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Vacation Journal
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An Isla Oldie Returns with Observations and Suggestions

By: giniconroy (View Profile)
Date: 6/2/2006

This Isla "oldie" just got back to the states two days ago and when I close my eyes, I can still see the sea! And the tears flow . . .

Observation: The sand shift from Cancun to Isla not only left a wider beach, it left a shallower sea at Playa Norte...had to trudge and shallow-swim to get out far enough to be toe-tip deep and get a real swim, and there the undertow waits to take you clear around Playa Sol to who-knows-where. Suggestion: Let's take up a collection to have the powers-that-be dredge up some of that superfluous sand and give it back to Cancun.

Observation: From a very pleasant Dane who wandered past our lovely domain on the Caribe side one dusk, we learned just how high propery is selling for these days on Isla . . . He was quite pleased that he'd just purchased a lot across from the Colegia de Bachelere's just north of Punta Piedra for $115,000US! But said though he'd seen many beaches all over the world, including Fiji, Isla was the most beautiful of all. Told us he'd shopped Punta Sur and lots were $300,000US and up there!!! He was a stock trader from Denmark with a good deal of savvy and urged us to "buy now!!!" (BTW—he also mentioned that the world ‘outside the box’ of the US thought our current ‘administration’ was a buffoon who drummed up the Iraqi war for gain).

Observation: You absolutely can buy sugar free yogurt at San Francisco mini super! The brand name is Nestles and it was superb. Suggestion: Eat it with everything from salsa to avocado to chicken with lime – we did during the week we cooked.

Observation: My old love Posada del Mar – almost ain't what it used to be. I booked our room pretty far in advance and requested an upper floor in the old section... lo and behold, we were put in a third floor room in the new section (rooms are smaller, view not as good, and the roomy bathroom with no window was no compensation for the smaller room with no view). Lucky for us when Mariano came on the desk he understood my plea --I've been going to the Posada for 16 plus years (during which time he was the clerk on the desk) and offered us the little room on the roof. He also personally brought us a styrofoam ice chest. We moved to the room on the roof with the understanding we could move to a lower floor – but not the first floor -- in the main building on Sunday. Alas, Sunday morning came and Mariano was not at the desk. The strange and sullen boy who was on the desk refused to move us, saying there were no vacancies on the second or third floors of the main building (though I'd just seen vacant rooms being cleaned on the third and second floor). He also told us we had already changed rooms twice -- never mind it was only once and we'd not so much as used the bano in the original room. So we stayed on in our rooftop nest where the phone was broke and the hot water was none. We were more than compensated by the heartbreakingly beautiful view of the sea and the utter privacy. The maid was as superb as her towel sculptures -- she fashioned a fantastic swan with a hibiscus in its mouth one day. But that last flight of stairs really got to us, and when we walked across the darkened roof at night we were glad of the flashlight I’d brought. But our maid brought us two extra pillows and an extra towel, Romi was his usual beaming and comical self, the prices at Pinguinos were pretty much the same as two years ago, and the hotel has only raised its rates from $46US to $52. And La Posada is still the queen of the Caribe with its soft, Spanish-colonial beauty. On our last night I was feeling tired and mi companero went down to bring up some food. What he brought up was a robust, smiling waiter bearing a huge trayfull of food and a fishboat of Manzanilla tea for my queasy stomach! Finally, when we were checking out at 8:30 Tuesday morning, having no bellboy, Mariano himself came up to the roof to help with our luggage. Perfecto!

Observation: The Ixchel condos are pretty dreadful...a huge pile of concrete on one side and the skeleton of the second building rising on the other. Row upon row of beach chairs stood out on the beach, like a platoon of soldiers mustered in full dress, waiting for occupants who never came. But the food and service at the beach restaurant Palapa Leydil where we always eat late lunches was impeccable and still amazingly reasonable. Sitting in the shadow of the sterile condo-in-the-making, it completely ignores it. The musica says fiesta and the staff dances quickly to serve. The owner-chef goes into the kitchen to prepare food then comes out to a table to sit and drink and joke with a tablefull of friends. There is much laughter and many 'Ay Cabrones' bellowed from his table. On the second day, our waiter remembered to bring us a cenicerro and a side of mayonesa with our cubas and camarones al mojo de ajo. The shrimp, butterflied and grilled and soaking in garlic butter sauce, was done to perfection and served with herbed rice, lightly sauteed and herbed tomatoes, slices of avocado, a portion of shredded cabbage and a covered bowl of tortillas, fresh and hot, with the customary bowl of salsa. La gusta!

Observation: Ive been to Isla in early March, May, June, and August as well as late June and August. What I failed to remember is that there is a “little rainy season” in late May and June which precedes the hot tropical season that spawns hurricanes. And we hit it... so, we had 3 days of full sun, 2 days of partial sun and the rest, overcast. Some heavy rain on two of the nights we spent on the Caribe side. But, all in all, it is still the most wonderful place in the world to be.

Suggestion: We made it a point to overtip. No matter if la cuenta for dinner was only $197MP, we tipped $50MP . . . We found the waiters to be profoundly grateful, and I could see by the looks that it was sorely needed.

Observation: If there is anything more poignant, more beautiful, more entrancing than coming to Isla, it is leaving her. We caught the 9 am UltraMar ferry and sat up on the open deck. Dragging my suitcase down the wooden pier, I look down to the clear, pale pale green water lapping at the shore. The lump was in my throat again. We settle on the yellow bench that borders the upper deck and I scan the Island… there are the upper balconies of Hotel Gomar, there the bright green letters of the Oxxo 7-11, there the lighthouse that sits in front of La Posada, and far down the beach the sunny turquoise blue that marks the beginning of Playa Norte. How I envy the people who just disembarked and are now walking in every direction on this Island.

The ferryman touches his horn and the warning note sounds over the sea… It says: “Come quickly now, I am leaving, leaving, leaving…” The boarding plank is swiftly drawn out and the ferryman deftly manuevers his craft out and away. The ferry picks up speed, its wake foams and the deepblueturquoiseaquamarine seas, that are Isla’s alone, ripple and swell and slide: here that impossible blue, here dark waters covered with glinting spangles and sparkles of reflected sunlight, here deep indigo blue. The ferryman, obscure in his dark tinted-windowed booth, plays music… it is sea music so beautiful, so mournfull, so sweet… away, away, away. . . Then Isla Mujeres is just a long, hazy line on the horizon where sea meets sky. But we know the suggestion and will heed it: Come back.

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