Trip Report – March 15-22, 2007 – Second Annual Islaholics St. Patty's Week
Link to photos:
Thursday March 15 – Rise and shine (NOT!) at 3:30 a.m. We boarded Simba with our vet the day before, due to his diabetes still not being under control. Pet sitter's in place to check in on the others, twice a day for the week. Kisses and hugs to our furry babies and we're off to New Haven, a 20 minute drive, to catch our flight to Philly. Roy spent the night to make sure he didn't oversleep and miss the flight. Got to the airport about 45 minutes before boarding for our 5:30 am flight, which was smooth and without a hitch. Checked in and boarded in Philly and took off promptly at 7:30. Flight was a little ahead of schedule, movie was the James Bond re-make of Casino Royale – good flick! We were in row 11, so it was easy-on, easy off. Landed in Cancun at 10:30, flew through immigration and waited, waited and WAITED for our luggage, which was the LAST off the plane!! ARRRGGGHHH!! Green light and outside to the warm Cancun morning air. Our Best Day rep met us with the sign with our name on it and I explained that we needed to go the the Cerveza wagon to meet up with PH Terry and Marlys, who were sharing the ride with us.
After chatting on the internet for about 3 years and exchanging our photo sites, they're easy to spot, and it's so nice to finally meet!! We get our van and off we go to the ferry, stopping briefly for a six-pack for the ride. We crack open our beers and toast to our friends and a week of fun.
We missed the 11:00 ferry, but that's ok, we passed the time talking and snapping photos. Funny how internet friendships blossom to where you feel like you're old friends once you finally meet up! Terry filled us in about the health problems with his mom and dad back at home, and I pray everthing remains calm for him this week so that he can enjoy a much needed vacation. Marlys is already missing that little cutie Trevor – how we worry about our furry little ones! We quickly lined up for the ferry and noticed something new – a line for locals and a line for tourists; the locals boarded first. The ferry ride over started out sunny, but we hit one cloud that briefly showered us a bit, but no big deal... I stuffed my camera under my shirt and by the time we were in photo shooting range of Isla, the shower passed. I was amazed and saddened by the progress of the new construction on the south end. How it's changing the first view of Isla. I won't EVEN go in to how the Ixchel condos have spoiled the view of Playa Norte. Not much we can do about it, though. The navy base progress since November is incredible, and although it is huge, somehow it seems ok – maybe because we were already used to seeing the old structure.
After disembarking, Terry invites us to join them at Picus for lunch, but we need to get down to Jim's to unload, change and head back up to the beach, so we promise to catch up with them later. We grabbed a cab and stopped at the beer distributor on the way; Inge was there with her friend John, who was visiting her from Colorado. We exchanged hugs and she tells us that she'll be stopping at Jim's for a visit a little later.
Jim and Carmita were waiting for us – it was so good to see them and to be back “home”!! I handed over the “loot” that I muled down for Jim and got a laugh out of him with my delivery speech. We unloaded our bags, changed into our swimsuits and visited on the terrace a while; Jim presented Carmita with the beautiful new wedding ring that I delivered, and Carmita placed a new wedding band on Jim's finger – sealed with a kiss!! Inge and John arrived and we visited a bit and then headed out to meet our friends at Sergio's.
We stopped at Miguel's first before hitting the beach; hugs and kisses to Gabriel and Miguel. I told Miguel to be prepared for a big crowd on Saturday night and he tells me that everyone's been telling him about it!! The power of the internet!! I gave Miguel some pictures that I had printed out from our November visit and also from St. Patty's last year. He really got a kick out of them. We tell him we'll see him later and first cervezas in hand, we headed for the beach.
Terry & Marlys were already there, we went over to say hello to Marianne in NYC and Wendy, got welcome hugs from Ziggy & Sergio. Soon enough Jorge & Dianne, Larry & Beth, Clayt & Deb, Roy, Dinghy Dan & Ginny and Garry from Manitoba arrived. We all toasted to old friends and new; took a walk down Playa Norte to see how much the beach changed since November. Sad to say, it looks worse. I snapped some pics, saw Angelica and Maria and gave Angelica a bunch of photos of her and the kids taken from previous trips. She was so happy with them, and Maria was just squealing with delight looking at her own likeness and some silly pics of her brother, Jacob.
