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Isla – dia seis

Okay, so I got mixed up on my days.  Yesterday should have been dia cinco, so I’ve change that day, and today is day six.  Sheesh, when you’re not working, you lose all sense of time.  Which is a damn good thing in my humble opinion. 

The last two days have been pretty lazy, but that’s what happens when you’re on Mexico time.  I’ve read a whole book just in the last day and a half.  It normally takes me weeks to get through a book because I mainly just read on my lunch hour if I’m not going out with friends.  Now I feel like I have all the time in the world which takes some getting used to.  When you’re used to doing something all the time, it’s hard to just sit back and relax.  But I’m trying my best.  By the time I get the hang of it, it will be time to go back to work.  *sigh*

This morning’s breakfast was at the Bistro Francais.


Here’s my view to the left.  The guy on the bike is selling newspapers.


And to the right…


And here’s breakfast.  It was okay…the prices are pretty reasonable.


Then a walk to work off breakfast.  (It doesn’t take much in this heat.)  Hemingway’s is still going strong…they were hopping when I walked by one evening.


I think the Hotel El Caracol has changed colors every time I’ve been there.  It’s always vibrant…no pastels or earth tones on this baby.


I was sorry to see that Manana is closed.  I liked going there for breakfast every once in awhile.  I like how they painted the “For Sale” sign on the side of the building to match the decor.  Very tasteful.  I hope someone can make a go of it there.


I took a picture of this structure on my first trip to Isla back in 2006.  (It was a much better picture than this.)  I can’t believe it’s still there…and I also wonder what those empty windows looked in on and what the original structure looked like.  Just curious.


Just some more colorful places around town…



I normally don’t like bars on windows, but if you have to have them, this is what they should look like. 


This must be like a “to go” version of the Rooster Restaurant?  It’s on Carlos Lazo…


Along with this place.  Is it a new bar?


Since I was there at the hostel, I walked out to the east side of the island to see if I could find any sea glass.  This side is much rockier and is not a good swimming beach.


This fellow was keeping an eye on me.


I have found pieces of sea glass in this area before, but not one single piece could be found today.  It’s kind of amazing how different one side of an island can be from the other.  This side has much courser sand and when you step into where the water meets the shore, you sink down about six inches.  That doesn’t happen where the sand is soft and white. 


Back up to the malecon…which is pretty much deserted, which is so sad because it’s such a beautiful view.


I happened to find a photo that I had taken after all the “improvements” were made several years ago with all the new benches.  What a shame that they are all gone and there’s nowhere to sit other than on the ledge.  And why did they face them towards the town instead of towards the sea?  That never made any sense to me.



Much further down the malecon, you can see the backsides of the houses that I posted on the fourth day…a couple of which were for sale.  The thing about this area is that there are nice, new houses that are right next to old houses that have probably been owned by families for years there which may never be sold.  Besides that, they are on such a small plot of land, that there is no room to put in a pool.  Since you can’t swim on this side of the island, if I were going to buy a home there, I would definitely want at least a dipping pool considering the heat of the summers. You never know why they’re for sale. 


Like this one.  Yes, it has a nice view of the sea, but there’s a very small patio and no green space.  Plus you have the disadvantage of having tourists, residents and golf carts traveling back and forth behind your house. 


Interesting paint job on this one…


Here’s something you might be able to get pretty cheap.


And this is what it looks out onto.  I’d be curious to know how much they’re renting it for.


On a side note, when I fell and broke my wrist a few months ago, I became very paranoid about where I walked.  I would nervously watch the ground and look for any signs of twigs, sand, rocks, etc., so that I wouldn’t accidentally slip on anything.  After a couple of months, I kind of relaxed about it, but now that I’m down here, I’m back to being paranoid.  Isla has probably the worst sidewalks I’ve ever walked on and I spend most of my time looking down when I’m walking around town.  I’ll admit that I’ve tripped or stubbed a toe a time or two here on previous trips while obliviously taking pictures, but not this time!  No, sirree…no more broken wrists for this gal.  Here’s my proof…





Isla – dia cinco

Not a long post this time.  I didn’t feel like doing much today, so it was a reading day.  I’ll start with last night’s dinner at Bally Hoo.  I love sitting there in the evening because of the breeze and it’s a nice place to work on my blog.  The fish tacos were good…they make their slaw like me…oil and vinegar with no mayo.


It’s also an entertaining place to sit because of all the activity.  A boat came back with some lucky fishermen.


And this young woman threw a net into the water and pulled it back up with a bunch of little fish, much to the enjoyment of the little boy with her.  They put them into a bucket of water…guess they’re using them for bait.


A night shot of the boats.  Doesn’t that look like a cat in the far boat?


Here are just some random shots.  I thought about renting this on my golf cart day, but think I’ll pass.


Massages on the beach…not for me, though.


Here’s the front of JAX.  They really are doing a redecorating job on it…not nearly as colorful as it used to be.  And they painted the sculpture gold since I was last there.


Here’s the Privilege Aluxes…a newer hotel on the island.  I stayed their once because I got a great deal.  The rooms really are nice and comfortable, but you pay for it.  The restaurant had a lot to be desired when I stayed there.  Hopefully, they’ve improved, but I don’t think I’d bother to go there again.  I never see anyone eating there.


Pretty Oleanders…


Colorful house…


A peek into the cemetery…


Pretty Bougainvillea…


Today’s breakfast at Compadre’s.  (Didn’t this use to be Bucanero’s?  It’s right across from Rolandi’s.)


Well, I found out where all the seaweed is.  It’s all at the far end of Playa Norte.  Ugh…it was pretty smelly, too.


Here I’m standing at the corner of what used to be Zazil Ha.  (Not sure what it is now.)  When I first came to Isla back in 2006, the water was all the way up to this corner.  It’s strange how the beach can change so drastically.


Here I am in the water looking back at where I was standing in the last picture.


As you walk up Playa Norte, the seaweed gradually disappears and you’re left with the beautiful views of the sea.



Are these barnacles??


I washed out some clothes this evening and didn’t feel like going out for dinner so I just got a hamburger at Bobo’s Grill.


It was pretty darn good!  Good prices, too!


Isla – día cuatro

This is going to be a long post.  Since I was so lax in my last post, I felt I needed to make up for it.  For those of you “Islaholics” who are ex-pats or frequent visitors of the island, you’ll probably be bored.  You’ve seen these scenes many times, but I want to show my friends at home what it’s like to be on Isla.

First of all, here’s a map of the island.  The downtown (el centro) area is in the triangle area at the top of the map.  That’s where most of the tourists go and it’s where most of the restaurants and hotels are located.  There are resorts and hotels located on the rest of the island…as well as privately owned homes that are available for rent throughout the island.  You can get pretty much whatever you want ranging from a basic apartment like I have for only $35 per night…up to a luxury resort room for hundreds of dollars per night.


Since I’ve been sharing my breakfast each day, I’ll include today, too.  I went to Bally Hoo, again, because of the pleasant breeze.  Just a light one today…didn’t feel like eggs.


So then I felt the need to trek around town to take pictures to show people who have never been here.  It’s definitely a Mexican town, and there’s no resort feel.  They do have resorts here, and I will show you those places when I rent a golf cart to zip around the island, but they are not evident in the downtown area…with maybe the exception of Ixchel and Privilege Aluxes.  But you definitely feel a Mexican influence with many Mexican residents living among all the hotels.  Basically, what it comes down to is that if you go to resorts along the Yucatan coast, the only Mexicans you’ll see are the ones who serve your meals and clean your rooms.  The Mexicans you see on isla are the ones who live here and work here.  That’s what makes it different from other tourist areas.  And that’s why I like it.  It makes you remember that this is Mexico…it is not just another touristy place with a bunch of chain restaurants and hotels that you can find anywhere in the United States.

Okay..enough with my rant.  Here is Isla Mujeres.  This is the main governmental office on the island.  I swear this place has been painted or renovated almost every single time I’ve been here since 2006.


And here is the main church in town.  Looks like they’re putting in a new stairway.  I don’t know what they’re going to do with the fountain that they’ve obviously dismantled.  It was a good idea, but they obviously didn’t take the wind into consideration.


Here’s the basketball court on the zocalo…


Here’s the parking lot next to the zocalo.  Obviously, scooters are the mode of transportation on the island.


Okay, so here’s where I’m just going to start posting pictures of stuff around the island with some brief comments.

Here’s one available for rent…I’d like to see the inside.






I think I need to rent this when I rent a golf cart…



A new place…











Here are some places for sale if anyone is interested…






I’m kind of confused on this one.  Is the space between these two homes for sale (which isn’t very much)?


Or is the home included with the space??


Rescue boats…


Creative way to camouflage the meters in the cat’s eyes.


Every time I’ve been on Isla, the woodwork on this door has been perfect.  The salt and humidity is so damaging to wood, but they keep it in excellent condition.


