Monday, September 05, 2016

ISLA MUJERES (Mexico Part II)

Sooooooo. FINALLY! Isla Mujeres!
We have been back in the ATL for over a month now, but Isla is still fresh in my mind! What a trip!!
This is a LOOOOOOOOOONG post with picture overload (I should have made a video) so grab a cup of coffee and relax...this could take a while.
If you are following me on Insta, then you saw some sneak peaks of our adventure. But on the bloggy blog, the last thing I posted was all about Cancun and us boarding the ferry to Isla.
15 minutes later we stepped onto "the island of woman."
Isla Mujeres is 8 miles off the coast of Cancun with ferry boats running every hour. ($12)
We caught a 2pm ferry and came out on the main drag. My first thought - passing all of the shops and tourists whizzing by - was Oh no. A mini Cancun. No Wait! Actually this was my first thought....
HOT HUSBAND Michelada! Have you guys had one of these drinks? Oh my! So refreshing and so very Mexicano! I'm not sure EXACTLY what they put in it, (beer, Clamato juice, lime, hot sauce and maybe some Worcestershire??) but it is muy muy rico!! This stand is right outside the ferry dock...and they serve 'em BIG!
Ernesto is always the navigator on our trips, so I just followed him down the strip along the beach.
The road was very clogged with taxis, motorcycles and tourists on golf carts.
Besides that, the little cheesy tourist shops were one after the other. But as soon as you turn into the little streets it was the cute little Mexican town I was promised [by my friends Manuel and Lucia].
Talk about curb appeal. Isn't that river rock walk awesome?! The wood door and snake plants in the weathered pots? Yes!
And this one. Pink and Aqua! And how about this good 'ol combo of turquoise and white?! LOVE!
I could have a whole post of Mexican doors I love!
Cool doors and cool walls.
I don't think the mosaic wall was finished, but it is still cool. And check out this awesome mural!
Everything is so bold and colorful in Mexico-I just love it!
Since we were arriving on Isla, but didn't find an apartment ahead of time, Ernesto took the liberty of booking a hotel for a few nights online so we had a place to go right away. Smart man.
Chi-Chi's & Charlie's is located right on Playa Norte beach near the Centro of town. (North end of island)
It was a small hotel with 3 levels and all rooms facing out to the ocean. Although the above picture might lead one to believe it was on the modern side. It was not.
Seriously. This is the check-in desk guys.
Ha! So Mexico.
Yes the location was awesome, but I could not get over the the RUSTIC room. When I overheard Ernesto say he was pre-paying for a week, I had to step in.
"We can't stay in this room for 7 NIGHTS mi amor!!! Let's just do three and see what happens." We saw apartments for similar prices. Not right on the beach, but with a kitchen! A bedroom!
Mateo loved it though and he didn't even notice the difference from the Westin to Chi Chi's. Oh to be a kid again. What he did notice, and what eventually became "the silver lining," was this out our front door.
The water was gorgeous and as you can see, a popular hangout for many yachts.
Mateo also noticed there was an outdoor shower. (Which they used daily.) Fun stuff!
Don't get me wrong. I have stayed in this [type of] room 5 million times over the last 20 years. (Right mi amor? Joanne? Kate? Maureen? Lauren?) Bare bones. Beds, shower, toilet. Sand and beach right outside the door and a little casual open-air restaurant outside. I LOOOOOVE places like this.
The only difference between this and the others I have stayed in over the years? I have NEVER paid $100/per noche!!! What?? Oh! And also I never had 3 small kids in tow.
And I'll be damned...traveling with kids is "somthin' different."
It was a cool place, but it was smaaaaaaall for 5 people. Luckily the kids could step out to the front "yard" and play in the sand.
The kids made friends next door and ran around outside, but there was little to no hanging out in the room.
They were bouncing off the walls by 7 am and we had to get outside. We tried to stay out of the hotel until almost dark, when we knew they would immediately pass out. It worked every time.
This tactic also ensured we were out to see the beautiful sunsets...another benefit of sleeping feet from the ocean. The kids played until it was dark and we trekked "home" in one minute flat.
On the weekends, a local guy sets up a trampoline and a bunch of little bikes, cars and push toys for the kids in the Zocalo (town square). And [for a small fee] the boys were ALL over it.
Anything motorized fascinates them. They did a great job driving, but when it turned into bumper cars, which was a no-no, we had to call it quits.
They lasted about 10 minutes on the trampoline, but every minute counts. (Note to self: must get a trampoline!)
As you might expect, the food was delicious in Mexico! We ate some sort of seafood everyday. Some meals we enjoyed casual street food..... Bacon wrapped hot dog anyone?
The street corn (with mayo, lime, cheese and chile powder) has always been my favorite. I went out a couple nights to search this cart out.
Turns out there is more than one. Ha! Must . Eat. Corn.
Other times we sat down somewhere.
La Lomita. Ernesto actually found good online reviews for La Lomita, the first restaurant we visited.
The portions were HUGE, but really the best thing about this place was the decor and the cold beer served in FREEZING terra cotta cups.
I love the hand painted walls....and this little tanned mexicano....
We tried a lot of cute colorful places. (And we squeezed our big a$$ stroller everywhere!)
Baby girl ate whenever and wherever she pleased.
BEACH, BEER & BREASTFEEDING!! Multi-tasking is the name of the game when you are a mother.
Also isn't that visor the best?! Even big enough to shade my baby girl. The last one I had (also bought in Mexico) lasted several years! I wore it all Summer and people always ask where I bought it. $5 in Mexico. This one was $7 and still a darn good deal for such a sturdy handmade hat.
I wore it all day every day. Also. The braids. Essential when mixing long thin hair with salty ocean water and humidity. Dreadlocks can sneak up on you quick!
For 70 pesos (less than $7) this dear lady sprayed some potion on my hair to detangle it and braided two frenchies TIGHTLY. Like tight enough to make me wince. But those babies stayed in tight for 5 days! Talk about low maintenance!
On our first morning at Chi-Chi's we found a cute little restaurant called Rubens.
