My First trip to the Yucatan – Isla Mujeres 1993
After 8 nights in Playa del Carmen it was time to head to Isla Mujeres. I checked out of the Albatross Royal and had the receptionist get me a taxi to take me to the bus station. It was a HOT October day and I didn’t want to have to repeat the long walk to the station dragging my suitcase (this was before I had good wheel luggage). The taxi driver told me he would take me all the way to Puerto Juarez for $20 US. What a deal since back then that is what it cost to get to the Portland airport just 12 miles away from my house. The drive was great, no stopping at every village to pick up passengers like the bus ride to PDC. The taxi driver got confused and dropped me off at Punta Sam. I couldn’t communicate very well with him to tell him I think he went too far. I pulled out my handy Yucatan guide book and decide this was no big deal since the car ferry departed from Punta Sam. I tried to buy a ticket but there was no one at the window. The next car ferry wouldn’t leave for over an hour or more according to some locals waiting there. No problem. I pulled out a book to read and sat in the shade. A man came over to me and asked me if I was going to Isla Mujeres. Yes, I told him. He said that I could go in his fast water taxi for very cheap. He grabbed my luggage and I got in the boat. The man asked me where I was staying. I told him Nabalam. No problemo! The water taxi stopped out in the water in front of Nabalam and one of the guys carried my luggage to the beach. I arrived at the hotel from the beach and checked in. I had an excellent, huge room on the 2 floor with a fabulous view. The palms were very short back then and did not obstruct the view. I paid $45 a night for a week with two free nights thrown in plus a great continental breakfast.
The first afternoon on Isla I walked in to town and wandered around. Hidalgo was not a pedestrian only street back then. After some window shopping I went to Pinguinos at Posada del Mar and ate some nachos and drank a couple of cervezas. I decided to walk back to Nabalam on the beach. There was no Sergio’s Playa Sol in 1993. I went around the bend where Condos Nautibeach are and smacked a toe on a wood piling buried in the sand. I hobbled back to Nabalam in much pain. I went to the bar and asked for some ice to put on my toe. The next morning the manager of the hotel asked me if I wanted her to call get the Red Cross doctor to come look at my toe. I thought why since it was probably broken and a doctor wouldn’t do anything for me?
I spent most of this trip on the beach right in front of Nabalam since I couldn’t walk far. The manager of the hotel did accommodate me by moving me to a ground floor room and bringing me a big bowl to use to soak my foot in ice water.
I remember eating dinner at Pizza Rolandis and having an ex-pat sit with me and he tried to get me to go dancing. Not going to happen I told him I have a broken toe. Later I found out that this man scared several young women enough that they left the island earlier than planned.
I went as far as what is now the Sunset Grill one night. I think the name of the restaurant then was Chez Magly. I was amazed at the number of cats that wondered through the restaurant as I ate dinner. Other than that I think I ate most nights at NaBalam so I didn’t have to walk into town.
After spending time in Playa where there were few if any English speaking tourist it was nice to sit at the Nabalam bar every evening and visit with the Americans staying there as well as American ex-pats and boat crews stopping on their way further south for the winter.
The day came to have to start my long trip back to Portland. I took a taxi to the ferry dock and ended up on a water taxi again since the ferry didn’t seem to run as often as it does today. I didn’t know what to think when the water taxi arrived at Puerto Juarez and a kid grabbed my bags and starting running with them. It turned out that he was hustling rides for one of the taxi drivers. The taxi that now had my bags stowed in the trunk was not the first taxi in line. There was almost a fist fight between the taxi drives. I didn’t care who took me to the airport as long as I had my bags.
The long trip home consisted of Cancun to Tampa where I went through Immigration and Customs, then the next stop was in Minneapolis, then off to Seattle. I had planned on just waitng in the airport for my early AM flight to Portland but by now my left foot and leg was swollen up to my knee so I found a cheap hotel to get a few hours of sleep. Which never happened because I didn’t feel very safe I this hotel.
I got finally got home and called my doctor. I got right in and the x-ray showed a broken toe. A little tape and a prescri-ption for pain pills and I was sent home.
I really enjoyed this first trip to the Yucatan but would not return until April 1996 with my sister for a week on Isla then a week in Akumal.