The time just flew by and we enjoyed our first sunset with our friends. We decided on dinner at Miguel's – it was going to be an early night, as we were exhausted!! Roy joined us – he ordered mixed ceviche, I had the pork tacos and Tim the beef tacos. We were so famished that I didn't even take a pic of the food!! In exchange for sharing the ceviche, I shared my tacos with Roy. Everything hit the spot for sure!! Doug and Eileen were just finishing their dinner when we arrived, we exchanged hugs and hellos and discussed our plans for our catamaran cruise for Sunday. After a few cervezas and singing Metallica's “Nothing Else Matters” (our wedding dance) with the band, we called it a night – it was a long day and we needed to get some sleep. We walked back down Hidalgo to our cart, stopping along the way to say hello to Fredy and give him a hug.
Put-putted our way back down to Casa de Morgan, spent some time on the terrace with Jim & Carmita then retreated to “our” terrace room, a couple of beers and star-gazing on our terrace and lights out!! G'night honey!!
Friday, March 16 – New addiction – TORTAS!!!
I was up with the sunrise and it was another perfectly sunny day. Nice and cool, beautiful breeze blowing, I grabbed my camera and decided to do the cliff path walk from Jim's down to Punta Sur. What a glorious walk as the day comes to life!! Got some great shots of the Mayan busts at Punta Sur with the early light shadowing them... continued on around; the workers were already busy working on the condos at the end of Punta Sur's driveway. I circled around past Garrafon and stopped by La Joya to see if Eileen wanted to join me on my walk (she told me the night before that she was an early riser too and to stop by). Their breakfast dishes were out on their terrace, so I called out to them – Doug mumbled that he was still “kind of sleeping” and I didn't hear anything from Eileen, so I went on my way. Found out later that Eileen was down on the beach looking for shells!!
I continued on and couldn't get over the mammoth size of Unik Resort, which is all you see looking left from the entrance to La Joya. Bummer!! I took the dirt road alongside and then behind Villas Punta Sur, snapped some photos of the construction going on there since November, ending up back at Jim's.
Hungry and needing my fresh juice fix, I stopped back in our room to let Tim know I was taking a ride into LaGloria in search of breakfast. He mumbled a “be careful” and I was on my way.
Thanks to Zina's help of a guided tour back in November, I easily found my way to the juice and fresh fruit place; got 2 big bottles of OJ and grapefruit juice and 2 large containers of assorted cut up fruit for $8. I'm happy!! I looped back around near Salina Grande and stopped at the torta place I passed on my way to the juice store to get a chicken torta to share with Tim for breakfast. Snapped some pics of an egret in the Salina catching his own breakfast and my torta was ready. $1.50 and I'm good to go!! Did a little more exploring, found the rib place Zina's been talking about and the bakery. Gotta get back here!!
Tim was finally up when I returned and I enjoyed some fruit and juice and we shared the torta. OH MY GOD was it good!! I need to get more of these this visit!! Jim and Carmita were up – Jim was working on making frames for the art prints I muled down; we visited a bit and planned to meet at SanCocho's for lunch later. Freshly showered and dressed for the beach, we head out for day #2 of what would pretty much be our routine for the week.
The ride down to the beach was actually goose-bumply cool with the breeze that blew pretty much all week, but it was another spectacular beach day. We passed Donna on the way into town and stopped to chat a bit, then a bit further down, we passed Zina and stopped to chat. Finally got to Sergio's - It was sunny and warm, but that breeze kept us very comfortable. Clayt, Deb and Morgan (Rockadoodle, Dragon & daughter) joined us on the beach as did Larry and Beth – we camped out with Marianne and enjoyed the sun till it was time to head out for lunch.
We got to Sancochos and it started to cloud over and soon after Jim & Carmita arrived, the sky opened up for about 20 minutes. Marianne and Ponytail Jim showed up, as did Clayt, Deb and Morgan, and then Maggie from LaGloria English School. We all enjoyed a wonderful lunch. I was in the mood for Chiles Rellenos and Carmita clued me in that the two that you get is way too much, so I ordered just one beef & cheese – DEEEELICIOUS!! Tim ordered a breaded chicken sandwich but got a grilled chicken sandwich – a little disappointing but still tasty. Clayt & Morgan share an ENORMOUS “mixed beef platter” that looked devine; Deb ordered the two chiles rellenos; Jim and Carmita both had the beef special of the day which also looked good. Everyone's meal was well received, good reports on all.
