Position: 21 14.574 N 080 44.574 W
We have just spent 3 delightful weeks in Isla Mujeres, an island off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The island is only 4 miles long and less than ½ mile wide. Ferries carrying tourists and locals going shopping run back and forth all day to Cancun on the mainland. It’s a very colorful town with lots of reds, blues, yellows, greens, and oranges.
The locals are very friendly and VERY forgiving of our bad (barely existent, really) Spanish. We try not to talk in English and they try to understand. Often they will ask if anyone speaks English and a passerby will pop into the shop and translate.
We’ve spent many happy hours wandering round the back streets, discovering new places each time.
Prices are cheap here, once we figured out how to convert pesos per kilogram to dollars per pound, we were amazed. Oh and did we mention the $1 beers? Unfortunately with this warm weather and the price we tend to drink more than we normally would (yeah, right).
Launchas, local fishing boats moored up to the beach
The town has an open market every day, 2 grocery stores, and lots of little shops selling almost everything you need. And if you can’t find what you want you can get the ferry over to Cancun and shop at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, OfficeMax, Burger King, MacDonald’s, or any of several other familiar sounding retailers.
The local grocery has big fresh baked bread rolls for a peso (about 8 cents) and tenderloin steak for 74.95 pesos per kilogram ($2.65 / lb) plus lots of fresh vegetables and deliciously sweet local oranges. If you have a lot of groceries to carry the cab ride from downtown back to the marina, about a mile, is only 20 pesos ($1.58).
Colourful Isla Mujeres cemetery
We have taken advantage of the cheap prices and actually eaten out a few times; fresh fish in a beachside restaurant, sopes (pronounced “so-paiss”) at a roadside stand, the best guacamole on the island at a little restaurant on a side street downtown, lunch in the one room home of a small “mom & pop” eatery in the local residential part of town, etc. Life doesn’t get much better.
We spent a few days at a marina when we first got here, unusual for us but we needed to ‘clear in’ (go through the immigration and customs routine which is normally done at the airport). It’s usually a bit of headache when cruising and involves going between different offices (immigration, customs, health and sanitation, the port captain, etc.) in different locations in town and lots of waiting. The marina provided the service for us for a small fee so we took advantage of that. Being a bit off our best from sailing for three days to get here, the last thing we wanted was to try and negotiate a bureaucratic clearing in process – especially with our “limited” Spanish.
On a day trip to Cancun we were serenaded at the outdoor market (mercado municipal)
Marina Paraiso is great!! It’s more like a little community - everyone there is very friendly and helpful. The owner had been out fishing the day we arrived with some of the ’residents’ and they came back with a big sailfish. That night they hosted a happy hour and served sailfish sushi and everyone brought other side dishes. We had several of these sunset gatherings during our time here. They continued to invite us to these gatherings even after we left the marina and anchored out in the harbor. We thought that was nice. They have an honor bar, too! You just help yourself to a beer and mark it down on your card and at the end of the week, when it’s time for them to go and buy more beer, everyone pays their tab and the cooler is refilled. Are you getting the idea that we might have put on a few pounds, or kilos, these last 3 weeks?
We can see why people come here and spend a month or two or a season. It’s really grown on us and we look forward to returning here one of these days.
Now, however, it’s time for us to focus on finding a favorable weather window for the three day passage down through the Caribbean Sea to the Bay Islands of Honduras.
Hasta la vista!