And on to Mexico

Tuesday, June 8, 2004


So to catch you up, I’m on Isla Mujeres, an island off the eastern coast of Mexico, near Cancun. Isla Mujeres is, like Prague, another beautiful place crawling with tourists, including me.

Actually the tourist-crawl isn’t all that bad, especially considering the drunken horde that pours through the streets of Cancun every day. (I’ve actually never spent time in Cancun, I’ve only flown there and then rapidly made my way elsewhere, but I reckon what I’ve learned from watching Wild On E! is sufficiently accurate.) By comparison, Isla Mujeres is relatively quiet and slow-paced. We couldn’t even find a dance club on Saturday night, but we were so tired we didn’t look very hard and probably wouldn’t have had much dance in us anyway.

I’m staying on Quantum Leap, a 48-foot catamaran docked at the Isla Mujeres Yacht Club. It sounds fancy, but in fact just about the only other boats tied up here are all little fishing skiffs, and a few snorkel-tour boats, all owned and operated by the friendly locals. Quantum Leap belongs to Tom and Bette Lee Walker, friends of my mom. Also on board are Gretchen, Tom and Bette Lee’s daughter, Gretchen’s friend Kelly, and Jim Younce, another friend of the Walkers. The Walkers sailed from Mobile, Alabama to Isla Mujeres with Gretchen and some other friends who have since flown home; Kelly, Jim, and I flew in to Cancun on Friday to meet them here and join them on the sail back home.

Gretchen and Kelly and I have hung out in Mobile before, so we’ve been roaming around the island together a fair amount. Yesterday and today we did some snorkeling out on the northern tip of the island, where we found some cool underwater tunnels (I’ve yet to swim through, but I’m still thinking about it) and a good variety of colorful undersea life. I got some good pictures and some short movies with my underwater cam I’ll have to post at some point.

We’ve also discovered the most wonderful little scam. Isla Mujeres is dotted with a good number of posh resorts, some with wonderful beach access, most with decent restaurants, and all with swimming pools of varying luxuriousness. The scam is definitely of the minor-league variety; there’s no free meals or rooms involved, but you do get access to some nice facilities for free. You go to one of the hotel restaurants, order a meal, pay for it up front, and ask them to deliver it you poolside. Then you make your way to the pool and hang out in the lap of luxury, and wait for your food. Today after snorkeling I was feeling really salty and badly wanted a freshwater shower and a dip in a pool, so we walked into the restaurant at the Posada Del Mar hotel and tried out our little scamarino. A few minutes later I was rinsing off in the shower poolside, and not longer after that I had an excellent hamburger in an even more excellent setting. The pool there is surrounded by a series of arches built out of rough-hewn stone. The arches form an aqueduct, and at one end a large stream of water arcs out into a wading pool. If you crawl under it, the descending water makes for a most wonderful pulsing back massage. It felt like a dozen hands all karate-chopping me simultaneously. After swimming and goofing around a while, we all crawled into a hammock to read and/or fall asleep in the palmy shade. Esquellent.

After a couple hours of all this hard work we packed up our stuff and headed back to the boat.

Today we’re pulling out and heading to Isla Contoy, a nature preserve a short distance north from here. There we’ll anchor out and do some more snorkeling. Then we’ll head out into the Gulf of Mexico and sail home to Mobile.

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