TRIP REPORT – PART TWO
February 21 – March 1, 2005
Gail in New York State (NYS)
Thursday, 2/24/05 – Kathryn and I meet at Bucanero’s at 8:45 and hustle over to Gomar’s to get a golf cart before they run out. (We had heard this was happening to some people during this week). Since we were pretty early, we had out pick. We decided to get cart for 24 hours - $55 – and reserve two more for Kathryn’s friends, coming over on the ferry for the day from Cancun. As we wait for them in front of the ferry dock, Kathryn breaks out hundreds of red, white and green bead necklaces with which to decorate our cart! It looks like a Mardi Gras float and brings many smile to all the people we see! The colors represent the Mexican Flag, and today in Mexican Flag Day! Kathryn goes to meet her friends on the dock; I continue to tape beads on our cart – and spy these cute little girls, all dressed in their school uniforms. They must have been on a little school field trip – their teacher had run a quick errand, perhaps. I ask them if they would like some beads, and, of course, what woman would refuse jewelry! Smiles and “Gracias” all around – now Kathryn is back with her 10 friends from another message board she belongs to….we go back to Gomar’s pick up two more carts, and off to tour the bars of Playa Norte…”It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere…” From west to east, first to NaBalam bar…an hour there….then to Buhio’s – an hour there….now it’s time for lunch, off to Playa Lanchero’s. What great fun these people from Minnesota/Iowa/ were! Happy, funny, just great company! Before we leave Playa Norte Kathryn tapes more beads on all the carts, American Flag on each, and off we go!
Playa Lanchero’s is not crowded, but it is busy. Many orders of Tix N Chix, I get chicken tix n chix. Takes a very, very, long time to get the food. I think they had to go catch the barracuda first. And barracuda is it, complete with head, eyeballs and TEETH! I couldn’t look at Kathryn’s plate with that teethy mouth hanging off of it ---and if you turned it over, the side that was less cooked, it really looked – well – fierce! Some had fun taking pictures next to the fish….gross me out or what??? BTW – the Tix n Chix – well, it was labeled as “okay” by those who had it – not the drop dead fabulous stuff that has been described by so many. I liked my chicken, it had the same seasonings on it – but, again, not drop dead fabulous. Just our opinion, maybe it is better other days.
This was my second visit to Playa Lanchero’s – first time last summer it was buggy, no Tix and Chix (said we were too early), and whatever we had was just mediocre. The beach there has a lot of grass in the water, and looks unappetizing. They have some tables selling things, no bargains. I am just not impressed with the place, and this visit, there is a lady sitting outside the ladies room SELLING SHEETS OF TOILET PAPER!!!! Every toilet paper dispenser in the ladies’ room had been emptied so you either bought it, had napkins from the table or Kleenex, or drip dried!!! Sorry, but I think if I am patronizing a place, that is obviously quite busy and profitable, I should not have to BUY SHEETS OF TOILET PAPER!!! I have permanently crossed this place off my list of places to go. Lots of other places sell this Tix and Chix and I don’t eat fish anyway so what’s the diff’!?
I have an appointment to meet Zina (AKA Madam ZZ), another e-mail buddy from the message board. Kathryn and I scoot off to Colonia La Gloria and leave the caravanites at Lanchero’s to continue the fiesta. I have pickled ginger and reading glasses for Zina, two commodities impossible to find on Isla! Zina isn’t there, I wait a while, leave a note with the gifts, and we are now off to Jim Morgan’s. Even though it is not Sunday he has invited us, via the message board, to stop by on our tour of the island.
Jim greets us so graciously to his beautiful home. My buddy Paula is there with the entire Massachusetts gang. A short while later, in pops Zina, who had gotten hung up in town with golf cart repairs – we are so happy to finally meet each other. Karyn from the UK is there, too…finally, names and faces together…how wonderful! In pops Carmita, who had been in town, she is a wonderful hostess. Jim has his sister and brother-in-law visiting, too, so it is a full house, sitting on his beautiful patio overlooking the sea and pool. The Minnesota gang leaves to catch the ferry, but Kathryn and I stay on and have a wonderful time and wonderful visit. Depart Jim’s about 5:30 go back to town for shower, siesta. Kathryn had had reservations at El Caracol, but when she arrived last night – guess what, no room for her! They sent her to another hotel for the night – can’t remember which but she was not pleased! She now was in El Caracol for the rest of her stay (I saw her room – it was okay, but for the price - $55 – I thought mine at Bucanero’s was much nicer, except for the STAIRS!)
Today Bucanero’s moved me from the 4th floor (they call it the 3rd – ha!) to the 2nd floor (their “first” floor”. I am very please as I now feel I can return to my room more than once a day if I need to! (Those stairs are for the young and/or people in very good shape – of which I am neither!) I am very pleased with the new room and it has a refrigerator, which is very nice to have.
Kathryn and I meet at 8 and go to Amigo’s for dinner, I had raved to her about the Sopa de Lima, and she wanted to try it. We find ourselves so very much in tune with each other….we both love cookbooks, and actually read them in the way others read novels! Both teachers, both with similar marital histories, many other things….it was a joy to be with her and slide of easily into such a compatible relationship! At Amigo’s we each had the soup – which was just as fabulous as it had been Monday. They serve it with the round, puffy bread that is spread with oil and garlic….fabulous, We also split a mozzarella, gorgonzola, tomato pizza….that was drop dead fantastic….we were practically orgasmic, it was that fabulous!!! If you like bleu cheese – YOU GOTTA TRY THIS!!!! We were happy campers when we finished that meal, and, although the Massachusetts gang had asked us to meet them at the Posada bar, we were both too pooped from the long day to drag ourselves over there!
