Trip Start Nov 24, 2006
6Trip End Nov 30, 2006
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This pretty little island is just a few miles off shore from Cancun and was named after its previous owner: the Mayan moon goddess - a woman. Population is less than 20,000 and as of 2005 there were 121 taxis, 500 golf carts, and 1500 moped scooters on the island :) Isla Mujeres has many beautiful coral reefs perfect for snorkeling and is home to a population of sea turtles. Cubans like to stop here on their way to the United States. Our hotel stay included a free trip, so how could we not go?
There's only one thing I would do different in retrospect. Do yourself a favor and put on your swim suit in the morning before you get on the bus. It gets very hectic once you arrive on the island. By the time I had my towel, locker and snorkel gear (you'll have to get in a different line for each) they were already doing a second call for the snorkelling tour and I was one of the last to get on the boat, though I can assure you I had wasted NO time. Not to mention there's no place to change, so I had to use the bathrooms. They had wet floors which felt a little gross.
It was about 09:00 am when the bus picked us up at our hotel and took us to the boat dock in Cancun. The ride took about half an hour. Once on the boat it took another 45 min to reach Isla Mujeres. During the ride the crew told us about programs we could choose from once we reach the island (there are charges for these additional activites):
~Tour around the island
~Swimming with dolphins (I'd prefer to see them swim in the ocean...)
Once on the island we had about 20 minutes to get ready before the boat left for the snorkeling tour we wanted to do ($20.00 per Person). Like I said before, it was all a little hectic, but still enjoyable. The boat ride that took us to the reef didn't take long at all. But the fact that we were now out in the middle of the ocean scared me a bit. Oh well no time to be scared - because I had to fight with the instructor. He really wanted me to spit in my goggles to prevent them from fogging up, which is great but GROSS! No way I was going to do that. Well, he had the last word: "If you're not going to spit in them then I'll spit in them for you." Given that choice I took my finger and mopped out my goggles with a little spit - vowing to feed the instructor to the first available shark. I don't even want to think about the fact that these goggles are re-used...
Once on the spot we started snorkeling, following our instructor and creating our own school of fish. The weather was rainy, but still nice and warm. All the running around before the trip had made me really thirsty and the fact of breathing the salty air through the snorkel time after time didn't help at all. The whole snorkeling tour took about 45min, but I was out of the water 15 minutes into the tour. I've never been sooo sea-sick. I didn't know you could get seasick while in the water, but all the motion just did it and I went back to the boat when I started to feel light headed. It was nice to see that I wasn't the only one that didn't make it. There were some others too, like the nice man that decided to swim in his tighty-whities... I was still bummed out though, because the snorkeling had been quite spectacular. We saw mantaray, schools of fish and colorful coral reefs in crystal clear water. That just reminded me: I have never seen a live coral reef. Wherever I've snorkeled before they were dead.
For you divers out there - you can visit the "Manchones" (=Cross of the Bay), which is a sunken cross with a mermaid carved out in the middle. The cross has been sunk as a tribute to all the men and women who died by the sea. I'm fascinated by sunken "objects". Totally unrelated, but I just looked for a video that showed diving on isla mujeres and I came accross this, isn't that beautfiul? You divers probably know all about bubble rings :)
Once back on the island it was about time for lunch (included) and they gave us two hours until we would meet at the dock before heading to the north end of the island. The ride was really beautiful, because the weather switched between rain and shine and whenever the sun came out again, everything around us just opened up in bright turquoise colors. Here's a picture I took while the boat was in a rainy patch, but the sun was shining above the island. Unfortunately I got a drop on my lense:
Probably one of my most favorite pictures I ever took. Upon arrival at the north end we had one hour to shop, which we started as a group. Our guides horded us into their preferred shops, which I didn't like at all. It felt very crowded and I want to shop freely. That quickly aggravated me so much that I quit shopping and went on a photo safari. Probably one of the better ideas I've had in a while and I love the pictures I took that day.
I've met so many nice people, for example I ran into an old man. You know this game, where you try to step out of someones way and they do the same and you both end up in each others way again? I did that a couple of times with him and then he burst into laughter and asked if we should just start to dance :) I saw beautifully painted houses, stray kittens, houses that were ruins and...
...the most amazing and breathtaking cemetary ever.
I took the next picture on Playa del Norte walking along the beach. This is my favorite picture, which made me forget all seasickness and grudge about the shopping push.
For the ride home they put on a hell of a show, where you'll just laugh yourself silly. They truly truly earned their tip!
I don't have any more good stories about Isla Mujeres. Intially I didn't want to go, because I heard many bad things about the trip included in our hotel stay: Activities cost extra, if you don't buy the extra activities you'll be bored out of your mind, stressful, shopping push.... And while all that was true it still was a very enjoyable experience and looking at back at my pictures I'm just grateful that I got to go!