We devoured a traditional huevos rancheros breakfast outside in a little shady courtyard. The boys were playing with their muchachos (Imaginext figures) being their loud crazy selves...and this is when we got lucky.
There was a nice couple sitting at the table next to us. At one point I shook my head at her as to say 'please forgive my crazy kids.' They gave us a knowing glance and said "no the preocupes, tenemos cuatro hijos."(translation: don't worry, we have four kids)
That comment got the ball rolling and after chatting a bit we found out they own several properties around the island. THAT is serendipity! (we found out their kids are adults now! Ha) After our breakfast she offered to show us a two bedroom apartment.
We immediately loved it! It did not have a pool, which was one of our "must haves," but it did have the most character of any of the apartments we saw online. Soooooooo Mexican. Plus it was right in the middle of the action and just a short stroll to the beach. We LOVED it!
We also loved the owner too. Plain and simple. Pia was the friendliest, most genuine person. We were mistaken as family a couple different times. I think we have the same spirit, but we also look like we could be related right?
And her "story" is the best. She is Swiss and came to Isla Mujeres when she was 22 on vacation with a girlfriend....met her husband and never left. She raised 4 kids on the island and adapted to island life. Which included riding a scooter with all four kids (while breastfeeding one of them! Ha!). Coolest. Lady. Ever.
She took us around the island for several hours in her little van and was the BEST tour guide. We probably would've never seen this secluded beach complete with secret caves in Sac Bajo.
We still had a couple nights (pre-paid) at Chi-Chi's, so we told her we would get in touch with her in a few days. Despite not having a pool we just WANTED to rent from her because she was such a wonderful person!
BUT after staying in that little hotel room with our crazy energetic boys for 3 nights, we were actually ready to pack up and leave. We decided we would just stay another couple nights at the Westin in Cancun and fly home. Yes, we were giving up! It was tough!! Keeping the boys occupied and under control, making sure baby girl got to sleep even a little during the day, while going out to eat every meal WORE. US. DOWN.
The boys had been begging us for Lucha Libre masks that we passed in all the shops everyday. We promised they couple pick a couple out before we left, but in the end they picked these Superman/Spiderman capes.
HOW they wore those in that HEAT is beyond me. Their LOVE of superheroes is that strong. We packed up everything up and started walking to the dock for the 130pm ferry.
We were almost there when I got a text from Pia saying that her two bedroom was still available for the week. Ernesto and I looked at eachother and said. What the heck!? Let's go!! We made a left off the main drag.....
And looked for the huge tree at the entrance of Sol Dorado.
30 minutes later we were all breathing easier in our new SPACIOUS apartment.
We walked to the grocery store and stocked up for the week. We made a delicious dinner that evening and took a short stroll for gelato afterwards. Yes yes yes! This is what my plan was all along. LIVING in Mexico not visiting! (Just like Airbnb says in the commercial)
We really did LIVE in Mexico. Just like at home, our mornings were full of cartoons and a drawn out breakfasts. The big difference though - all cartoons in Spanish and not once did they say they wanted English. They just knew Mexico = Spanish.
I mean these guys were so comfortable here that one morning I walked into the bathroom and saw this!!!
WHAT? I had to call Ernesto in and take a picture! Ha! He actually has never done this at home, but I guess like father like son?!?!!
Baby girl crawled all around the CLEAN Saltillo tiles and slept like a baby!
I kept doing a happy dance and Ernesto said "I am so glad we didn't leave." It was just perfect and relaxed.
The apartment was right around the corner from Avenida Hidalgo, the main pedestrian street in the Centro where you will find boutique hotels, restaurants and tons of shops filled with Mexican art, textiles, pottery, blankets, etc,
I am a sucker for these embroidered works of art by Otomi Indians. I probably didn't get "the best deal" on these (because I was in a touristy area) but I still felt like it was well worth the money, considering the amount of time spent to complete one piece (all by hand of course!).
You may have seen this picture on Instagram too...
It is from an awesome place called Zama. We played here a couple different days during the week. Lounging, swimming and eating. Since our apartment didn't have a pool, we came here to switch it up from the beach. Zama is an open-air beach club/restaurant/lounge with 3 big swimming pools right on the ocean (obviously)
We camped out all day on the comfortable lounge chairs and dipped in the shallow pools...
And jumped in the deep pool...
Nothing wears kids out more than sun & swim, right parents??
It was HOT HOT HOT too so you wanted to be in the water pretty much the whole time. If you weren't, you were sweating like a dog. Paloma fell asleep while nursing and she was drenched. Look at her hair.
That is sweat! And Marcelo was sweating this much while sleeping. Not moving a muscle!
At one point all three kids were sleeping and Ernesto and I thought we had died and gone to heaven.
Our whole trip to Mexico was "planned" with the idea that the boys would be doing a Summer camp or something similar to practice their Spanish. Well, with nothing planned ahead of time, we left in to serendipity (again!) and what do you know...something presented itself!
We were introduced to a woman who does a Summer art camp for a few hours each afternoon. Perfect! There were about 10 kids and of course it was all in Spanish.
We dropped them off one day and we took Paloma to Play Tiburon.
We were expecting great seafood. Can you guess what we ordered? Yep! Ceviche AGAIN! ...and it was RICOOOOOOOO!!! Boat loads of tourists are brought to Isla from Cancun to spend the day, and Playa Tiburon is one of the stops. The place was crowded, but that didn't bother us. With our table/toes right in the sand and chasing the ceviche with a cold beer, we thought it was perfect!
Alone time with this little Bebe is never a bad thing!
While over on the Sac Bajo side of the island we visited the GranjaTortuguero (turtle farm) and the boys were quite interested.

