Tag Archives: Yucatan

Isla! Just the Two of Us….no?

Upon booking our spring break to one of our favorite Mexican hideaways, Isla Mujeres, I had to text one of my friends to rub it in that we were heading back to Isla.  Imagine my surprise when he texted back that he and some other mutual friends from our small town had also just booked a vacation there during the same week! Their group of six soon grew to another group of six and so our private getaway became the best of both worlds–relaxing beach days for two followed by fun evenings out with friends. Like the never-experienced luxury of being on a tropical vacation in your own town!

And so we were off!  Russell gets so excited at the airport when we go on vacation.  russell-airportGlad to see the TSA didn’t crush all of his joy in the security check point.

Once in Mexico, typical days on Isla consisted of a morning beach walk and breakfast at our hotel, NaBalam http://www.nabalam.com.  A few days I went to yoga, once at Na Balam by a true yogi–a, dare I say, shaman?  This spiritual little guy made for a nice alternative to my usual yoga.  He even gave Russell an hour of yoga therapy during the week.  Another day I ventured down to yoga class on the skydeck of Cabanas María del Mar.  That yoga instructor was more California surfer than Indian guru, making me chuckle every time I was in a pose and he would prompt in his Zen-stoner vibe, “Relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaxxxxxx”.

After the morning workouts, we would settle into our daily routine of sunbed surfing while overlooking beautiful North Beach.  After a regimen of read, swim, repeat, I waited until it seemed an appropriate and judgment-free time to order my afternoon bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and some lunch. isla-16 The new restaurant at Na Balam has fantastic food, like these octopus tostadas and fresh seafood ceviche. There’s just nothing better than lying in “bed” all day on one of the best Caribbean beaches while people bring you seafood and pour you wine.  Ahhh…..p1060398

As hard as it was to break up that lovely daytime routine, we agreed to go with our friends one day on a ride around the island on golf carts.  We’ve been to Isla several times and know the golf cart route well.  Our morning began with a ride along the windy, rough side of the island where we stopped to walk around awhile on the rock formations.  My friend Ron, doing his best impression of James Franco from 127 Hours.  Luckily he did not have to saw off his arm…p1060363

After working up an appetite from our climbing, we continued south to Colonia La Gloria, the neighborhood housing most of Isla’s residents.  Here we would find Mango Café, one of the top rated restaurants on Tripadvisor.  www.facebook.com/mangocafeisla

It seemed the word was out as this place was packed so we were told it would be about a 25 minute wait for a table.  We made the most of our wait by strolling around the neighborhood and befriending some little girls.  Some of them decided to use Russell for their hide and seek spot.  “Hey, let’s hide behind this big, white guy!”p1060366

And so our playdate was interrupted by a wave across the street signaling our table was ready.  ¡Adiós, chicas! The Mango Café did not disappoint!  Do not come here looking for a “light breakfast”.  Some of us ordered breakfast quesadillas while the others ordered the Stuffed Poblano Chile which came out as large as a deep fried football!p1060370An hour later we all waddled out of the place and continued further south, passing the Crayon Housep1060375and making our way to one of the island cemeteries.  If you’ve never visited a Mexican cemetery, it is a must.  Nothing scary here, looks more like a mini-golf course than anything from a Halloween movie. p1060380p1060376 The tiny mausoleums are interesting and made for a nice little digestive stroll.  *Side note, one should not consume 3,000 calories before noon. And so we were off again to Punta Sur, the southernmost point of the island, where conveniently there was a bar in a judgement-free zone so many in our group partook in a piña colada.  Nothing goes better on top of a deep fried football than a 600 calorie frothy drink! Ahhhh……vacation.