New ferry digs?


New gift shop…


Lots of purses…


And lots of jewelry…


Cutting coconuts for exotic drinks…


Real people on the island…




Isla…dia tres…

Okay, so I know I’m a bit behind on the posting.  Please cut me some slack…after all, I’m in paradise.  Besides that, I’m starting to adapt to island life where everything runs much more slowly.  It’s something I could easily get used to.

So, yesterday, I had breakfast at La Cazuela M&J.  They’re noted for their cazuelas which are various versions of an egg dish cooked and served in a small cast iron skillet.  They are very good, but they’re BIG and much more than I have an appetite for in the morning.


I opted for the Huevos Maya, which was a perfect size.  I posted this on Facebook with the comment that the thing that looks like a cornbread muffin is actually a little pile of potatoes.  Wanda replied, “Mashbrowns! Love them!” Haha!  That’s exactly what they are…potatoes mashed into a little square.  Thanks, Wanda.


M&J’s is a really cute little place and is only open for breakfast and lunch…no dinner.


Remember when they used to be located outside the Roca Mar Hotel?  It was hot sitting out in the morning sun there eating hot cazuelas! Even though you don’t get a view of the sea while eating at their new location, it’s a much nicer place now.


Speaking of their old location, this is what is there now.


And this is where I was for three hours today getting my hair highlighted.  I kid you not…three hours.  She did an absolutely wonderful job and I just love the color.  Here was my view from the chair.


And here are the results.  I guess I’ll have to come back in six months for a touch up.


I needed some libation after this, so I stopped by Picus to get my shrimp cocktail and a cold one.


The Mexican ladies at the table next to me were feeding the seagulls with their leftovers so I joined in.  (Are these seagulls?  I’m not really sure.) These guys can really get scrappy with one another when food is involved.


Then another quick walk down the beach.  There is virtually no seaweed on the island.  I don’t know whether they remove it in the early hours of the morning, or whether they just don’t have a problem with it.  The beach at Puerto Morelos just down the coast always has a lot of seaweed.



Dinner was at a place I’d never tried before.


Spinach and cheese ravioli.  It was okay.  The prices were really high, but I’m finding that all the prices have gone way up since in the last time I was here.  No more dollar beers, that’s for sure.


Okay, so I know this was somewhat of a lame post, so I’ll have to get on the ball.  I’m leaving right now to get some pics of the town so I don’t get fired from my blogging job.  See you later!

Isla…Day Two…

I woke up at 6:40 a.m. this morning because it was like there was a million lights in my room.  The window treatments are definitely not designed for late sleepers, so I knew I wasn’t going to win that fight.  That’s okay.  I like waking up on the island and hearing all the sounds.  Waking up on Isla is not like waking up on a resort.  Isla Mujeres is mostly populated by residents who live and work there every day.  This is not a resort to them…it is where they live.  So at 7:00 this morning, they are bustling through the streets on their scooters on their way to work…


And their kids go to school right around the corner.


This is the gentleman who lives across the street from my hotel.


I remember him from my first visit to Isla back in 2006.  Here he is then…


I’m glad he’s still there.

This is also across the street.  While it might not be in the tidiest of conditions, I am in awe of the concrete swan work.  I think it’s somewhat amazing that Mexican homes are adorned with these special decorations. I, for one, would love to have some swan work on my front porch. 


I went for a walk along the beach first thing this morning…beautiful.  I will have to say it seems strange not to have Sergio’s at the corner of the beach now, though. 


Here’s another little house that’s been updated…



Here is another one of my favorites…although I don’t like the current color. 


I liked this house so much before when it was aqua…


And had this little girl looking out the window…


I liked it so much, I even made a stained glass piece from it which I still have hanging in my window…


Oh, well…everything changes. 

After my walk, I went to Alexia & Geovanny’s to have breakfast…


And, of course, I had to have the Huevos Motulenos for my first breakfast…


Then I walked around town a bit to see what had changed.  Obviously, they’ve done away with the fountain in the Zocalo since I’ve been there.  Whatever happened with that??


They’re building some new things along the malecon…



And re-doing some things…


Considering they face this view, you would think they’d have a good future. 


But I went walking along the malecon, and there are definitely issues.  They put these benches up about four years ago, and look where they are today.  This is the only one left…the other ones have obviously been removed due to the wear and tear from the weather.


Continuing the walk along the malecon…the old hotel (I can’t remember the name) has been torn down.  There’s no indication that anything is replacing it.


And just a blank space where no vegetation is growing and it just looks pretty bland.  I guess I don’t understand why they can’t do something along the malecon which would make it aesthetically attractive while considering the elements of the weather.  They keep changing it, but it doesn’t get any better.  Who am I to know? 


Here is a sign about protecting the tortoises…along the background of condos that have been deserted for years.


I went to the beach today and it was pretty much deserted.



On a positive note, I went to Bally Hoo for dinner.  It is truly a great place to relax because the breezes are great and you just don’t feel the heat.  Here were my views…



Tomorrow is my pamper day.  I’m getting my hair highlighted.  Sweet. 

Day One on Isla…

Let me just start out by saying, “It’s freaking HOT down here!!”  I looked on before I left and it showed showers for the next ten days with temps in the mid to lower 80’s.  NOT!  I don’t know what the actual temperature was, but I was sweating bullets and my hair looks like something from the Bride of Frankenstein.  (I am not posting a selfie, by the way.) 

It’s been almost two years since I did a Mexico post on my blog, so I am WAY out of practice.  I forgot how much work they are between taking all the photos, editing the photos, and coming up with something whimsical or thought-provoking to say.  My main objective for the posts on Isla this time is to show friends I work with where I go, how I go, and what I do when I’m there.  This first post will be a very basic “how I get to Isla” description, so it’s not going to be very whimsical or thought-provoking.  Besides that, it usually takes me 2-3 days to get my “Mexico legs” and come up with an idea of what I want to do.  I’m still on day one, so bear with me. 

I had the luxury of a non-stop flight this time.  It really IS a luxury.  My son downloaded the movie “Gravity” on my laptop and the length of the movie worked exactly with the time I could use my computer on the plane, so the time just whizzed by.  Got off the plane and went through immigration pretty quickly.  I have been through this where the lines go all the way back to the far wall. 


And the luggage area was pretty empty. 


I breezed through customs, too, and got the green light.  I wanted to take a picture of the “green light,” but they always rush you through that, so I didn’t want to slow things down.  I have never gotten the red light.  Although now that I’ve said that, I’m sure I’ll get it next time.

Out to the ground transportation where they wait like hawks to get your business and throw a bunch of additional services like tours and whatnot to your agenda.  I went with Best Day, as usual, because they’re inexpensive ($26 round trip from the airport to/from the ferry) and reliable.  I’ve never had to go through the Hotel Zone and I’ve often been the only passenger in the van.  The only time I’ve had drop-offs before me was when I scheduled trips to Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen.


Outside refreshment station.



It’s a 30-minute drive from the airport to the ferry.  It’s a very industrial area with a lot of car dealerships, offices, Sam’s Club and other businesses.  As you get closer to the ferry, they’re building a bunch of highrise apartments or condos.  I wonder how much they’re going for.



But you also see the typical little Mexican houses along the way, as well.


It’s always a welcoming sight to see the Gran Puerto lighthouse.


And then when you walk through the breezeway, you can smell the salty air and that beautiful blue sea welcomes you.


And then you’re saying ‘goodbye’ to the Gran Puerto lighthouse.


As I’ve said to many people, the blue of the Caribbean is just mesmerizing.  I don’t think you can ever get used to it.




They had a guy singing on this one.  I would prefer just listening to the waves crashing in on the side of the boat, but I think this has probably become a standard thing.


Since I just had a lame breakfast taco at the San Antonio airport, I was really hungry for some lunch.  Picus is always my first choice because I like to get my toes in the sand, but they weren’t open.  What?!?  Are they on vacation or something?  Anyway, I went to Minino’s, instead, and still got the toes in the sand opportunity.


Isn’t it amazing how clear the water is?


Here’s the restaurant…


And here’s my fish filet with garlic sauce. 


The brothers are still the entertainment there.  They seemed a tad out of tune this time…just saying.


I went back to the room to do a little organizing, but then went to Jax to check e-mails and make sure there wasn’t any fires at work.  Jax is owned by a couple from Texas.  I noticed they had redecorated the place since the last time I was there.  I saw this on the wall and had to take a picture because everyone at home will recognize Gruene Hall.


This is the view from Jax…


I posted the photo below on Facebook, but will share it here, as well.  This is how my first day ended.  I’ve never been to this restaurant before and now I can’t for the life of me remember the name.  I liked the fact that they had the beach chairs.  When I sat down, the manager or owner said, “You’ve been to Isla Mujeres before.”  I don’t know how he knew that, but I said that I had been here quite a few times.  He asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to.  I told him, “Anything Mexican.”  (I don’t like it when I hear American music in restaurants in Mexico…I hear that every day at home.)  Anyway, I thought that was cool.  When I go to, like, Chile’s or Pluckers, they never ask me what kind of music I want to hear. 


