Sunday, December 09, 2007

Who Needs Turkey . . .

when you've got margaritas and ceviche in paradise?

(Many thanks to Tristan, who took most of these photos!)

Our first morning in Isla Mujeres, Tristan thought we should get the tour of the island out of the way so we could spend the rest of our time lying on the beach without worrying that we were missing something. So we did what you do when you want to see the other 4.5 miles of the island: we rented a golf cart.

Here's the whole island, half a mile wide at its widest, and about 5 miles long. Sorry, the image is really small, but that wider bit at the top is the north end of the island where we stayed and where most of the restaurants, shops, etc. are.

Here's a closer look at the north end:

First we stopped at Captain Tony's to arrange a tour of Isla Contoy, a nearby bird sanctuary, for the next day.

Tony's dad, who looks like he's about 100 and doesn't speak any English, took our deposit.

Then we drove to the turtle sanctuary and rescue center. They follow the female turtles when they lay their eggs, and gather the eggs so that people and other predators don't get them. They bury them at the center.

They keep the turtles from baby . . .

through adult:

T told some of the tourists about turtle rescue, since there wasn't much in the way of interpretive materials.

Mocking the fan palm in front of the turtle center

Then we stopped for Tik n Xic fish, a local specialty. It is fish rubbed with achiote paste then grilled on a big open grill. You tell them how many are eating fish, and they pick the right size fish for you. Served with tortillas, chopped cabbage and salsa. It was so good we forgot to take a "before" picture!

Then we drove down to the tip of the island and back up the east coast, where we stopped for some shell hunting.

Like I said, renting a golf cart is what one does on Isla Mujeres, and on the way back to the hotel it seemed we were behind every other golf cart on the island!

The next morning, we went back to Captain Tony's for our tour to Isla Contoy. We waited . . .

and waited . . .

and finally Tony came and told us that he didn't have enough people for a tour. We got our deposit back and headed for the beach. Mostly that's where we stayed for the rest of the trip.

I promised Tristan that there was a guy who walks up and down the beach selling coconuts. He finally came by on the third or fourth day we were there.

The theory is, he whacks off the top, puts in a straw, and leaves you to drink the coconut water for a while. Then he comes back and chops the coconut open so you can eat the meat. We waited and waited but he never came back. Finally I got tired of waiting, and inspired by too much Survivor and the sharp fenceposts, went to work.

And it worked!

Visiting the palapa bar:

Guacamole in paradise (really, they brought it to us on the beach!)

Dude, where's my margarita?

Our morning haunt:

One morning, Manana was closed so we moved to Aluxes, a block away:

There was a new ice cream shop on the island since our last visit. The owner makes all the ice cream in small batches and serves them out of tupperware containers stored in a tiny freezer. She is charming and her ice cream is delicious! Tom settled immediately on chocolate and banana and never deviated, but the rest of us kept trying: coconut (coco), cinammon (canela), mango, blackberry (zarzamora), limon, strawberry (fresa). We went every day without fail. Mmmm, they were all wonderful!

There are lots of stray but friendly dogs on Isla Mujeres. Various businesses (Including Manana and Cool) collect funds to get them veterinary care and to feed them.

Last time we were in Isla, Theresa nearly brought a dog home with us. This time she came prepared with dog bones. Bags and bags of them. The first morning there were two dogs romping on the grass behind the hotel, and there was Theresa, throwing them dog biscuits. Unfortunately, she didn't count on the fact they the dogs are used to scraps of human food. Most of them just buried the dog biscuits in the sand.

Here she is giving one of the dogs water out of her snorkle mask:

The north beach lost a lot of beach in the big hurricanes that hit the Yucatan since our last visit. We watched the guys from our hotel move seaweed and sand every day as they rebuilt the beach behind the fences. The palm trees were threatened by the receding beach and had been stabilized with ropes. One afternoon a couple of the guys started climbing the palm trees to adjust the ropes.


The cemetery

This guy stopped us on our way from coffee to the beach one morning and sold us a coconut, which he hacked open on the spot:

Lots of vendors wander up and down the north beach. This guy must've been carrying 50 baskets.

Some scenery

Goofing off on the pier:

Tom and Tristan hunting for shells:

Shell hunting loot:

Tequila with scorpions. Ick!

Bye Isla Mujeres! We'll be back next year!