After a walk about and some photo ops on the lovely south end, p1060386

we were back on the carts and northbound up the calm, eastern side of the island.  With no agenda, we decided we would make stops as they called our attention so it was no surprise when our lead golf cart pulled into the Ice Bar.  A tourist trap if there ever was one, we went for it and donned our yeti-esque parkasp1060390 in the 90 degree lobby and entered the solid ice bar and its freezing temps.  I loved that we paid thousands of dollars to escape the cold and then paid money to be in the cold.  p1060395We Americans are so strange! Anyway, it was a fun thing actually and I know we really did need two more margaritas on top of the deep fried football.

After the Ice Bar, we stopped for lunch(????!!!!) at Playa Lancheros, a requirement when on the island.  It is a great spot to take a swim, which we did, and chill out for awhile before making the final journey north back to town and the hotels.  Of course we went out to dinner that night, don’t really remember what or where as I think my clothes were so tight it blocked circulation to my brain.  No more 10,000 calorie days on this trip I said the next morning.  Through sheer will power and restraint I was able to keep the rest of the trip below 5,000 a day.  I know, you are thinking about my sacrifice and I appreciate it.  A “diet” on vacation—what??

Anyways, the week went on with more sunning, swimming, reading, and wine, with a little snorkeling by the bridge mixed in for cardio.  Nights were a whirlwind of one great seafood dinner p1060416after the next at places like Rolandi’s Pizzeria, Asia Caribe, Muelle 7, Olivia’s, and Jax.  There were also some nice breakfasts at the market stands behind Na Balam and, of course, the out of this world Lobster Eggs Benedict at Rooster Café.

There were a lot of celebrations too that week on the island.  While sitting at a bar one evening, we watched the set up of a child’s birthday party in the street and restaurant next door.  Russell was instrumental in helping them hang their piñata p1060412and it was great watching the kids smash it in the street as tourists walked by.  We also got to celebrate our friend Karen’s birthday one night.  I think her birthday wish was to not get back on the ferry at the end of the week!  We started her big night in style with sunset cocktails on the balcony of their room at Ixchel Hotel.  It was so romantic watching the sun go down from that vantage point, till our friend Andy photo bombed our big moment….or did we photo bomb him?  Whatever.p1060441

As we had come to the last day of our trip, we decided that since we did originally book the trip as a romantic getaway that we should have one intimate dinner just the two of us, so we headed back to the south end where we dined at Maria’s Kan Kin. This was a truly memorable evening with patio seating overlooking the infinity pool.  We were there in time for sunset, which made for an even better view looking across the bay at the lights of Cancún. We started out with a shrimp appetizerp1060450 and finished up with a seafood pasta and this beautifully prepared grouper. Fantastic!p1060455

And so ended another great week on Isla Mujeres.  You just can’t go wrong with a vacation here.  And you never know what new friends, or in our case this time, old friends, you’ll run into!

As a parting note, whenever I go to Isla I try to think about jobs Russell and I could get here and maybe stay awhile.  I found that my translation skills could be needed at this supermarket. Mmmmmm….nothing more refreshing on a 90 degree day than a “cool” beer!

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Explosive Evening in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

  Unlike most fables, I am going to put the moral of this story first:

Don’t order chicken in a dimly-lit outdoor restaurant in Mexico.

That said, here’s what happened on a trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico with our friends, Coco and Tricia.  Coco was enjoying his chicken kabobs on the dark patio of an unnamed Calle Hidalgo restaurant. Playa 4--Coco After dinner the four of us strolled the streets of the island.  My husband Russell and I like to do “the Spain stroll”, a very slow, relaxed, after-dinner walk.  After about 20 minutes of this stroll, Coco lets us know he is not feeling well and needs a bathroom.  We are now in an area with no chance of public bathrooms so we start moving faster toward the Na Balam hotel and Zazil Ha restaurant where we were heading to set up our New Year’s Eve dinner reservation. 