Back to the beach! I walked all the way down to the end of Playa Norte to snap some pics, the further I went, the sadder it got. I took the photos from the edge of the water so that a true perspective of just how much beach is there could be had. The most beach is sadly in front of Ixchel Condos. I sure hope that the beach returns eventually!
It looked like the sunset was going to be pretty unimpressive, so we headed back to our room to shower and change for dinner. We cabbed it back to town and again chose Miguel's for dinner. Inge and John, Clayt & Deb and Doug and Eileen were there; we enjoyed our dinners of the Moonlight Special, shrimp tacos, bacon cheeseburger and a special spicy squid dish that Miguel had prepared for me on request. Delicious!!
Brisa showed up and we chatted a bit, and we met a few more folks that either lurk or post on the message boards... Garry in Manitoba posed for a pic grabbing the butts of two bikini clad girls in a poster on the wall at Miguels LOL!! We fed the kitties and were serenaded by a group of very talented percussionists that were making their way down Hidalgo... dropped some pesos in their hat and took some photos and video.
Roy stopped by to let us know he was going to Playa del Carmen for a couple of days with friends he made at the hostel; Gabriel delivered the sad news that this was his last night at Miguel's... he was leaving the island for a while, something to do with girlfriend problems. How sad.... we hugged him and wished him well. I was worried that Miguel might be overwhelmed with our crowd Saturday night, but he told me not to worry, he'd find help. After a few cervezas and pomegranate tequila shots, we said our good nights, hailed a cab and headed home. Another beautiful end to another beautiful day.... under the stars, on our terrace. Ni Nite!!
Saturday March 17 – St. Patty's Day!! Erin go Braless!!
I had the alarm set for 8 to go into town and meet Linda in Frickin Freezin MI at the 9:00 ferry, along with Clayt and Deb. I was going to drive the cart down, but decided to cab it instead. I got to the ferry stand and Clayt and Deb were already there. The torta lady was busy grilling and it smelled soooooo good. We all agreed to breakfast on tortas – I ran over to change some traveler's checks and I ordered a chicken torta when I got back – Clayt and Deb had already wolfed theirs down... oh my God, these things are so good, I can't get enough of them!! I added some of the hot sauce to mine and the torta lady said I was loco!! Man, did that hit the spot!
We waited till 10:30 and still no Linda. What's up with that??? We decided to go over to Bucanero's to see if Brisa was there, as her husband was due in on the same flight as Linda's. Fortunately she had just gotten back to her room and she informed us that the northeast had gotten hit by quite the snow storm the last 24 hours and their flight was delayed. Oh well, Linda will find us at the beach later.... stopped at Adrian's to check e-mail; got the cutest email from the pet sitter, worded from the cats. We did indeed get hit with a whopping nor'easter.... lots of snow and then ice on top!!
That finished, we exit Adrian's to see the cutest little dachsund dressed in a pink t-shirt and baseball cap!! Just HAD to get a pic of that!! We started to head back to the ferry and Deb and I did some shopping on the way – bought a few dresses and a bottle of Almond Tequila which, although I bargained the guy down for, still overpayed by way too much – Clayt and Deb found it in Viva Mexico for ¼ of what I paid for it!! Oh well!!
We planned on meeting up at the beach later, I grabbed a cab back down to get Tim. Dressed, visited with Jim and Carm a bit and then off to the beach!! I dropped off the St. Patty's decorations at Miguel's and then at the beach, we hung out with the usual suspects, I enjoyed a shrimp cocktail for lunch, and Linda, Ali and Bunny found us. I headed out mid day to get some money, do some shopping and visited with Rogelio at the Posada beach for a while... got some good video of the wooden xylophone (marimba) guys in front of the Sr. Frog's Store too. We had a great afternoon and sunset once again didn't look too promising, so we headed back to the room to get ready for the St. Patty's celebrations. We gave Linda a ride back to Sea Cliff and hopped out to get the tour. What a BEAUTIFUL rental!! Standing in the kitchen, looking out to the Caribbean through the sliders in the sunken living room, it almost looks like the waves are going to crash right in!! This place has all the amenities you could ask for – what a great rental for a family or two couples.