I will have to work on pepping the blog up a notch with future posts.  But, hey…I have another 13 days to accomplish that!

Where I’m Bound

First of all, thanks, Gil, for your suggestions. 

I’ve decided where I’m going for my trip.  This hasn’t been the best year so far.  In January, I had oral surgery to have a wisdom tooth pulled.


In February, I caught the stomach virus that was going around town.


So, just before spring break, I checked airline fares and schedules and found a NON-STOP flight from San Antonio to Cancun for $419.  Sweet.  I booked it on Friday night before spring break.  Then I decided I needed to crank up my exercise schedule in order to lose a few pounds before I got to Mexico.  I went out Saturday morning on a power walk and BAM…I tripped over some vines in a grassy area because I was walking so fast and broke my wrist.


Just a little word of advice…don’t break your wrist.  It is not an enjoyable experience.  Mine was so bad, I had to have surgery to the tune of about $35,000.  That was one expensive walk.  Between a plate and some pins…and some physical therapy…I could think of about a million things I would rather have been doing in the past two months. 

So, on that note, I will be returning to Isla Mujeres in June.  After all my drama, I just want to relax, take in some sun, good food, and a few cervezas and margaritas.  I will not be climbing any ruins on this run.  My only adventure will be a several day trip to Cozumel since I’ve never been there and would like to see it. 

I’m also thinking of swimming with the whale sharks for the first time.  Considering my luck so far this year, I’m just hoping I won’t be the first tourist eaten by one.

Where to now?

So I’m booked for June for two weeks. My flight goes to Cancun, but I know I don’t want to stay there. I’d welcome any suggestions as to where else to go in the Yucatan. Anywhere I haven’t been to that someone can recommend? Something a little different? Let me know.

Recycling treasures from the sea…

When I go to Isla Mujeres, I always do some hunting for interesting shells and sea glass.  I didn’t find anything interesting in Puerto Morelos or Tulum this time, but I didn’t really do any serious searching anyway.  But when I got to Akumal, I found something that I had never found before on beaches…but then again, I had never really looked for it before.  I was walking around the beach on Half Moon Bay after Hurricane Ernesto hit, and found the remains of what is called Sea Fan Coral.  Here’s a photo from the internet of what it looks like in the sea:

I thought to myself, “Geez, there’s something you should be able to do with these…I should take some home.”  So I did.  They come in all shapes and sizes, but I will tell you right now that one of the worst things about collecting these is that THEY SMELL HORRIBLE!!  I got a big collection of them and laid them out on the little space outside the front doorway in the condo where I was staying so that they could dry out.  Every time I passed by them, I almost gagged from the odor that came from these once-living specimens. When it was time to go home, I wrapped them in three plastic shopping bags, so that the smell wouldn’t get all over my clothes in the suitcase.  I could still smell them a little when I opened the suitcase at home, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.  I was hoping that customs wouldn’t suspect there might be a dead body inside my suitcase if the smell happened to get out.  So when I got home, I just tossed them out on my back patio and didn’t think about them for several weeks hoping that the hot Texas sun would dry them out and reduce the smell.  After about three weeks, they were pretty much odor-less.  (Thank God.)

So last week, I started wondering what I could do with these, and I just started playing around with one and came up with this.  I painted the coral a metallic turquoise and left the base natural and just put a polyurethane coat on it.  It’s kind of unique on its own as a display of interesting sea life…

But then it occurred to me that it could do double-duty as an earring holder!  Sweet!!

Let’s see what else I can come up with.  Stay tuned.

Final post on this trip…

Sorry about my lateness in reporting my full day in Akumal.  It started out pretty cloudy on my morning walk on the beach.

Here’s a fixer-upper right in the middle of Half Moon Bay.  It has potential.  I wouldn’t turn it down if someone gave it to me.

As I walked, it got cloudier…

And cloudier…

…as Hurricane Ernesto made his approach.  It poured for about 15 minutes and I thought that was going to be it, but it stopped and some blue sky came out so I thought we had been given a reprieve.  I grabbed my bike and pedaled into town with camera in hand hoping the worst had passed.  I got into town long enough to take a few pictures.  Aren’t these flowers pretty?

I grabbed a quick lunch of fish tacos at La Cueva del Pescador.  They were very good…

Then I went for a walk along Akumal Bay.  They were bringing boats in in preparation for the storm.

Definitely not a one-person job.  I think the woman in the orange bikini must have been supervising.  (Or not…ha!)

Here’s the last picture taken by my Canon G12.  (HEAVY SIGH)  See the big waves and sea spray?  That was just the beginning.  As the clouds began to reform, I headed back to the bike to pedal home only to have my camera and me drenched by the torrential downfall along the way.  I survived…my camera didn’t.

So, now…the question of the day.  What did I think of my trip?  Hmmm…it wasn’t my best.  Like I’ve said before, it was too disjointed and I did too much jumping around.  As a result, I never felt a connection with any of my destinations.  I’ve learned that you need to stay in one place for a matter of days before you can feel comfortable and at home there.  I’ll go through my stops one by one.

Puerto Morelos:  I’ve been here a couple of times before and already knew there’s not that much to do and didn’t want to spend much time there.  But it’s a convenient short stop from the airport..  The hotel I chose was okay, but I wouldn’t want to spend a long time there. There were some negative changes to the town this time, so I didn’t even entertain the thought of staying there longer.

Playa del Carmen:  Like I said on my post the night I stayed there, I’m not a PDC kind of gal because it’s too commercial and glitzy.  But I absolutely loved the hotel I stayed at there.  The Hotel Lunata was really comfortable and cozy.  The bed was soft, it had a very Mexican feel and I could have comfortably stayed there for a year or two…seriously. I did not want to leave.

Tulum:  I would never stay at the Secret Garden again…it was almost oppressive with a closed-in feeling and lack of sunlight.  I was disappointed in the town because it was right on the highway and didn’t really have the charm or history that the towns more inland have to offer.  The restaurant prices were much higher than I thought they were going to be and they just weren’t that great.  Getting to the beach involves cab fares and the beach area is confusing to someone who is not staying on the beach.  Since the town is so separate from the beach area, it’s just an inconvenience if you’re staying in one place and want to get to the other.

Akumal:  This was probably the most disappointing place I stayed on this trip.  I’ve been briefly through it twice before but have never stayed overnight here.  Both previous times, I wasn’t impressed, but when I was deciding where to go after Tulum on this trip, I thought maybe I hadn’t given Akumal enough attention.  It turns out I had.  There just isn’t that much to do in Akumal.  There is a small town area where there are some souvenir shops, a convenience store and some restaurants.  It takes no more than about 15 minutes to see all of this.  The restaurants are very pricey and are just okay…nothing over the top.  There are little convenience stores along the road to all the condos and homes along the coast which are very expensive and don’t offer much of a variety.  After being there for a few days, I learned that it’s a place where families and/or couples go for some quiet time.  This definitely isn’t a party town or a place where people going solo can meet other solo travelers.  I felt kind of isolated here and that wasn’t because of Hurricane Ernesto.  I would never go back to Akumal on my own.  And if I DID go back, it would only be with a family member or someone I wanted to spend some quiet, close time with.  Even then, I would probably opt for another Mexican location.  It’s just kind of boring after one day if you’re looking for other things to do.  I would definitely recommend that you rent a car if you stay here so that you can go to other locations like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Coba, Puerto Aventuras, Xcaret, etc.  They offer water activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, etc., so if you’re not into these, Akumal doesn’t offer much other than relaxation.  One big thing I didn’t like about Half Moon Bay is that the beach is nothing but dead coral.  It is difficult to swim in this bay because the sea floor is covered with the coral so you can’t get any kind of footing.  It’s best if you have some water shoes because you don’t know what you’re stepping on out there.  I waded out once and had a hard time coming back on to the beach because the coral was slippery and I couldn’t stand up.  Akumal Bay is much better and more swimmer-friendly, but if you’re staying at Half Moon Bay, you have to commute to Akumal Bay.

Highlights of the trip were definitely my trek to the top of the ruins at Coba and the sea turtle release in Akumal.  These made up for all the downsides of the other events.  I won’t be going back to these locations in the near future, but I’m still glad I went.  Now it’s just on to the next adventures.

On to Akumal…

Not being really happy with Tulum, I decided on a whim to head up to Akumal and made last-minute arrangements on-line the day before I got there.  I’ve been through Akumal briefly a couple of times, but have never stayed there.  I already did a post about the condo, but I’ll reiterate that it really was a very comfortable place and it was nice having a kitchen.

