My little adventures south of the border.

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Cozumel – Day One

I’m being a tad lax in posting on the blog. While I enjoy blogging, it can be a bit time-consuming and when you’re trying to have fun on a vacation, it can eat into that time.  So that’s my excuse for being late.  I’ll just do a post on my first day in Cozumel…my first time there.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect, so I had an open mind.  It didn’t start out well, however, with an awful ferry ride from Playa del Carmen.  I am used to the UltraMar ferries to Isla Mujeres that are air-conditioned inside, but you have the option of sitting on top in the open air…which I usually did.  This ferry didn’t have that option.  I went on board and found a seat while thinking, “Man, it’s HOT in here!”  I thought that maybe it’s like plane rides in which they don’t turn on the air conditioning until the plane actually starts moving.  I was certainly hoping that was the case, but it wasn’t.  We were packed in there like sardines as it was a full boat, and it was hotter than…well, you know what.  And it didn’t get any better.  I was fanning myself with my printed out Booking.com room confirmations almost the whole time.

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So when we got to Cozumel, it was pouring down rain so everybody waited for it to pass..which it did in about 10 minutes.  I grabbed a taxi to take me to my hotel so that I could dump my suitcase and do some exploring.  I stayed at the Villas El Encanto which I found on-line.  I booked this trip at the last minute so I had to work with what I could find that was available during the busy time of the year.  I lucked out on this one, because it was a charmer.

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Here’s my room…

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I loved the doors that opened out to a little patio.

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The bathroom and shower…

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They had shared kitchens which were fully equipped…

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The grounds were very lush and they had two pools.  And one of the room had its own private pool.

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I would highly recommend this hotel.  The owners and staff are extremely friendly and helpful, and it was a quiet and peaceful location. It’s a little bit of hike to the downtown area, but it’s do-able.  If you hail a cab, it’s about 60 pesos.

El Centro is right on the water, but there’s no beach area.  There is a malecon that runs along the shoreline, and you can walk down to the water, but there are no “toes-in-the-sand” restaurants.

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I walked around town right away, and grabbed some chips and pico de gallo at Palmera’s.  This is as close to the water you’re going to get downtown.

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Here are some pictures around El Centro…

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All the streets are filled with vendors begging you to come in their store.  It seems like they all sell the same things.  I wonder how well they do?

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A few of them had more artistic items, but they were pretty pricey.

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The zocalo was all decorated for the holidays…

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As you can see in the picture above, there are cruise ships here.  At least one was docked at the pier during the time I was here.  The one pictured below is small compared to the ones that were docked further down the island.

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I also took a walk in the neighborhood where my hotel was.  It’s a nice area and very quiet.

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This house for sale is across the street from the hotel.

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If you click on the picture below to enlarge it, you’ll see that those are mallard ducks in the windows.  That’s a first for me.

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Some neighborhood murals…

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And a funny one…ha!

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And some pretty flowers…

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The Bougainvillea are so lush and beautiful in Mexico.

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Family love…

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Here’s my view at breakfast the next morning…

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I had the “Poblano Eggs,” although I don’t know why they were called that since I didn’t see any poblano peppers in it.  I can just about here the comments from everyone when you see this picture of them.  They do look pretty awful.  That’s mole sauce over the eggs.  I always like to try something new, but I think I’ll pass on this one in the future.  I like mole sauce, but not especially on eggs.

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Obligatory toes-in-the-sand picture in Cozumel.

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Back to Mexico – Christmas Break 2015

It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been to Mexico.  I spent two weeks on Isla Mujeres in June of 2014 at that time, and was very disappointed in all the changes there.  Between a ton more tourists and increased prices, it just didn’t seem like the same ol’ Isla to me.  While I suppose it’s good for their economy, it made me kind of sad, so I wanted to try something different this time.  I left yesterday and went to Playa del Carmen which is just a stopover point since I arrived in the evening.  I’ve been to PDC  several times before and I’m not a big fan.  It’s too commercial and glitzy for me…I’d rather just have laid back atmosphere and a more true Mexico feel.  PDC is all about shopping and expensive food.  I know there are less expensive family-owned places, but you have to take the time to find them and I never wanted to take that time in Playa del Carmen.  But I diverse…back to my current trip.

Here’s the familiar Best Day people scrambling to help their travelers, who I’ve never had a problem with.  I think they’re trying to get away from “Best Day” and use “BD Travel,” but they’ll always be Best Day to me.  For the life of me, I can’t understand why the airport wouldn’t put some benches out there for the travelers to sit on while they’re waiting for their rides.  And the travel people always have to use the trash cans to set their paperwork on.  It’s been that way for the past 10 years I’ve been traveling there, so I’m thinking it’s not going to change.

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When we got going, it was dark, so I couldn’t take any pictures along the way…other than this one.  This is a new feature for the shuttle rides for me…videos of things you can do on the Riviera Maya while you’re on the way to your hotel.

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Here was my hotel in PDC…it’s the Hacienda Real Caribe.  The entrance is just a block off of the main strip in PDC so it’s very convenient to everything.  A sign in the lobby said that a regular room was $190 per night, but I got my room for $128 (taxes included) through Booking.com.

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It had a very Spanish feel and I wish I could have stayed there longer…well, maybe if it would have been somewhere else besides Playa del Carmen.

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It was a totally comfy bed.

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With a little balcony outside that faced the street.

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Here’s one view…

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And here’s the other…

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And here’s the bathroom…

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I would highly recommend it…I could have stayed there a month or two.

On to Playa del Carmen.  I first went there about seven years ago and thought it was commercial and glitzy at that time.  Now it is doubly so.  They’re building more and more shops and hotels and restaurants and they are very high end.  It’s obvious that they are catering to wealthy people who expect the best.  Here are just a very few…

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I don’t know how well these shops do because I hardly saw anyone in them and I didn’t see anyone carrying packages.  But it was just after Christmas, so that could be a reason.  It sure seems to be growing, though.  I was in Las Vegas in October, and it reminded me a little of that.  It’s not my cup of tea, but I guess it’s good for Mexico.

There are also the native merchants who are selling the Mexican wares…

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Here’s where I went for dinner.  (This picture was actually taken the next morning because I forgot to get a picture of it that night.)

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And I just got the chicken tacos because I wasn’t that hungry.

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They were just okay…nothing special at all.  I did like their tortilla chips and salsa, however.

These guys were making the rounds at all the restaurants.  They were actually very good.

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After walking around awhile, I decided to treat myself to a Margarita.  Kind of a cute little setting, right??  Pretty candle holder and glass.

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The next morning, I had to have my usual first fix of Huevos Motulenos.  They were okay.  I don’t think anyone can beat the ladies at the Loncherias on Isla Mujeres. They are the best.

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After breakfast, I realized I hadn’t even seen the beach, so I took a side trip there.

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Here’s what I saw when I got to the beach.  Yuck!

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And this was the other way…yuck!

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I’ve read some posts on Facebook about how the seaweed has been a real problem on the Mexican coasts this year.  I’ve never seen it this bad at Playa del Carmen. They were trying to clean it up, but it looked like a no-win situation.  It is, after all, just nature.

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And here’s looking out the window of the ferry to Cozumel.  Adios, Playa del Carmen!  More on that later…stay tuned.

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GoPro Isla…

Here are just some fun shots with my son’s GoPro camera on my last visit.  This will be my last trip to Isla Mujeres.  It has become “discovered” by daytrippers and HGTV, and it just isn’t the same to me.  Adios, Isla…I will cherish the memories.

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