We showered and dressed in our St. Patty's “sillery”, loaded a bag with all our St. Patty's goodies and started walking to catch a cab. While we were walking, we were treated to a magnificent light show by Mother Nature. It is pitch black on the south end, and there was heat lightning out over the Caribbean. We stopped several times to take in the show, and were treated to our first shooting star together!! A cab soon came along to collect us and deliver us to Centro.
Well, all I can say is WHAT A PARTY!!! Between all of us, we had more beads, shamrock shot glasses, shamrock head bands, blinky shot glasses, t-shirts, temporary tattoos, blinky rings, frozen mugs, cocktail napkins, green beer, etc. etc. etc.!! Inge and Carmita showed up; Doug & Eileen, Clayt, Deb & Morgan, Linda, Ali and Bunny, Garry and his group, Dinghy Dan and Ginny, Terry and Marlys, Brisa & Harry, Tiffany and lots more!! Island Nana (Judy) and husband stopped by too. Poor Miguel brought his wife, son, daughter and a friend to help out for the night; we made sure they were all decked out for the celebrations as well!!
We made friends with a woman by the name of Karen, from the states but now living on Isla. She and I got up to sing with the band a few times and were just howling with laughter. Garry and I sang Pink Floyd's “Comfortably Numb” (we were!!) with the band, which was well received by all the revelers.
Not sure where the time went, but it was soon time to call it a night. I went to say goodbye to Karen, who gave me an almost spine-crushing hug. Carmita slapped her on the butt and said “what are you doing hugging my JoAnne?” to which Karen replied, “I just love her!”. These are words that would haunt me in less than 48 hours.
Grabbed a cab home, and you know the rest... nite nite!!
Sunday, March 18 Cochinitas, Catamaran Catastrophe, and Chillin at Zama's
I was up by 9, dressed and headed out for Sunday Cochinitas in La Gloria. Stopped for more juice, then over to the Cochinita stand I found back in November. Cool!! Not only did I remember where they were, but they weren't sold out yet!! Bought a kilo, about a dozen tortillas and pickled onion for $6. Big gathering in the park across the street – looked kind of like a Sunday flea market – piles of clothing being picked over by the locals and money being exchanged.
Carmita was up when I returned, so we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast on the terrace, just the two of us. It was still quite windy and the seas were very choppy, so I had Carmita call the boat captain of the Catamaran that was to take 11 of us out for the day. Bummer!! He said it was way to choppy for us to enjoy, and we should call tomorrow morning. BOOOO!!! I doubted that I could get 11 for the next day, as a few of us had different agendas... oh well, we'll see what happens.
Doug and Eileen showed up to head down to meet the boat and we had to deliver the bad news. We were all so disappointed, as it sounded like such a fun day. They're headed to Holbox for the next 3 days, so even if it's a go for tomorrow, they won't be joining us. WAAAHHH!!! Tim soon joined us, we visited a bit and then Doug & Eileen headed back to their place. I warmed up the Cochinitas and Tim enjoyed his breakfast as well.
We headed down to the beach to deliver the bad news to the rest of the gang that the Catamaran postponed; Wendy & Marianne were enjoying their Sunday Cochinitas on the beach. A huge yacht was coming in – snapped a couple of pics and a guy from Rhode Island standing next to me tells me it's Michael Kelly's yacht (Avalon scam man). He's in jail, so guy from Rhode Island figures it's probably Kelly's son coming in to check on things over at the Avalon.
Clayt, & Deb arrive, as do Linda & Ali.... tell them about the boat being postponed. Linda & Ali want to stay and snorkel, we need a change of pace and decide to head to Zama's for the day. Clayt, & Deb decide to go too, so we give them a ride to the Roca Mar to pick up Morgan. Clayt doesn't like the way the tires are bulging with them on the back of the cart, so they decide to cab it over and we cart it.
