When I woke up early Saturday morning, it was hard to believe that the day I had been looking forward to for over a year was finally here! I had been packed for over a week so there wasnt much to do but get up, shower and leave for the airport. We parked our car at the Van Nuys Fly-Away (a parking lot with a shuttle bus that takes you to LAX) and as we were getting out of the car I realized something was missing. I asked my husband, Fred, "You packed the bag with the snorkel gear, right?" and by the look on his face I could tell he had not. So we threw everything back in the car, rushed back home, grabbed the bag and raced back to the Fly-Away. We got on the shuttle and were headed back to LAX about an hour later than planned. I was very nervous as we headed to the Mexicana counter because my ticket which was purchased through Expedia had a shortened version of my name and my passport had my full name. After numerous calls to both Expedia and Mexicana I was told that there was no way to change it, but that it "shouldnt be a problem”. Well, the ticket agent did not even blink an eye at the mismatched names as she calmly announced to us that our flight had closed at 9:00 - it was 9:15. My stomach dropped but the agent quickly asked a supervisor if she could let us on and he nodded yes and off we went to our gate. Whew! It was a pretty quick and uneventful flight to Cancun and being that it was a Saturday afternoon during Spring Break I was fully expecting the airport to be a zoo. I was pleasantly surprised when we walked downstairs right up to an open Immigration Window and were on our way to Baggage Claim in minutes. After getting our baggage we got in a short line for Customs and my hubby was convinced he would get the "red light." I had the camera out to take a picture of the light and while we were waiting I took a picture of a Customs Sign that said "Welcome to Mexico". Within seconds a customs agent came up to me and asked to see my camera. Not wanting to end up in a Mexican jail on our first day, I quickly obliged as I explained to him I just wanted the Welcome to Mexico sign. He understood but explained that you are not allowed to take pictures inside the airport and he watched as I deleted the picture. I am glad I didnt try to take a picture of the green light - yes it was green! - and we were quickly on our way to a waiting Best Day Shuttle. Although we paid for shared transport, we were the only ones on the shuttle and were quickly on our way to the ferry. As we drove through Cancun past the Wal-mart, Sams Club, McDonalds, Papa Johns, Starbucks, etc. etc., I was soooo happy we had chosen Isla for our Anniversary Trip! We pulled up to the Ferry at 6:00 just as it was pulling away and went and purchased our tickets expecting to have to wait for 30 min., but another ferry pulled up right behind it and we were heading to Isla at 6:10. I guess the ferries run more frequently when they are busy? The ferry ride was gorgeous as the sun had just set and the guitar music that was serenading us was lovely.
I could feel the stress of our daily lives just washing away into that beautiful blue water. I could hardly stand the excitement as we stepped onto the Island for the first time. We immediately took a taxi over to the Avalon. I know that the Avalon is not the most popular hotel around, but had booked it basically for free as a Timeshare Exchange and we were hoping that it would at least be bearable. I must say we were pleasantly surprised by the Avalon. Our check-in went quickly and smoothly and we were taken straight to our villa.
The villa was absolutely gorgeous – two balconies overlooking King’s Bath with an incredible sunrise view. The larger balcony had a built-in lounger where we spent many hours watching and listening to the crashing waves.
The villa was nicely decorated – must have been one of the remodeled ones - and the bed was actually pretty comfortable.
One air-conditioner in each room as well as a TV in each room – neither of which we used very often. Having the sliding glass doors open to the ocean breeze was all we needed. The grounds on the Avalon were very nice and there were always many workers cleaning, raking the sand, removing sea grass, etc.
