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Vacation Journal
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July 06 Isla Trip - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

By: ElDangeroso (View Profile)
Date: 7/20/2006

Hola amigos, was down in Isla 7/1-15 and have finally got caught up enough at work to post my trip report. This was my 6th time to Isla and after spending 2+ hours a day commuting at a new job here in Southern California I definitely needed a vacation. I flew from LAX on Ted (part of United) non-stop which was great, but the airline itself was really subpar and I would not fly them again. 5 hours was a long flight from when I used to fly into Cancun from San Antonio. Flight was about 45 minutes late as we were dodging thunderstorms, but flew through customs in less than 10 minutes and was happy to see Cancun Valet waiting there for me with an ice cold 6 pack of Sol. This was the 5th time using Cancun Valet and I cannot say enough good things about them.

Missed the 4:30 ferry so relaxed at Gran Puerto and caught the 5. Stayed at Suites Los Arcos where I have stayed the past 4 times. Someone had posted a negative comment recently in the Isla Chatter room about the way they were treated so I had contacted Vicki from Lost Oasis who said they are under new ownership and that she would speak with the new management. I do not know if she did or not, but I found the staff could not have been nicer as with my previous trips and I cannot say enough good things about their hotel and the most comfortable beds in Mexico. The price has gone up to $70/night versus $50/night when I was on Isla last summer, but I think it is a great value and well worth it.

Playa Norte was as beautiful as ever; however, there was a decent amount of seaweed lined up along the shoreline which I have only seen about 3-4 years ago after a close call with a hurricane. The bad news is that the loungers in front of Cabanas Maria del Mar have gone up to $5/day so for an umbrella and a lounger it was $10! 4 years ago it was $2/day and you got a ticket for a free cerveza for each item rented vs. tickets for free sodas now. They have upgraded to new loungers however which were quite comfortable. Now more bad news - Buho's is now using shot counters on their liquor bottles versus the free pour method and even drinking 2 for 1 I would not exactly call it happy hour as the drinks are so weak. Did have chicken nachos and the Mexican pizza twice here which were really good.

The heat was brutal with temps in the low to mid 90s with about the same humidity. Over the 2 weeks we had 2 thunderstorms which occurred late at night/early morning and it was cloudy/overcast about 4 days out of 15 so not bad at all. The breeze when we got any was a welcome respite and the water was surprisingly cool for this time of year which was refreshing.

Another puzzling fact was none of the tiendas are selling Modelo Especial anymore - I could only find Sol, Dos Equis, Tecate, and Superior so I am not sure what happened, but that was dissapointing as that is my favorite Mexican beer.

Food: For breakfast I went to Amigos one day and had the Don Quesito omelette which was really good. I also made it to M&J's Cazuela once and had a great cazuela ranchera and super fresh OJ. The remaining days I went to Alexia Y Giovanni's loncheria (except for 1 Saturday they were closed so I went to the loncheria at the end called Tacos Tumbras which was not nearly as good). I had excellent chicken enchiladas one day with a salsa verde and fried chicken with papas fritas (french fries) one day although I would say that it came out more like baked chicken. The other 10 times or so I had the chuleta a la yucateca (Yucatan style pork chops). I don't know what they use for marinade, but these are the best pork chops I have ever had; it comes with some lechuga, frijoles, rice, salsa caliente, and tortillas. All for about $5 with a Coke and propina (tip). I also ate at the rotisserie chicken place on Hidalgo by Fredy's 3 times for lunch - medio pollo (half chicken), frijoles, rice or spaghetti, onions, peppers, and tortillas with a beer for $6 with tip. Also grabbed a few slices of pizza from Pepe's pizza right off Hidalgo a few times coming back from Playa Norte. For dinner, I hit Rolandi's for lasagna - awesome, Bucanero's - various Mexican and seafood dishes which were all great and Cocteleria Picus a lot of times - lobster with drawn butter, pescado Veracruz - excellent. The word is out on this place as it was always packed. I also noticed that they are open for lunch as well. There is a new cocteleria also on the same street, but farther south - name starts with an M, but can't remember it; however, one of the Jax bartenders said it was very good. I had nachos a few times at Jax which were good and one of their giant cheeseburgers. It was great to see Michael and Jackie and to have them back up and running; really great folks and superb service. Bucket of 5 Coronas still $6 all day.

My friends were down from Minneapolis the second week I was there so I went over and bought a day pass at the Riu Cancun to hang out with them at the beach and pool all day. I would stay in Isla hands down versus Cancun, but for those of you who might want an occasional change I will have to say it is a very nice hotel.

I was very surprised that Isla was not very crowded. Apparently, a lot of European travel agents are telling clients not to go to Cancun due to the hurricane and people must have been worried about Isla too as there are usually a lot of Italian and French vacationers in July. I met up with a lot of Brits and some Germans. The truly sad news is the appearance of an influx of deep woods, hillbilly white trash crackers. There were so many of these idiots running around the island I felt like I was on the Redneck Riveria in Georgia/Florida. Extremely rude people, loud, demanding drinks, no please or thank you and just a total embarrasment. Maybe they were in Isla due to the fact that so many hotels are still under repair in Cancun, but I can say that their behavior was appalling and I, for one, go to Isla in large part to escape people like this. Really a shame.

The 2 weeks flew by as I relaxed and fell into a comfortable pattern of brunch at the loncheria, R&R on Playa Norte, happy hour, siesta, dinner, reading and totally recharging the batteries.

Left Saturday 7/15 and Cancun Valet was waiting for me at Gran Puerto, pretty quick line at United and at security and I was on my way back to reality. Less than 30 minutes to clear customs at LAX and I was back home in Hermosa Beach; tanned, relaxed and ready to face the brutal commute and 12 hour days. I will most likely be back in February; however, may try a trip to Panama and Costa Rica to mix things up a bit. I have some great pictures that I would be glad to share if anyone can tell me how to post them.

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