We get there and they are JAMMIN with wealthy Mexicans from Cancun that came over on private boats. Our service lacked BIG TIME due to this; the waiter apologized profusely several times. Evidently, when wealthy Mexicans from the mainland say “jump” the Islenos say “how high?” We did enjoy our lunches however late they were delivered – Clayt, Deb and Morgan feasted on Lobster Quesadillas, Tim a burger and fries, and I had a wonderfully tender octopus sauteed and in butter delicately spiced.
We took a walk down towards Playa Tiburon and did some shelling and snapped some pics of the condos going up there; came back and enjoyed watching the Mexican families playing football on the beach. A couple of egrets swooped in to look for some dinner as did a couple of grackles. We watched a beautiful sunset with the private boats as a back drop and headed back for showers.
We cabbed it back to town for yet another night at Miguel's. First off, though, we walked down Hidalgo to see if Roy was back yet. NOT!! Hope he's not in jail LOL!! Got a pic of a banjo street player singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and tipped him a couple of pesos. Saw that Bamboo now has a sushi bar... hmmmmm fish looked good, maybe later this week! Saw Tiffany again, dining with some friends... Ran in to Christi and reminded her to come to our place tomorrow for a pool day. Back to Miguel's and I had to get a pic of the wooden bear that Clayt brought down for Miguel. He holds a “Bar Open” or “Bar Closed” sign – cute!! A teeny baby kitten emerged for the first time tonight, so of course I had to feed her... Clayt, Deb, and Garry showed up. Got to say hello again to Faith & John, who enjoyed a couple of dances together.
Probably the funniest event of the night came when a really drunk local came over to our table and was insisting to us that he knew us (NOT!!) and wanted to join us for a drink. Miguel sensed that something was wrong and ever so diplomatically came over to the table and was asking this Amigo what he wanted. The guy insisted he knew us. No, Miguel, we don't know him!! Miguel took him out in to the street, and after some very animated conversation and a hug, convinced the guy to be on his way. We called it a night, but not before I snapped a photo of Miguel's exhausted wife and friend, alseep in hammock chairs by the bar. Adios amigos, hasta luego!!
Monday, March 19 – No go Catamaran, Party on the Patio!!
I awoke to meeting Carmita on the terrace... when I got downstairs, she told me she had bad news for me. I immediately thought that she had gotten a call from home or something had happened to Jim during the night. Not so.... it appears that Karen, from St. Patty's night, passed away in her sleep the night before.... how very sad makes me wonder why we were brought together in the first place......
Well, we pretty much decided yesterday from all reports that the weather (wind) was NOT going to improve... saw Capt. Tony before heading to Zama's yesterday and he said the wind was not cooperating and did not know when he could take us to Contoy, just keep checking. With that in mind, we loosely planned a patio party at Jim's for today, inviting our flock. So, we slept in (ahhhhhhh) I had my juice and fruit stockpiled in the fridge, so I was good to go. When we finally emerged from our room, Brian & Laurie, who were staying in the Cabana room by the pool just emerged as well, offering Bloody Mary's. Why not????
Let the games begin!! A couple of Bloody's later, the troops arrived. Clayt, Deb & Morgan, Linda & Ali, and Christi.... what a fun day!! It was like a “Sunday at Jim's” but on a Monday!! Brian and Laurie decided to brave the cliffs and scale down for shell hunting... no thanks, but got some good pics of the process!! Christi brought some WONDERFUL tortas from Poc Chuc (Cuban) oh, my, GOD were they good!! Linda brought empanadas and we feasted and drank and had a wonderful time. Barbie did a pole dance for Bert by the pool (that tart) Construction on the house next door was humming, so we all went over to be nosy and took a self guided tour. This house is going to be amazing!! Four bedrooms and five baths, each bath except the maid's quarters has a window out to the most incredible view of the Caribe side. WAAAAHHHH!!! I want it!!! Brian and Laurie safely emerged from the cliffs with a wonderful booty of shells... Tim and Brian then challenged eachother to a belly-flop contest in the pool. Linda and I said f*ck it, and jumped in, freezing as it was, but invigorating; fun conversation among the girlfriends around the pool.
