Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter from Isla Mujeres!

Soggy Peso bar and restaurant on Isla MujeresLocally, it would be "¡Felices Pascuas!" As in the United States, Easter is not a huge holiday here in Mexico, but the people celebrate "Semana Santa," saints' week, all week long, culminating in a day-long fiesta on Easter Sunday. Nan and I were at the beach earlier in the day, but when an emcee and his "Corona girls" took to the stage that had been constructed for the celebration, and the patter and music became annoyingly loud, we retreated through the gathering crowd to our rented apartment at Color de Verano, just a half-block away. But even from that distance, the bass still rattled the windows, so we took a drive in our rented golf cart.

As we toodled down the main drag, around where the island narrows at the single-runway airport, we passed a sign for the Soggy Peso bar and restaurant. We had commented on the name during trips past, how similar it was to the Soggy Dollar's on Jost Van Dyke, in the British Virgin Islands. This time, we made a U-turn and stopped to check it out. What we found was a fairly typical beach bar, complete with palapa roof and souvenirs of past visits, in this case autographed baseball caps, but lacking an actual beach, being located near the mangrove-encrusted entrance to the island's lagoon, Laguna Macax. We sat at the corner nearest the water and ordered drinks. The owner, an American, came over and said hello. I thought, he's probably semi-retired and imagined it would be fun to create the Mexican version of a famous Caribbean bar. Believe it or not, the man sitting next to Nan in the photo above is actually wearing a Soggy Dollar tee shirt. So we are not alone in our thinking.

We finished our drinks and headed back down the road, destined for Chuuk Kay, our new favorite place on the island. Our friend Ariel, who runs fishing and snorkeling trips with his panga, had said he would be there with his clients in the afternoon for lunch, but we missed him. Instead, we found our Isla friends, Garnette and Roger, and our favorite Isla band, La Banda sin Nombre, The Band without a Name, there instead. We sat with Marla, band leader Xavier's American wife, and drank margaritas while listening to amazingly good classic rock and traditional Mexican songs. Marla joined the band to sing a few classics, including "Angel from Montgomery," one of our favorites.

Before the sun set, we drove out to Sac Bajo, at the far end of Isla Mujeres's natural harbor. On the ferry over from Cancun on Saturday, I had looked for the hurricane-devastated white house that is located there. I considered it my personal symbol of the island and fantasized about owning it one day, but I failed to see it. What we found there instead was a pile of rubble and an active construction site. The house has been torn down, and it appears that the owners are going to build a new house where it once stood. It made me sad to see it gone, but if you return to the same place often enough, and this is our ninth trip to Isla Mujeres in thirteen years, you are bound to see changes you wish you hadn't.

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