There were two things that were just a little disappointing.  There was no cable TV…they had a TV and a DVD player…but it wasn’t hooked up to cable.  When the website said there was a TV, I automatically thought it meant they had cable, so that was my error.  On the other hand, the internet connection was excellent so that made up for it.  The other thing I missed is that it didn’t have any kind of outdoor balcony.  It had a nice big window that looked out to the sea between the two neighboring condos, but it would have been nice to be able to sit outside.  Nonetheless, it was a great place and I would highly recommend it.  The maintenance staff was incredibly efficient and everything was very clean and well-kept.  It was $75US per night.  There were three women from the rental website who were extremely helpful and friendly, and offered ideas of things to see in the area.  They also communicated with me before Hurricane Ernesto struck, informing me that if it became serious, they would find accommodations in Valladolid.  That was very reassuring.  Thank you, Lisa, Jill and Toni!

One thing they told me was there there was a little cenote just across the street from the condo.  How cool is that?

While it may not be one of the cenotes that people drive miles to see, it’s still interesting to find out that there are so many all over the Yucatan.  See the big fish?

The plants really flourish down here.  The Hibiscus bushes are huge…much bigger than my little potted ones in Texas.

I went into town and needed something from the little store.  I think it’s funny that you can buy eggs by the egg in Mexico..ha!  “I’ll take one egg, please.”

Even though Ernesto wasn’t due for another day, the winds were starting to kick up and dark clouds were appearing on the horizon, so there weren’t a whole lot of people in the water.

I stopped at Lol Ha for lunch and had a cold one while I waited for my meal.  I wish I could always have this view for lunch…

This time, I had a scallop po’ boy.  I LOVE po’ boys, so I was really excited about this since I had never seen one before on a Mexican menu.  Here we go…

It was excellent.  The corn meal breading was perfect and the sauce was very authentic.  Definitely a thumbs up.

So when I left Lol Ha, I passed by a real estate office and took some pictures of the ads in the window.  Kind of interesting to see the large range of prices for places in Akumal.

I could see myself living here…

You own this place for one week for $14,000???  Seriously?  Who would do that?  That seems crazy to me even if you have money to throw away.  Unless I’m misunderstanding this, I could think of about a million other things to spend $14,000 on.

Way more reasonable…

I was surprised to see my condo was for sale.  I like it, but I don’t know if I’d pay that for it.

And MUCH more reasonable.  Hmmm…wonder what it looks like inside.

Obligatory toes in Akumal sand photo…

Beach shot before Ernesto came calling…

And my cochonito pibil at La Buena Vida which is a restaurant on Half Moon Bay.  Very good.

One more post to come on Akumal before the death of my camera.

Tulum…Chapter Three

This will be my final post on Tulum…and this will be on the “other” Tulum.  Here’s a Google shot of the area.  You can see that the beach is quite a distance away from the actual town of Tulum and as I said before, you definitely can’t walk it.  You have to drive down Highway 109 which then runs along the coast.

On my first day there, I took a cab down to the area thinking that I could walk along the coast where there would be a lot of restaurants and hotels.  Well, there are a lot of restaurants and hotels, but it’s not a “walking” kind of area.  It’s the kind of place where you make arrangements where you’re going to stay and that’s pretty much where you’re going to stay unless you’ve rented a car.  The road that runs along the coast is not walker friendly, it’s narrow, and busy with cars, cabs and delivery trucks.  There are no sidewalks and you feel quite exposed to the traffic if you’re walking along the road.

There are public beaches along the coastline and lots of vehicles just stop alongside the road which can cause some delays.  The hotels are on each side of the highway and are secluded so that you really can’t see what they look like unless you actually walk up and see them personally.  Since the cab had dropped me off, I just walked down the road and decided to stop for a margarita.  This was the view…

There was a nice little bay off to the side…

A nice view but the place was pretty much empty.

I ended up catching a cab and going back pretty quickly because I could see real soon that this wasn’t a place where you could leisurely walk around and enjoy the sights.

When I rented the car to go to Coba, I initially was going to explore some of the colonial inland towns, but then decided to drive down the coast.  It was the wrong choice.

This is all you could see for miles.  Just resort after resort without actually being able to see the coast except for an occasional public beach.

I finally ran into the  biosphere which was a dirt road filled with potholes and because my already suspension-less rental car had 184,000 miles on it, I didn’t want to take a chance of getting stranded, so I turned around.  What a disappointment.  I wish I had explored some of the colonial towns with the beautiful churches and quaint downtown zocalos instead.  Well, there’s always next time.

On the way back, I stopped at one of the resorts where I had a 10% coupon from the hotel where I was staying.  Resident dog…

Nice mosaic…

And nice view when you get to the restaurant…

But it was one of those places that played music with a DJ on the beach which I am NOT a fan of.  When I’m at the beach, I just want to hear the sea gulls and the sound of the waves against the shore.  I don’t want to hear the heavy beat of some rap song while I’m trying to relax.  But then again, I’m not 25 years old anymore, am I?

Went down to the beach and this is the view to the right…

And to the left…

Toes in Tulum sand…

Here’s what I had for the 10% off…a nice healthy salad.  And it was very good!  And I think it only cost about $20 USD!!  What a deal, huh?  No, it was not worth it, but that’s what these resort places are charging and are getting away with.

While I was eating, a young women came up to me and asked me what I was eating because she thought it looked so good.  We got to talking and she told me that she was from the U.S. and had moved with her Mexican husband and two young children to Tulum sight unseen.  Wow…that’s a big leap of faith.  She told me that she has her good times and bad but that she would never go back.  It seems like everyone who moves to Mexico wants to stay.  That says something.

So…the question of the hour.  What is my opinion of Tulum?  I wouldn’t go back in the near future.  There are too many other towns and cities in Mexico that I’d rather visit first.  First of all, there really isn’t that much to do in the town.  If anything, it’s a starting point to do other things like visiting cenotes or ruins.  Secondly, the restaurant prices are definitely not a bargain so you don’t feel like you’re saving a whole lot by staying there.  Thirdly, and most importantly, I don’t like the fact that the beach and the town are so separate…and that it’s difficult to get that “beach feel” if you’re not staying at a hotel ON the beach.  And while Tulum has hotels and restaurants right on the beach, they are not conducive to people just strolling by to stop in.  You have to make a point to go to any of the restaurants on the coast line.

Another thing you have to keep in mind in regards to the hotels along the beach is that many of them have limited electricity.  They are eco-friendly and some of them don’t have electricity during the night hours and most of them don’t have any air conditioning.  I asked about room rates while I was there and could have gotten a room for about $55 USD a night.

While I don’t regret my stay in Tulum, I don’t think I would stay there again in the near future.

Tulum…Chapter Two

Tulum was actually larger than I thought it was going to be.  Not a large city by any means, it was still an active town with many restaurants to choose from.  One thing that was disappointing was that the prices were much higher than I thought they were going to be.  While I expected the beach resort restaurants to be pricey, I didn’t think the in-town restaurants were much better.  On my first night, I stopped at an Argentinian place along the main highway downtown.  They brought a complimentary appetizer of bread and chimichurri sauce and sauteed onions.  Isn’t it nice how everything is colored-coordinated, to include the beer and my sunglasses?  Rich shades of browns and golds…would make a nice advertisement.

I didn’t know what to expect because I had never had this before, but it was wonderful.  I could have been satisfied with having just this for dinner.

More tightly napkin-bound utensils…

For lunch I had the vegetarian crepes.  I should have just stuck with the appetizer because this was WAY more than I was hungry for.  This was one of the least expensive items on the menu and it was about 120 pesos.  It was good…

Very rich and filling…

I could only eat about half of it.  For dinner that night, the owner of my hotel recommended Charlies.

For a restaurant with such an American name, I would have thought it was owned by Americans, but the woman who seated me didn’t speak a lick of English.  She seemed like the owner or manager, and was very nice, but it was very difficult to understand her.  After some conversation, I was able to figure out that she wanted me to come back the next night because they were having entertainment.  I’m always kind of amazed that even with my severely limited knowledge of the Spanish language I am able to understand some conversations just from various words I can decipher.

I ordered the shish-kabob, but was very disappointed.  The meat was very tough and I couldn’t eat all of it.  Again, it was pretty pricey at about 150 pesos…definitely not worth it.

After dinner, I learned that there were salsa dance lessons in the back room, so I decided to go back and check it out.  The main participants consisted of an American couple with two small children.  I will have to say that many Americans could learn a few things about dancing from our friends south of the border.  Most of us are WAY too stiff and awkward and could use some serious loosening up before we try to come close to imitating our very talented southern neighbors.  This couple looked like it was more work than fun and definitely needed a few shots of tequila in my humble opinion.  Sorry I didn’t get photos.