Friday, 2/25/05 – Meet Kathryn, Paula, John. Marc and the girls for breakfast at the French Bistro. Page is a French Toast junkie, I had suggested the F.B. to them and they are now hooked on it. Page, who is 13 and weights about two pounds, wet, orders a double order of the French Toast. She continues to do this every morning until they leave – the waiter just shakes his head, looks at her and says “She kills me, she really kills me!” It is really hysterical to see this tiny kind consume that much bread!
We split up to meet again at Garrafon de Castilla for snorkeling. Massachusetts crowd headed for the Turtle Farm first. BTW – the girls are no longer “bored”…they have swum with the dolphins, been to Contoy, had several trips to Hortensia’s and learned to bargain on Hildalgo with the best of them! They are having a ball and Daddy Marc is so pleased (and relieved!)
Kathryn and I go back to Gomar’s to take the cart for another 24 hours, then make a pit stop at Hortensia’s – I’ve brought a dress from home I would like her to try to copy. I choose the fabric for two dresses and she tells me they will be ready today. We then leisurely go down to Garrafon de Castilla about 11:30. The ocean is somewhat choppy this morning, looks a lot different that when I was last there in July…when it was like a tranquil lake. I am thinking, hum, this looks a little dicey…but I had dragged my fins and snorkel stuff 1500 miles, I was not to be deterred! In I go and though surfy I am having a fine time communing with my fishies, sergeant majors, damselfish, blue tangs, etc. Don’t see my stingray from last summer, but still fine snorkeling, nonetheless. Gee, I’m kinda far out, guess I should get closer…hey, I’m out here all alone – just violated rule #1 for divers – never dive alone – same rule applies for snorkeling – Kathyrn is on the shore…I realize I had just done a really dumb thing, start to go back….now I am thinking, which way is the best way? As I get closer to shore the surf is getting rough, I chose incorrectly – to exit to the right, the side nearest Garrafon Park, instead of up the ladder or on the left – where there is less surf. I think I see an opening in the coral…but it is rough…I eventually get out, but I got knocked around a little, lost my snorkel (found later by another snorkeler, Thank goodness), and now have about 10 lbs. of sand in my bathing suit. Once I get out I am thinking what a dumb thing I had done…and then see than everyone who went in snorkeling had on a life vest – everyone but me! Never have I snorkeled with a vest – and did not need one in July at all…but it certainly would have helped this day….I take note that the sea conditions on Isla are quite different in the winter than in the summer. I won’t forget that again!
About 1:30 Zina comes by and invites Kathryn and I to lunch in La Gloria near her home – and to give us a tour of her neighborhood. Off we go, Zina takes us to a little storefront restaurant where they are serving the comida corrida – rez adobo, Beef with a wonderful, complex sauce, a Mexican specialty. It was fabulous. Meal began with a soup that tasted like my grandma’s Italian Meatball soup – didn’t have meatballs, but had pasta in it. Delicious. We also had watermelon water – how refreshing! Cost of very hearty lunch – about $4 without tip. GET SERIOUS!!! Marco, the owner of the restaurant, is a retired Naval Captain and a teacher and tutor. He tutors students from the Piaget school across the street for no charge and if they have a good lesson – they get to play in the video arcade he has set up next door – and he supplies the money to go into the machines!! He is very happy to meet Kathryn and me, as we are both teachers. Zina has me present him with one of the many pairs of reading glasses I had brought down at Zina’s suggestion – these being very difficult to come by on Isla – he is trilled with them! They are in a red metal tube, with a clip like a pen so he can put them in his pocket. He thinks they are cool! Zina tells me he will use them to show off when he goes to the Naval Officers’ club meetings!
Zina then takes us on a wonderful tour of La Gloria Colonia – it reminds me of when my home town was a small town, and I was a little girl out shopping with my grandparents – particular stores for particular purchases. A panderia for breads and baked goods, the shrimp man’s house, little markets for fruits, vegetables. My Italian grandparents did the same,- fish store for fish – bakery for bread – vegetable man for fresh veggies – no Super Stop and Shops, or one-stop shopping. It was a wonderful, nostalgic tour back to another, slower age. And everyone knows everyone, waving at Zina as we went passed.
After a wonderful visit with Zina, and a tour of her cute pink house with her new extension for guests, we head back to El Centro to pick up my dresses from Hortensia. They are perfect – and I ask her to make me another beach top just like Paula’s – which she does in 5 minutes…I am totally in heaven!
On our way through the colonias, we stop along the way to give out the beads we still have on the cart. What a big hit, even the grandmas want some! I also had little bottles of bubbles with little fish atop each bottle, which we distribute to children, also. Little rubber rings with creatures on them – butterflies – bus – lobsters and other creepy crawlies – we are a big hit and leave behind many, many smiles. We feel great and have so much fun doing it!
A benefit is being held in the Casa de Cultura for the Little Yellow Schoolhouse – I am told tickets are sold out, but I wander over to give a donation. “Rattlesnake Annie”, a country folksinger, is singing to a packed crowd. I stay a little while, and then I am off to meet Kathryn and the Massachusetts Connection, headed by Paula, at Poc Chuc. (Another suggestion from the message board). We have one great meal in a very small but spotlessly clean place; it is on Absolo Street, just one block in from Medina. I had Beef Tampiqueno – it was great. With beer and tip, meal came to about $10 per person… amazing. Off to Posada bar for nightcaps – gee they make a great Pina Colada there! I am the first to fade out around 10:30…another wonderful day in paradise!