeling worse. Ok. Then I get real sad. I can always return – but next time I won’t be the same person. I will be different. I have changed a lot since the last trip 2 years ago. Change makes me sad. I want things to stay and it’s just not possible. So I get in a mood. I try to get into the blues of the water. Nope, nothings going to help. I just have to buck it up.
We are an hour early waiting for our ride on the streets of Mexico. There is only one bench and it is barely in the shade. Thankfully, it’s empty. We sit and watch: the VW that is broken down with the guy working diligently to fix it, (he does finally get it going) and the delivery of the parking lot beams was pretty impressive. A lady came by and was so happy to talk to us. She took both our faces in her hands before she left us. She was a sweetheart. I decide to run into MacDonald’s. It took forever. Our ride was waiting when I returned.
The airport was crowded as usual. I jump at the chance to be bumped. We no longer have to stand in the queue. We will be delayed just 2 hours. What a deal. Now I feel better – We already have the tickets to come back. Yes, I feel much better. After enjoying a meal at Bubba Gumps, we embark.
Back at the Charlotte airport, I am still feeling it. I tell the worker at the beginning of the line to immigration. “HOLA!” She says to me, ”You’re back now and it’s HI Y’all!”
I complain to her, “Gosh, couldn’t you just let me pretend a little Longer??”
Well, its time to stop pretending and time to plan another trip to paradise!!