Sunset was approaching and our guests left; we showered and changed and headed into town with Brian and Laurie for dinner at Miguel's (note a pattern here?) Brian and Laurie had their own cart, a tad faster than ours, so they drove us all in.... Brian & I had the Moonlight Special and Tim and Laurie chose the filet mignon... everything was wonderful and of course I shared with the kitties again, who were ever so grateful!! Brian ended up picking up the eenie baby kitty after feeding it, and play time went well till kitty decided enough was enough and drew blood from Brian's finger!! Bad little kitty!! We shared a couple of Pomegranate Margaritas (gracias Miguel!!) and then Brian and Laurie wanted to head out to party for the night... we decided to head back to the room and enjoy some quiet time, so we caught a cab back to the room... listened to some music, had a couple of cerveza's watched the stars, then time for nite nite!!
Tuesday March 20.... Tim's feeling poorly!!
Awoke to another glorious day. Tim's a little under the weather due to heavy duty partying yesterday. Beach day planned, beach day went awry. Walked through town, got to Sergio's and Tim just felt like shit. Saw Dave & Shirl and Paul and Karen, who just arrived today. Tim wanted to go back down south, but I urged him to have something to eat. He had a cheeseburger a la Sergio and ate it all, but still felt shitty. I had my beloved shrimp cocktail, he wanted to go back to the room. I didn't want him to go alone, so we headed back, VERY early afternoon. He slept, I read.
Got to be time to go to Linda's for her party, Tim wanted to stay home. I showered and dressed and Carmita and I went out for a “girl's night”. The moon was once again beautiful. Orange, crescent shaped and in the form of a “smiley face”. Linda and Ali were mucho gracious hosts with more food to feed an army!! And delicioso!!
Wenesday, March 21.... the trip report is getting smaller....
Got to Centro mid morning.... cute little boy was cleaning the street in front of his mommy's and daddy's store.... hit the beach, no one wanted their pic taken again!! There was a “pirate” on the beach that caught my eye, “aye matie!!” Went home and cleaned up then headed dinner for our last night. Been looking all week for the gourd lamps, as I promised Esthakakis from Chris' Board that I would bring one back. None on Hidalgo, so we went over to Juarez... sweet!! Small selection, not much bargaining, but I got one for her!! WOOHOO!! Had dinner at Angelo's with Terry and Marlys, yummy Pasta with capers, olives and tuna for me, pizza with Italian sausage for Tim... Terry and Marlys chose a pizza. Before we finished dinner, we were surprised to see Doris & Vince looking over the menu and I went over to introduce myself and take a pic of their lovely family! Wished we could have gotten to know eachother better... oh well, another trip? On to Miguel's for our goodbyes. I cried as Miguel's wife hugged me.... this sucks!!! How I wish we could stay here in our paradise!! Gotta go pack. We arranged for a 7:30 cab; Jim and Carmita told us to make noise so they'd get up to say goodbye..... our last ni nite in paradise!! Packed and enjoyed the last of our libations on the terrace.... this sucks, I don't want to go home!! Ni nite my baby!!!
Thursday March 22
Up at 6:30, shower, brush teeth, dress appropriately, pack up the last of the crap.... Jim and Carm are waiting to send us off, the cab is waiting. WAAHHHH!!! Jim snaps a photo of us, we hug goodbye and are on our way!! Meet Terry & Marlys at the ferry, and we're off... so sad, but so grateful to see old friends and making new friends. Wish we could have spent more time with Paul & Karen, Dave and Shirl, but C'est la Vie.... another time.... Flight home WAS uneventful till our arrival in Philly. Flight to New Haven canceled. SHIT!! Now what??? Options thrown at us: they'll put us up for the night. Flight into New Haven already booked, but we can wait to see if someone doesn't show up. They'll fly us into Hartford or White Plains... great, our car is in New Haven.... how do we get there???? A gentleman who was scheduled for the same flight announces that he can't wait for any of the options, so he's gonna rent a car.... anyone wanna come along??? We opt to go along with him, along with a Yale student who just came home from spring break in Paris with his parents.... Five hours later (as opposed to the one hour flight) we were home.... dropped off Drew at his dorm at Yale and happily came home to our kitties!!! Hindsight to follow!!!