It was hard not to notice that most restaurants that had televisions were showing the Olympics.  Here’s the trampoline competition…

I just had a beer in this place and noticed that it had its own little Dia de los Muertos celebration on a Ferris Wheel.  How fun…little skeletons with their arms up…wheeeeee!!!!!

Subway in Tulum.  Yep… I went there after my day in Coba.  I was tired and just wanted to get back to the claustrophobic hotel, believe it or not.  The 6-inch sub I ordered was only about $1.70 US dollars…wow.  And it was good!

Okay, so these are just some miscellaneous shots of Tulum…I took these the morning I was leaving for Akumal.

Fruit and veggie stand…

Happy Mojito Bar owner…

Ssshhhhhhhhh!!!!!!  (Whispering…)  I think someone had a hard night…


I wish they had had the prices on this sign…I would like to have known how much they were.  They were cute.

I’d also like to know how much this place is, too.  It was a half block off the main highway and actually looked very nice.

It’s the looooooove bus…

The ever-popular masks…

And another fruit and veggie stand…

Here’s where I had breakfast my last morning in Tulum…

A veggie omelet…

It was good…very cheesy…

I’m saying…it must be a law!

No matter where you go in Mexico, you get a feel that despite the problems, these people love their country.

And they love each other.

One more post to come of the “other” Tulum.

Tulum…Chapter One

I thought I would do several posts on Tulum rather than one long one.  The strange thing about Tulum is that there are actually two areas…the main town which sits right on the highway…and the hotels and beach areas that run along the coastline.  They are not within walking distance of one another which is kind of a shame.  It is at least a five minute taxi ride to get from the town to the beach, depending how far you are going down the coast and costs about 50 pesos for the ride.

First, I started out the day in Playa del Carmen.  When I’m in Mexico, I always like staying in hotels that have cable TV.  I don’t watch a whole lot of TV when I’m there, but when you travel alone, it’s always kind of nice to have some chatter in the background.  It’s kind of interesting to flip channels…did you know Barney speaks Spanish?  And it looks like he’s in Venice, so he must speak Italian, too!

Personally, I only like to watch de pelicula which shows old Mexican movies.  They’re silly, but for some reason, they make me feel at home…I have no idea why.

Well, it’s time for breakfast, so I go to a nearby restaurant on the main strip.  Here I am…

The waiter just grabbed my camera and took a picture.  All the waiters are always so nice in Mexico.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a single instance when a waiter hasn’t been.  However, I didn’t take a picture of breakfast this morning because it was one of the worst breakfasts I think I have ever had in Mexico.  I just had eggs with potatoes and sausage.  You wouldn’t think that would be too hard to screw up, but it was really bad.  The potatoes were just like a McDonald’s hash brown patty and the sausage was a mediocre hot dog cut in half length-wise.  Yikes.  I don’t think I’ll be visiting this establishment for breakfast again.

Time to head to the bus for Tulum.  I don’t follow Disney cartoon movies, so I don’t know what was showing, but it’s kind of funny to see these dubbed in Spanish.

Here we are backing out of the bus station.  I will have to say the bus drivers of these big buses are very skilled in maneuvering around tight places.  For one thing, the parking spaces in these stations don’t leave a whole lot of room in between buses, so that alone always impresses me.  But seeing these huge vehicles turn sharp corners in very tight, crowded Mexican towns just amazes me.  This was particularly evident when I was to Vallodolid.  Some of those streets were extremely narrow and cars were parked along the sides.  It’s amazing that these guys don’t run into something once in awhile.  I give them lots of kudos.

Here’s a typical street scene in crowded Playa del Carmen…

There’s nothing really to take pictures of along Highway 307 when you’re going down the coast line.  The road is too far away from the shoreline to see, and all the hotels and attractions are tucked back from the highway, so you can’t really see anything along the way.

Here’s the ADO bus station in Tulum…

And here’s my hotel in Tulum…the Secret Garden….which I was pretty disappointed in and would never stay at again.

Here’s my room which was right next door to the check-in area, so I never felt like I had a whole lot of privacy.  Besides that, I normally don’t mind when a room is small, but this one had a very claustrophic feel to it.

Maybe that was because of the dark brown wall and barn-looking door…

The bathroom was very dark…

But the shower was a good size…

Here’s the center courtyard between the two rows of rooms.  One evening, I decided to take my laptop out there to do some blogging while another couple was relaxing.  As I stepped over to one of the benches, I said, “Do you mind if I join you?”  Neither one said a word.  I thought maybe they were foreigners and couldn’t understand me, but you would have thought they might have said some kind of greeting.  Anyway, it was REALLY dark out there and I had to rely on the light from my laptop in order to see where to sit.  It seems like they could have had some dim lights out there or something so you didn’t trip on anything.  So I sit down on the bench and start working on the blog when I suddenly feel/hear something “land” on the bench next to me.  I couldn’t see anything in the dark, so I kind of felt around on the bench next to me to see if there was something there.  As I write this now, though, I can’t even believe I did that!  What if it had been a scorpion…or a snake!!  And here I’m trying to feel what it was??  Really, Deb? Feeling rather uncomforable because of the mute fellow hotel guests and my unknown bench occupant, I left pretty quickly to return to the safety of my claustrophic room.

So, on to the town of Tulum.  It sits right on Highway 307 which runs from Cancun to Chetumal.

Because it is the main highway between those two locations, the traffic can be pretty noisy and hectic at times.  Huge tractor trailers come through all the time…and many of these are semis pulling another full semi behind.

Because of all this traffic, they have guards that stand on the main intersections who stop traffic so that people can cross the street.  That’s definitely a good idea and makes things much safer.

They also have the typical cars making the rounds with the loud speakers making announcements about who knows what…

Here’s the place where I rented my car.  If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be renting a car on my own in a town in Mexico from a little hole-in-the-wall place, I would have told you you were crazy.  Now maybe I’M the one who’s crazy…haha!

You see police trucks circling the town quite often with officers in the back. 

After awhile, you don’t even think about it…although they do look a little formidable in their black outfits…

Here’s the zocalo where all the locals come to gather in the evening…

They had a model of the Tulum ruins enclosed in a big display case. I didn’t go to the ruins this time, but have been there before.  You can check out that visit here.

Here’s just a typical street scene around the corner from where I was staying.

This tree is called a Pride of Barbados.  They have these in Texas, but they are only bushes…they aren’t huge trees like this one.  They are all over Mexico and are just beautiful.  They clipped this one to accommodate those big semis going through town.

Had to share this sign I saw on a store window.  A “holyday home”…hahaha!

I’ll end this post on some beautiful flowers growing at my hotel.  More on Tulum to come.

Grand Cenote

I got home at about 10:15 p.m. on Thursday night and had to go into work on Friday because it was the first day of registration for the fall semester at the university.  Even though I was so tired after a day’s worth of traveling, I ended up tossing and turning on Thursday night and didn’t get much sleep.  So I was pretty much worthless on Friday.  It took the weekend to recover, so now I need to go back through my photos and post some things I never got to while I was in Mexico.

I will have to admit that this was a strange trip for me.  There was too much jumping around from one place to the next and it didn’t end up to be a real relaxing vacation.  Plus, having to deal with Hurricane Ernesto wasn’t in my plans, so that took away some of the fun, too, although it was somewhat interesting, nonetheless.  Since it had been a year and a half since I had been to Mexico, I think I tried to fit too much in and it just ended up being kind of disjointed.  I never really felt a connection with anywhere that I stayed and that was a disappointment for me because I’ve always felt that before.

Anyway, I still want to make some posts of things I experienced along the way.  This post will be about the Grand Cenote which is just outside of Tulum on the way to Coba.  I hadn’t planned on making any stops before Coba, but since I had the car, it was convenient.  It cost 100 pesos to get in…and here’s the first thing you see when you enter.  I don’t think the restaurant was open…maybe it is during a busier time.

They had a pen full of peacocks before you got to the cenote…

So the cenote isn’t far from the road and this is what you see when you get there…

It isn’t that far below the surface of the ground level which kind of surprised me…especially being named “Grand” Cenote.  My first cenote was Ik Kil, near Chichen Itza, which you can view here:  Ik Kil   Ik Kil is much deeper underground and more impressive in that respect.

There were lots of lily pads.  See the turtle in the center?

The thing that was impressive about this cenote was the incredible reflection of the sun on the water.  It created beautiful shimmering effects with the camera.

I particularly like this shot…and I did not manipulate this photo at all…

And it looked like there were caverns and crawlspaces underneath the rocks where you could swim…

See another turtle?

Okay, so I climb back out of the cenote and see a sign where there are some more down a pathway.  No one else is going down this way, but I decide to see if there’s something worth seeing.  After about a five minute walk, I come to what looks like a cenote in progress.  It’s very shallow and dirty and there are about five Mexican workers moving rocks and talking…until they see me and everyone stops talking.  Okay…time to turn around and go back since I’m out here all by myself.

