Friday, September 7, 2012

Back in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Bahía Tortuga in Isla Mujeres - photo by owner Rhonda
Nan and I are back in Isla Mujeres, our tenth trip here in fourteen years. We arrived last Saturday and return home this coming Sunday. It is off-season here and there are few tourists. Many of the shops and restaurants are closed, but we appreciate the mostly empty beaches and the quiet streets. We have reconnected with our many friends here, both local people and expatriates, and have engaged them all in talk, sometimes in halting Spanish with much gesticulating, about what it is like to live here. Because we are planning to join them.

Starting next spring, Nan and I, along with some friends, plan to sail Whispering Jesse down here from Savannah and live on the boat for an indefinite period at one of the local marinas. We have spent time this week checking out all of the island's marinas and believe we have found the best one for our needs, El Milagro ( It is pet friendly, so Scout will be welcomed, and there are many nice amenities: a community kitchen, a movie theater, a small beach and a dipping pool. And it is easy walking distance to downtown. It is located on the bay instead of in the lagoon, so it is cooler and less buggy. But it is also more exposed, which means it would be necessary to move the boat to the safety of the lagoon in the event of a hurricane.

With Juan and Paula at their home in Miraflores, Isla MujeresIn addition to finding answers to our long list of questions, we have spent time exploring new places. On Sunday, we went to the newly opened Bahía Tortuga bar and restaurant, where our favorite Isla band, La Banda sin Nombre, was playing. Many of the patrons were expatriates we knew from past visits, including Doug Dorn, whom we met when we sailed to Isla from Panama with John Kretschmer in 2010 and stayed at Marina Paraiso in an adjacent slip. It was good to catch up with him as he was full of useful information about boating and bureaucracy.

We spent Tuesday afternoon with our friend Juan Gomez and his family at their home in the Miraflores colonia. We brought along dinner from the local pollo asado place and walked over to the local tienda with Juan to pick up some bottles of Sol beer. We ate and talked into the evening, and I was thankful I had my pocket English-Spanish dictionary to aid the communication. Juan's English is fairly good from his many years working with tourists, but his wife's is not so good and the kids are too shy to use the English they learn in school. By the time we left, I had agreed to tutor the kids in English and Nan had agreed to form an exercise group when we return next spring.

Baby sea turtles released in Isla Mujeres on September 5, 2012
On Wednesday evening, we joined over a thousand local people on Playa la Media Luna for the release of over six thousand baby sea turtles. It was an amazing sight to see them all instinctively flap across the sand toward the water to begin their new lives. We helped flip over some upside down turtles and turned around a few who were going the wrong way. Eventually, they were all in the water, their little heads popping up and looking around as if to ask, Now what? It was a heartwarming experience.

Last night, we invited Roger and Garnette over for dinner. They are American expatriates, whom we met about five years ago after they moved here from the Denver area. Nan made a delicious chicken salad and served it with cantaloupe, croissants and salad. We ate dinner and talked for hours out on the patio of our Color de Verano penthouse apartment, watching the sun set and listening to a band playing across the street. Roger and Garnette have already been through all the experiences that we would anticipate in getting settled here, everything from upgraded visas and health insurance to medical treatment and theft prevention. They are a valuable resource and we expect they will become close friends.

Baby sea turtles released on Playa la Media Luna
Our last two full days here will be action-packed. Nan and I are going on a boat trip with our friend Ariel this afternoon to investigate possible anchorages out in the bay, with the idea of saving money by anchoring out during high seasons when the marina rates go way up. Tomorrow, our friends Mike and Erika from back home are scheduled to make a side trip here from their vacation in Playa del Carmen. Mike will be joining us on the sailing trip next spring and I want to see what he thinks of the place where we'll be making our final landfall. More later...


Anonymous said...

Good to have run into you while on my run down the eastern Malecon. Hope it all works out for you in Isla Mujeres! Wasn't the turtle release amazing?!? -Dan (with the light and dark goldens, and you met my daughter at Lola's).

John Lichty said...

It was great to meet you too, Dan! Nan and I met your wife and son and saw Annika again when we stopped by El Milagro to show the marina to visiting friends who will help us sail down next May. The turtle release was really something. Nature in action! We hope to see you and your family again sometime. Safe travels!