When we first checked in, the girl at the front desk giggled as she realized that we did not have a baby and there was a request for a crib in our room. She said she would send a maid to remove it and we all had another chuckle as we realized that the request had been for an “egg-crate” mattress pad. After reading reviews about the bad service at the Avalon I was not expecting the crib to be removed anytime soon or to get the mattress pad, but I was once again pleasantly surprised that shortly after we got to our room, two very friendly maids came to take away the crib and re-make the bed with the mattress pad. In fact, the Avalon was so gorgeous I actually said to my husband that I had wished we had done All-Inclusive so that we never had to leave. But once we unpacked we headed across the bridge with our Map-Chick Map in hand in search of dinner. First, we needed to get some pesos at the 7-11 ATM, so we headed over there. We had originally planned on the Brisas Grill, but I am not really a huge seafood person, so we decided to look for some more traditional Mexican food for this evening. We decided to follow one person’s advice and just “follow our nose.” I must say when we first walked onto Hidalgo street tears literally came to my eyes. After researching Isla for so many months and seeing everything on a flat, cold computer screen, it was absolutely surreal to see Hidalgo Street come to life - people laughing and talking, children playing, dogs barking, cats darting past, music playing, shop owners trying to entice you in to see their wares, twinkling lights - it was absolutely charming – and it was at that moment that I truly fell in love and became a full-fledged Islaholic. We had only been on the Island for about an hour! So anyway, our nose led us to Don Chepo’s and it was a wonderful choice!
I had Poblano Chicken
and my hubby had the Garlic Fish.
Both were absolutely amazing – probably the best chicken I have ever had! The atmosphere and the service were also wonderful. All thoughts of going All-Inclusive at the Avalon quickly disappeared. After dinner we went in search of the marquesita cart – I could not wait to try that gooey, sweet, goodness and once again I was not disappointed.
Then it was off to Miguel’s for our first taste of the infamous Pomegranate Margaritas.
Miguel was of course a wonderful host and agreed to hang up a USC blanket if we brought it back to him on our next trip – we really couldn’t handle the Longhorn’s one! After a truly magical evening we headed back to the Avalon and enjoyed some time out on the balcony listening to and watching the majesty of the crashing waves.
After watching our first amazing surnise from the balcony,
On Sunday morning we had decided to try the Public Market for some traditional Conchita Pibil – what an experience!!! Of course we had no clue what we were doing and upon finally finding a stall with some pork and communicating that we did not want tacos, but rather a bag of pork to go – we ended up with a kilo of pork for $240 pesos!!! I couldn’t believe it, but we got a good laugh out of it all week as well as a couple of meals and some leftovers for the puppy friends I made on our daily walks to and from the Avalon. At the market we also bought fresh tortillas and orange juice and decided to take it back to our balcony at the villa. We made our own breakfast complete with an incredible view.
We had originally planned to explore downtown and then try and find Tino the Rib Guy for lunch, but we figured we had had plenty of pork for one day, so instead we headed for our first snorkeling adventure into King’s Bath. We took some of the tortillas with us and were soon surrounded by dozens of colorful fish.
We snorkeled there for quite awhile before venturing over to the Avalon Bridge to try out the snorkeling. We saw some great fish there also, as well as a huge eel! After a couple of hours of snorkeling we decided to shower, change and head down North Beach. It was Sunday afternoon and very crowded – of course, it was gorgeous but it was hard to even find a space to walk. We walked all the way down and then headed to Jax for some much needed refreshments – a bucket of Coronas and an order of guacamole!
What a great way to spend the afternoon! We saw this "guard dog" as we were walking around.
We then headed back to the Avalon and watched a gorgeous sunset on the beach
before we once again ventured out for dinner. We ended up at Fredy’s on Hidalgo and unfortunately it was not a great experience. I was not feeling great – too many Corona’s!!! – and I wanted something easy on the tummy. Enchilladas sounded good and so I ordered the Cheese Enchilladas and hubby ordered Grouper in a green chile sauce.
My hubby really enjoyed the fish, however, the enchiladas were not at all what I was expecting – the cheese was very greasy and the enchiladas were fried and had very little sauce on them. A few bites was all I could eat as they were making me feel sicker than ever. The other problem was it was the worst service we received all week – very unfriendly and slow – we felt as if we were intruding. So we headed off in search of Dinner #2 for me – Sancocho’s Grill and some chicken tacos
which I enjoyed very much along with my numerous kitty friends.
Much better service and it was easy on my stomach. As much as I wanted another marquesita it did not seem like the best choice with my still somewhat queasy stomach, so we headed to Cool Ice Cream instead. Wow! We got the After Eight and the Nutella – yum, yum!!!
We then strolled back across the bridge to the Avalon and some relaxing time on the balcony. Our first full day on the Island had come to an end much too quickly!