On the way back, I see this.  I’m adventurous, but not THAT adventurous.  This is what horror movies are made from.  Nice home-made ladder, though.

Now we come to a “feeder” cenote off the main one.  It’s amazing how clear and blue the water is…

This is the view going back to the main opening under the rocks…

Then this is back at the main cenote again…

But this time, a bunch of scuba divers had come and were just getting in the water.  If that’s the case, then there must be caves and caverns back there that are worth exploring.  I’m not a scuba diver (yet), but I’m thinking that would be pretty fun to explore what’s under there.

On the way out, I saw the customary chickens and roosters…

This is probably his son (awwwww)…

And a final picture of the beautiful flowers that were blooming on the grounds.  I don’t know what they are but they were as delicate as tissue paper…and such a pretty color.

Coming up next…my stay in Tulum.

Every trip comes to an end…

I’m not going to post much tonight.  I’m tired and kind of blue about heading back north of the border…not to mention having my camera die.  Some people think it may come back if I put it in rice, so I will give it a try.

I will post more when I get back and get my pictures organized .  I have pros and cons about the places I have stayed and will post those when I collect my thoughts.  Living through Hurricane Ernesto wasn’t that bad.  I fell asleep at about 10:30 when I learned that none of my neighbors were going to evacuate.  I woke up at about 3:45 to the same sounds of rain and wind that I fell asleep to.  The electricity and internet were working, however, so I just went back to sleep.  Today was still extremely windy…so much so that you really couldn’t do anything on the beach.  A few people went swimming, but there were no boats or snorkelers.  When I went out to the beach this morning, I expected a big mess but it really wasn’t that bad.  Mostly seaweed and some plastic trash like bottles, etc.  My neighbors told me that the winds only got to about 35 kilometers per hour, so that wasn’t much…although to me as a newbie to hurricanes, it was pretty noisy. My thinking was that if they weren’t going to worry…I wasn’t going to worry.

All in all, it was a good trip.  I definitely would have done some things differently and I will explain those in the next few days.  I will end this on a shot I got of the beach south of Akumal Bay before my camera died.  This beach is amazing and clean and blue…and reminds me of Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres.

Do you think these logs just really appear on the beach??  Or does someone put them there?  Either way…I wonder how long this log has been floating in the sea.

Ernesto is here…

Just a quick post tonight because I’m afraid the electricity and/or internet may go out depending on how strong Ernesto becomes.  The day started out pretty gloomy…

It poured for awhile, then let up a bit, so I decided to bike into town so that I didn’t go stir crazy here in the condo.  It’s a cute place, but I don’t want to spend every waking hour here while I’m on vacation.

My first stop in town is the little convenience store for these…

Because on my bike ride, my flip flop got caught on a damn topes.  I lost the flip flop and the bike pedal came up and hit me in the shin.  It’s like, “Really, Deb???  You can climb a mile up Coba (well, maybe not a whole mile, but it felt like it), and you get wounded on a freaking bicycle??”  Tell me about it.  At least I didn’t fall.  That would have been one major embarrassment.  But I did have to stop the bike and go back for the damn flip flop.  Lovely, huh?

So, on the way back to the condo, it started pouring.  And the weather has been pretty awful since then.  The wind is the worst…it just won’t let up.  It also rains…but not continuously.  Sometimes it will just drizzle, sometimes it will pour and right now it’s not raining at all.  I took a walk on the beach just a few minutes ago and the waves are fierce.  A couple may seem pretty tame, and then all of a sudden a big one will come and just about knock you off your feet.  I took this picture this morning when it was raining…

This is from the window of my dining area where I do all my blog work.  As you can see from the blurry photo, the wind and water are working up a storm.  When I took a walk out there a little while ago, some of the waves were getting up to that middle palm.  The condos right on the beach have their hurricane shutters up.  I don’t have any hurricane shutters!  I look out on that churning sea and I can see how powerful it is.  I don’t think we have anything to worry about here, but it definitely is a reality check when it comes to Mother Nature.

On a final sad note, there was one fatality from Ernesto.  While biking back from town, the downpour effected my camera and it’s pretty much gone. I’m very sad.  That camera has accompanied me on many trips to Mexico and I’m sorry to see it go.  I didn’t bring another camera, so I won’t be taking anymore pictures during my stay.  Luckily, I saved all my previous pictures on a flash drive, so I will still be able to do posts on Tulum and the cenotes.  Right now, I’m kind of in mourning.  Goodbye, G12…you’ve been a good traveling buddy.

The cycle of life…

I didn’t do much of anything today.  I did rent a bicycle from the condo office, though.  Quite a sweet ride, wouldn’t you say?  Especially the basket…I love the basket.  Much easier to bring home trinkets from the souvenir shops.  Although I have to say that after climbing Coba…and now the bicycle…my legs have had quite a workout this vacation.  That’s not a bad thing, though.

So I drove into town, although I didn’t really take many pictures.  Did a little shopping, ate a little lunch, came back and sat out on the beach for awhile.  While I was sitting out there, I noticed these little areas in the sand surrounded by rocks and coral with little signs that looked like crosses.

While they may look like mini grave sites, they are, in fact, the opposite.  I asked someone who was passing by and these little areas note the places where mama sea turtles have laid their eggs.  This person also told me that some had surfaced just a short ways down the beach.  Luckily, I had my camera, so off I went.  I should have taken a picture of the group of people surrounding this little scene, but I was so intent on what was happening, I didn’t think of it.  Apparently, the mother turtles come to the beach during the night and lay their eggs about a foot underneath the surface of the sand.  (This is what one of the people who was in the group told me.)  When the eggs hatch, the turtles slowly make their way to the surface.  It is a very slow process and when a few turtles pop their heads through the sand, it can still be awhile before they come all the way out.

The woman who seemed to be the head of the group said that they would probably be popping out at about 7:00 p.m., so I made it a point to be there by then.  Well, these baby turtles’ schedules weren’t exactly “on time,” and we anxiously waited about 45 minutes before they made their appearance.  The few that had popped their heads through were motionless for almost the entire 45 minutes that I was there.  Then the one that was on top started to move his flippers.  That’s all it took and then what was probably about 50 or so baby turtles poured out of that hole and headed for the sea.  It was pretty amazing.

For these little guys to come to life and know exactly what they’re supposed to do is a miracle.  And I couldn’t believe how fast they moved!

And after about only a couple minutes, they were all gone.  These little guys were only about four inches long.  They can grow to over three feet and weigh about 400 pounds.  I wish them well…they certainly made my day.

It’s raining now.  I think Hurricane Ernesto is stopping by for a visit.  I have my window open and I hear the sea crashing against the shore…and the rain.  Two of my favorite sounds.  Life is good.

Where is Deb now??

I am behind on posts, but that’s okay.  When I get home, I’ll be able to add things I didn’t have time to do on the trip…like the Grand Cenote and Tulum.  For tonight, I’m just doing a simple post on my new digs.  I posted a picture on facebook of where I’m staying and I got a question as to what was on the bed.  As a frequent traveler to Mexico, I’ve gotten used (and almost expect) towel art on the beds and in the bathrooms.  This isn’t the norm for hotels north of the border other than maybe making the end of a toilet roll into a point as opposed to leaving it straight.  Mexicans take their towel art seriously and are very good at it.

But let’s get back to the beginning of this post.  Here is where I got off the bus and had about a quarter mile traipse to the taxi area to take me to my new digs.

Let me give you a little history of the morning when I thought I would have a leisurely breakfast and have plenty of time to catch a bus to the mystery destination.  I was going through shops and taking my time, then stopped at the ADO bus station in Tulum to purchase my ticket to ____.  I was informed it left in 10 minutes, otherwise I would have to wait for another two hours.  Sh**!!!  I should have researched this beforehand.  So I rush back to my hotel which is about three blocks away to grab my stuff and get the heck out of there.  Luckily, I had packed pretty much everything up so it was just a matter of stuffing some minor stuff into the suitcase and throwing my keys at the desk clerk and running out the door.  I get there right at the time the bus is supposed to be there, but of course, it’s not there and doesn’t appear until 20 minutes later.  In the meantime, I’m sweating buckets in the million degree heat for running three blocks there and back and must look like a crazy woman.  My bus finally appears and it’s only me and another guy who gets on board.  This is not an ADO’s a Mayab bus.  Mayab buses are definitely not as upscale as ADO buses.  They may not have chickens sitting next to you, but the other guy who got on board with me stuffed basketfulls of produce in the luggage department, so it’s not far off.  No movies on this bus and the air conditioning consists of open windows.  I sat next to a Guatemalen guy who kept looking at me like I must be sick or something because I was so freaking hot from running the six blocks and kept wiping my face off with a cloth.  He probably thought I had some ebola virus or something that I caught in some Mexican village somewhere and was totally contagious.  I think he was very glad when I got off the bus.

So…let’s get back to those new digs!

