27 Feb – 06 March 2013: Isla Mujeres, Caribbean Mexico
Where did all these people come from?
Arriving in Isla Mujeres after weeks in sleepy uncrowded Belize has been a major assault on our senses. This small, low lying island is about 10 miles off the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.. In the distance high-rise hotels line the long white sandy beaches of tourist laden Cancun on the mainland, that is where the bulk of the tourists stay. However 100’s do the “island adventure” outing and pile off the regular ferries into the small town here daily – they get to fry on the beaches, eat in the cafes and stroll through an endless number of souvenir shops all selling the same things. Few make it past the main streets and don’t get to glimpse the real Mexico – just a couple of blocks inland.
The anchorage here lies in the middle of the harbour, it’s a busy spot. Several “day boats” ply the waters between Cancun and here, a couple seem to offer sedate tours with a running commentary, but most are party boats. Well oiled bodies squeeze together for space, or bounce (possibly dance?) up and down on the trampolines of some seriously overloaded catamarans while music blares out – on a couple of these boats it seems clothes are optional – but all look to be having plenty of fun!
Getting Tired of Northers
We spent our first week in Mexico at anchor then moved into the cute one-dock marina at El Milagro Marina. We wanted to leave Balvenie for a week and go off to explore inland plus there was yet another norther wind coming. It seemed a good idea to combine the two, Balvenie safely tied up while we were off travelling. But as the arrival of the norther drew closer it was apparent that this was going to be the liveliest of the season to date, sustained high winds from the north west and a big swell forecast for several days – maybe best to stay on board plus it was not going to be great weather for touring.
Our ever present list of boat jobs kept us busy while the winds howled through. It was also very good to re-join the real world with internet access, we manage ok when we don’t have it but it is great to be able to catch up on news, sports, blogs, and do the chores like check the bank statements and pay all the bills. There are free bikes in the marina for our use so we have had plenty of exercise cycling around - exploring the island, cycling to the supermarket and into the small in town.
We haven’t yet discovered the “best burritos” but have found a great local stall with awesome quesadillas around $2.50 NZD ($2 USD) each, the search for burritos goes on in earnest.
The task of finding the best Margaritas has been taken seriously indeed – even Mark who generally doesn’t indulge in cocktails has been seen sipping away on a lime Margarita before switching over to a Sol or Corona (with lime – of course). I’m not even sure I actually like Margaritas, - the things one must endure in the name of research!!!
The winds finally abated and it was time to say farewell to David and Brenda off Bandit, they took the chance to cross the Yucatan Straits on the back of the norther and headed for Southern Cuba. We hope to catch them again soon.
Meanwhile we extended Balvenies marina berth stay, tossed up between local transport or hiring a car – booked a hire car, filled up our day packs, closed up Balvenie and headed for the mainland. It was time for a taste of Mexico and its history by exploring the Yucatan Peninsula.