They saw kids holding turtles and wanted to do the same. They were a little hesitant when I handed the turtles over.

Their faces crack me up. They were a little jumpy at the slightest movement of the turtles while holding them. About two seconds after this picture, Mateo drop his turtle. Pobrecito! Well, that is one reason they have that hard shell right? He seemed fine as he scurried away...as turtles do.

Our last day on the island we spent lounging here.....

Oceanvs was awesome. Right on the beach with waiters attending to you all day. Ceviche please!!!!

We figured that since we were leaving Isla Mujeres and HAD to pass the Westin hotel to get to the airport, we might as well stay another couple nights. It was such a great spot.

This visit our room faced the lagoon side instead of the ocean, but it was still a gorgeous view!

We walked down the beach to a rocky area and the boys filled up a cup with snails and crabs that were hanging out on the rocks.
That was fun, but I recommended setting them free a couple hours later. The boys were adamant about letting them stay overnight in our hotel and we would let them go before leaving in the morning. Well, notice the before and after pictures.....
ESCAPED. They were ALL OVER the balcony. The boys couldn't believe it.
We left them for the maid. So bad I know.

That made me laugh writing that. Good memories! Oh Mexico! Until we meet again!

(Next year-for a more "well-planned" trip! Yeah right!! )

 

1 comment:

Hola!
I enjoy reading your comments. Thanks for stopping by Viva Cindy!

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