It’s really nice having a condo as opposed to a hotel room because of the convenience of having a fridge, microwave, dinner and silver ware, etc.  This was a last-minute choice on-line and I lucked out.  It’s pretty much like a little home and I told the person I made the arrangements with that I’m not moving out.  She thinks I’m kidding.  Okay…I am.  But, seriously, this would be a very comfortable place to spend a long time.  It’s very clean and completely equipped.

Now we get to the towel art.  Here’s the swan art on the bed…

Toilet paper art…

Wash cloth and hand towel art…

Kleenex art…

Kitchen hand towel art…

Spare toilet paper roll art…

I’ll have to say, they outdid themselves.  I’ve never seen it to this extent and I have to hand it to them.

Onto other aspects of the property, this is what you see when you step out the door…it’s on the second floor of a two unit property.  The first floor property has two double beds.

This is what the building looks like.  Very nice.

They also have a condo unit right next door.  The grounds are extremely well-kept.

This view is a few steps away to the left…

And to the right…

Lots of fossilized rocks dead coral (thanks, Lisa) on this beach…

I wonder how many thousands of years this lighter has been floating around…haha!

Like I said…it’s convenient having a fridge and the conveniences.  Here’s what’s for breakfast tomorrow…

And the owner has provided some pretty nice wine glasses…sweet.

So…does anyone know where I’m staying??

Let’s go to Coba…

I know everyone knows I’m staying in Tulum right now and expects a report on that.  I’m going to put that off for awhile because I have mixed feelings and want to sort those out.  In the meantime, I will post my experience at Coba today.

Okay, so I bought this map of the Yucatan when Border’s was going out of business a couple years ago.  It cost me about a dollar and I couldn’t pass it up.

Before I go on with the rest of my post, I want to mention that I decided to rent a car while staying in Tulum.  I knew I wanted to do some exploring but have heard some bad stories about renting a car…but I went ahead and did it.  I was referred to a place in Tulum by the person who owned the hotel where I was staying so I felt better about that.  It cost $35.00 USD a day which included insurance, so that didn’t seem bad to me.

I was kind of nervous about driving a car in Mexico considering all the crazy cab drivers.  But to tell you the truth I’m kind of a confident (sometimes kind of crazy) driver myself (having lived on the east coast), so I thought I’d give it a whirl.  Here’s my new wheels…

A Hyundai!  Whoo-hoo…I own a 2009 Hyundai Elantra!  This is what the inside looked like.  A standard transmission…and I forgot to take pictures of the torn upholstery.

While driving down the road, I thought I’d take a look at the odometer.  I thought maybe it had tenths or hundreths of the mile at the end, but I timed it and this is the actual number.  If that’s the case, then my 2009 Elantra (with only 19,500 miles on it right now) should last the rest of my lifetime.

After getting used to the extremely loose gear shift, I was feeling pretty good.  I think this car has had its share of topes.  Speaking of which, one of the biggest warnings I would give to people is to watch out for the…

The road bumps.  That’s right…they are EVERYWHERE!  Just when you least expect it, one will appear out of nowhere.  That’s why no vehicle in Mexico has any suspension.  The topes.  They can look like this…

Or like this…

Or they can be about four feet wide and about a foot tall.  Those are usually on main thoroughfares and I didn’t want to stop traffic to take a picture of one of those.

Okay…on to Coba.  Coba has one of the few natural lakes in the Yucatan which i did not know about.

Here’s the layout of the Coba ruins…

So I went in and starting taking pictures…

After I took this one, I started getting a beeping noise every time I wanted to take another picture.  My camera told me that the memory card was full.  WHAT???  It only had about 20 pictures on it and I didn’t bring the new 16 GB card with me because I didn’t think I’d be taking that many pictures!  I went back down to the souvenir shops and found a place that sold me a 4 GB card for 300 pesos.  Bleah!!  This is one of those times when you eat your stupidity for the sake of getting photos.  Live and learn.  But I’m glad I did…you’ll see why.

So, at the beginning of the ruins, there’s an area where they will rent you a bicycle or will transport you with a trike to the ruins.  After I purchased the expensive memory card, I went back in and said “posh” to the bikes/trikes.  After a million miles later, I wish I had opted for the bikes/trikes.  After hiking about 20 minutes from the entrance, I got to this…

And then after another 20 minutes, I got to this…

So now I’m thinking, “Is this really worth all this walking???”  Then I get to this and I think, “Well, this is a little better.”

And again after another 10 minutes (and a prayerful thank you for a refreshment booth), I finally got to this…

And I’m thinking, “Oh, my God…you really CAN climb it!”  Then, as I got closer, I thought, “Yikes…do I really want to?”  It’s a million degrees out here and that is WAY up there!

So, I tell myself…”You came all this way…you talked about climbing ruins. This is it.”

So I did it.  I had to stop about three times to rest on the way up, but a bunch of people who were younger than me had to do the same thing, so that made me feel better.

Here’s the view from the top.  The one benefit was that there was a really nice breeze up there.

I was really hoping there would be some kind of restroom up there so I could fix my hair for a nice picture…but, alas, not…this was all they had…

Which is why I look pretty sorry after trekking up those rocks…

I went down backwards the whole way…that way I didn’t have to look down and I held on to the rope.  It also helped that I was a tomboy when I was young…my three older brothers would have given me sh** if I hadn’t done this.  A lot of women went down on their butts one step at a time.  It is an intimidating sight to look down.

After I got down, my legs were so weak, I had to sit and rest.  When I finally got up to walk, they were still shaky, so I had to take a trike ride back.  My one wimpish part of the deal.

By the way, I’ve heard that they will be not allowing people to climb this ruin soon, so if you want to do it, you should do it pretty quickly.

So I went to the main restaurant there afterwards because I hadn’t even had breakfast before the big climb.  The chicken tacos were so-so…

But this definitely hit the spot…

Next stop…Playa del Carmen!

Having decided to leave PoMo on Thursday, I woke up thinking I would post to my blog first thing and then leave.  Well, as I mentioned in my last post, the wifi in my room was considerably less than dependable, so I ended up going out for breakfast instead.  I went back to Pelicanos because I knew they had Huevos Motulenos…my favorite Mexican breakfast as many of you already know.  They also served a complimentary dish of fruit.

Hell would freeze over before I would ever have a Coke for breakfast when I’m home…I always have a couple cups of coffee when I get up.  But I almost never get coffee when I’m in Mexico because it’s so darn hot!  In fact, I had TWO Cokes this morning because there was hardly any breeze and, well, it was so darn hot!  Here are the Huevos Motulenos.  I’ve had them here before and they are very good.

While I was walking to the restaurant, I saw these flowers in front of one of the shops in town.  I don’t know what they are but they are so pretty.

Finished breakfast, got packed up and it was off to the bus.  It’s about a two-mile cab ride to the bus pick-up area.  The cab driver dropped me off on the highway, then I had to cross the highway to the other side, buy my ticket to Playa del Carmen because you have to stop there to get another bus to Tulum.  Then I crossed back over the highway and waited for the bus.  The wait turned out to be about 30 seconds as I saw him coming down the road…perfect timing!

Buses in Mexico are awesome.  The United States could learn a few things from Mexico about public transportation within the country regarding these buses.  They are very cheap (my fare to Playa del Carmen was 26 pesos which is somewhere around two American bucks), extremely comfortable and air conditioned…and they play movies.  This is a horrible picture, but I’m posting it to show what they’re like.  They have curtains on all the windows so that you can pull them shut if you don’t want to see outside.

This bus was playing the movie, “Date Night,” with Steve Carell which was dubbed in Spanish.  It’s so funny to see an American movie dubbed in Spanish because it usually doesn’t sound anything like the real actor.  I had never seen this movie before, but I was laughing along with everyone else even though I didn’t understand a damn word.

So, here’s the bus station in Playa del Carmen.  While I was on the bus, I decided to just stay the night in Playa.  I have reservations on the 3rd and 4th at a place in Tulum, and I thought that maybe they would have a vacancy tonight as well.  But I knew I would be able to find a place in Playa because it’s a much larger town and they have a lot more hotels.

The big touristy area in Playa is a strip of stores, restaurants and hotels that runs about 10 blocks.  It is full of souvenir shops, restaurants, high-end stores, bars, fast-food restaurants, drug stores, real estate offices, tour guides, etc.  You don’t want to know the number of times I heard, “Hey, lady…come in my shop!”  I’m not a Playa fan.  It is too big, too glitzy, too over-priced and too slick.  But I didn’t want to take the chance that my hotel in Tulum didn’t have a vacancy tonight, so I decided to find a place to stay.

While walking down the strip, I spied this place with a vacancy sign out front.  It’s the Hotel Lunata.

I walked in and found this wonderful oasis.  This picture doesn’t do it justice because it was truly a lush garden and you didn’t feel like you were anywhere near a big city.

Complete with the resident cat…

I decided to go for it because it was really cute!  Look at that beamed ceiling!  And the inlay of river rock on the tile floor…

And all the wood…

And is this the cutest bathroom you’ve ever seen or what??  Look at that wood sink counter!

This is just outside my doorway…

I looked in the little refrigerator in the room and instantly thought, “Sweet!!!”

Then I saw the sign on top of the fridge.  Darn it.

It’s a good thing this little trinket was glued to the shelf because I would have taken it.  Haha…I kid, I kid.

It also had a tiny balcony where you could see what was going on on the strip.  Here’s my view to the right…

And to the left…

The one bad thing about the place was that I couldn’t connect to the internet in my room. So, since I didn’t have internet access in the morning to do a post in PoMo, I needed to find a restaurant that had wifi so I could do some work.  I found one very close to the hotel and just had to order their cheese stuffed poblano pepper.  It was VERY good.

And here are my friendly waiters, Ricardo and Hugo, who endured me sitting there for a couple of hours while I blogged and checked e-mails. Hugo looks a bit serious, but he was a very nice guy.

Only a block away from the strip is the Caribbean Sea.

Toes in Playa sand…

The beaches are kept very clean of seaweed here.

It always bugs me when people get in the way of my pictures, so sometimes I just take them out…haha!

This looks kind of fun.  Maybe on another day…

Here’s a shot of the shoreline.  It’s always pretty crowded in Playa.  I think a lot of nationals come here on holidays.

They even have a Harley store here…

I want one of these for my font porch back home…

I went through one shop with the strangest signs I’ve ever seen.  I’m thinking maybe the owner is not real “guy-friendly”…

They needing some English editing on this one…

This one just totally creeped me out…

Towards the evening, a lot of “entertainment” comes out with people trying to make money in any way possible.

Lots of artists…

And strange sights…

I’ll have some time in the morning before I have to catch the bus for Tulum, so I may get a few more shots of Playa.

Puerto Morelos Update

I had planned on making this post last night, but after editing all my photos I was going to use, I lost all of them somewhere in the ozone and was too tired to do them all over again.  Then this morning, my hotel’s wifi was more “miss” than “hit” so I couldn’t do it there, either.  Now I’m sitting in a restaurant in Playa del Carmen FINALLY getting to this post. *sigh*  On to yesterday’s story…

I had to get up at 4:00 yesterday to make my 7:45 flight out of Austin.  I decided to eat at the airport and opted for the Salt Lick booth for a breakfast taco.


I like the Salt Lick, but this was awful.  I couldn’t wait to get to Mexico for some good food.


My flights were smooth and totally on time which is always a plus.  The line in customs was very reasonable and moved very quickly…


…because all the booths were open.  Things were going well…


…until I got to the luggage area where the line went all the way down the room and back again to go through the luggage security check.


But it actually went pretty quickly and I got the green light.  Another good sign!

Here are the happy and efficient Best Day people in their usual spot outside the airport and still using the trash cans for their clip boards.


Even though I had to wait about 15 minutes, I got a van with two other couples going to Playa del Carmen, so I was the first stop.  Yay!  Here we are going down the highway…


When we got to Puerto Morelos, the driver turned left when we got to the town center.  I said, “Isn’t the Hacienda Morelos the other way??”  He asked, “Oh, is it??”  I said, “Yes, it is.”  I was right…it was.  Here’s the silly gringa telling the Mexican driver where her hotel is in Mexico…haha…go figure. Who knows how long we would have been driving around if I hadn’t known.  Anyway, here’s the hotel…


The reviews on TripAdvisor were pretty good, but I was a little disappointed.  It’s 80 pesos per night, which I thought was a little high.  The room itself was okay…large, air conditioned, with a flat screen TV.



But the bathroom was really dated.  And the lights were so dim, it was like turning on a nightlight.  At least it hid a few wrinkles, though…haha!  I will say it had the best water pressure I think I’ve ever experienced in Mexico.  I love the “water droplet” tiles.  While I was taking a shower, I noticed that I couldn’t find two matching tiles.  Do you think they achieve this by actually dropping water on these tiles some way??  Weird.


I took a walk down the beach and was surprised to see all the seaweed…even in the area where all the people swim.  I don’t remember it being this bad on the two prior visits I made here.  And the beach was much more crowded than I’ve ever seen it.  But, apparently, that’s because a lot of Mexican nationals are on vacation at this time.


I was hungry by this time since all I had had all day was the lousy breakfast taco at the airport.  I stopped at Pelicanos for an early dinner.  Ahhh…my first cerveza.  Boy, did it taste good after that walk on the beach.  It’s hot down here, but actually not as bad as I thought it was going to be.


Complimentary chips and pico de gallo…


The pico de gallo was excellent.  Another “aahhhh”….


I think there must be some kind of Mexican law that requires all restaurants to wrap utensils in napkins as tightly as humanly possible.


I ordered the fish with a Venezuelan sauce.  It tasted good but there were a LOT of bones in there.


Now it’s margarita time!  This place is the Cantina Habanero and is just down the block from the Posada el Moro…the hotel where I’ve stayed in the past in PoMo.  It used to be the only bar that has live music and is open until all hours of the night.  It is frequented regularly by a lot of the ex-pats living there.  While walking around this morning, I saw a sign for a new bar called “Cheers,” so I guess they have competition now.  I didn’t check it out.  Anyway, the Cantina is where I got the scoop that there is a new government in PoMo now that doesn’t really care much about what goes on.  A couple of the ex-pats run an English school that used to get a lot of support from the government, but now it doesn’t from the new group.


One of the guys had his dog with him…


What a character.  He looks exactly like the dog from “Men in Black,” doesn’t he?  Haha!

Some touristy PoMo shots…




Some changes include…

This place is vacant now.  It used to be a really nice jewelry store.


And they’ve torn down El Pirata and the gift shop that was on the corner.  The guys at the bar said no one knows what is going in there.  El Pirata is building another place across the street from the Cantina Habanero.


My first time in PoMo was in March of 2010.  They were working on this place then.  And they were still working on it in March of 2011.  Now it’s for sale…and apparently is still not finished.  Very strange little place.  It would make a cute…something…I don’t know what.


My traditional “toes in the sand” shot…


And here’s the view from my room when I got back in the evening.  Sweet.


I had planned on staying in PoMo for two nights, but then felt like it would have been a waste of my time, so I headed out on the bus this morning thinking I was going to go to Tulum right away.  Since you have to stop in Playa del Carmen on the way, I thought what the hell…I’ll just stay here for the night.  Kinda fun just winging it.

Well, I’m off!

Heading to the airport now.  Like my new suitcase?  It will be easy to spot on the luggage carousel…haha!


Next stop…sunny Mexico!

Traveling Solo

I thought I’d broach the subject of why I enjoy traveling alone.  Since I transferred to a different department at the university, my new co-workers have become familiar with my love of Mexico but some didn’t know I have traveled there alone.  So…when a couple of weeks ago I sent out an e-mail announcing that I was going to be gone for nine days to explore the Yucatan, I got mixed responses.  When people found out I was going there by myself, I could tell most were skeptical about the prospect.  While I appreciate their concern, I’m always amazed at the closed-mindedness of the whole Mexico thing. 

A friend introduced me to Mexico back in 2006 and we traveled there several times since then.  When we parted ways, I decided to continue my journeys alone.  The first time was in May of 2008 when I rented a small apartment in the colonias of Isla Mujeres known as Casa Laguna where I stayed for a week for a very low price.


I will be totally honest in that when I first arrived there on my own, I sat on the bed in this tiny little apartment surrounded by Spanish-speaking natives and asked myself, “What the fuck am I doing here??”  Well, it took a couple of days to get my sea legs and after a week, I felt very much at home and didn’t want to go back.  I have fond memories of that first solo visit and the busy and noisy commotion from the balcony which I grew to love.


Since then, I have visited Mexico a bunch more times…sometimes with someone, sometimes on my own.  I was talking with a co-worker about traveling alone and this is what I told him. I love to travel to Mexico.  I would be more than happy to travel with someone else, but these are the issues:

1)  They are too afraid to travel to Mexico.
2)  They don’t have the money to travel.
3)  They don’t like traveling in general.
4)  They would rather spend their money on other things.

So, what do I do?  Just not travel at all because no one else can or wants to?  I don’t think so.  I have relished my solo visits and wouldn’t give them up for anything.  But it is not for everyone.  Some people need the companionship of others on a trip.  You definitely need to be very independent, self-sufficient, and somewhat brave to travel alone.  But once you get over the initial misgivings, it’s a piece of cake.  And although I’m always met with skepticism when I tell people I travel alone in Mexico, after I explain my reasonings and they see my photographs, I usually detect an amount of envy in my ability to just take off and do whatever the hell I want to do.  I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.