As we neared the Na Balam, we came to another hotel and sent Coco into the lobby.  I quickly coached Coco on the correct pronunciation for “Baño, por favor”.  Unfortunately all of his mental effort was being used on colon control so the only thing he did to the lady at the front desk was shout at her “Bah-nose! Bah-nose!”  She didn’t know what to do and instead of pointing him in the right direction, she simply stared.  With a look of increased urgency on his face, Coco emerged from the hotel and we quickly moved down the road to the Na Balam.  But it was too late.

In a panic, Coco and Russell left the sidewalk and scanned the brushy area behind a run-down bus stop for a place Coco could go-NOW!  Tricia and I waited awkwardly for a moment on the sidewalk and decided to head to Na Balam, telling the guys to meet us there.  We didn’t really want to hear anything.

Tricia and I were in the beautiful entrance of the Zazil Ha restaurant when Russell and Coco approached, Coco’s face white as a sheet and his head sweaty.  He went on to tell us how behind that bus stop he found a scooter parked and had used the handlebars for leverage as he released his explosive diarrhea.  We were laughing as he shared this, but were also feeling really sorry for him. 

And then the poor guy tells us how he had to use his underwear for toilet paper.  Well, that’s where the pity stopped for Tricia.  “Those were brand new underwear from American Eagle!” she shrieked, busting his chops.  Here poor Coco just had explosive diarrhea. At night. In front of his friend. Behind a bus stop. Grasping a stranger’s scooter.  In Mexico.  I doubt he was concerned about the underwear!  We all got a big kick out of the whole incident and the next morning when we thought of the poor guy walking over to his scooter, we were comforted knowing at least he was left a nice pair of underwear.

They’re probably still there.isla 2 001

 

“Memorable” Massage on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

My original plan with this blog was to work my way back through my most interesting trips, but now I have decided to skip around instead as I recall things so that brings me to one of the several times I’ve visited Isla Mujeres—a small, wonderful island off the coast of Cancún.  100_0054On this particular trip it was just my husband and me and I decided to set up massages for us at Na Balam www.nabalam.com , a hotel on North Beach.  I had read some online reviews about how great “Maria’s” (name changed for liability!) massages were so I booked her for my husband, Russell.  I didn’t care who did my massage as I don’t have the chronic back pain he does. 

isla7We showed up that morning at Na Balam and Maria came out—all sinewy 95 pounds of her!  She took one look at me and then Russell and bluntly stated, “He’s too big.  I’ve done too many massages this week.”  And so she took me and said to Russell over her shoulder, “You go with her,” nodding in the direction of a stocky Mayan woman.  I felt terrible after I had bragged her up so much to him, the one who really needed a good massage.

We said our goodbyes, me leaving with the tiny massage ninja and he following the Rigoberta Menchu stunt double.  Maria and I entered a small hut near the swimming pool.  After she closed the door, she laid out her protocol, starting with the declarations: “I don’t use a sheet” and “You can take off all your clothes”.  Shocked, I thought to myself, “Jodi, don’t be such a prude!  Go with it.”  But in the end, I left on my bikini bottom.  Thank God.

I lay on the massage table face down and before she began, she proceeded to tell me how man’s two basic instincts were to cry out and to suckle.  I was like—WHAT????? I also thought, “Thank God Russell is not in here with her.”  Once again I decided I might be acting uptight so I went with it.  As she started the massage at certain points she would command me to either cry out or “suckle” (I was to mimic this action in order to relax my jaw), which I did somewhere between crying, laughing, and wetting m pants, or rather my bikini bottom.

I won’t lie, as far as massages go, it was the best ever in regard to muscle stretching but some of the methods were…….different.  Like when I was lying face down, focusing on my crying out and suckling and I realized she was up on the massage table, straddling me and sliding her elbows and forearms up the sides of my spine.  Now remember back to her proclamations about her not using a sheet and me not needing clothes?  Yeah.  Nice.  Thank you, bikini bottom. 

Next I was asked to turn over, “sunny side up”, if you will.  She took my legs, one at a time and raised them past a 90 degree angle and then pushed them across the table (again thank you, bikini bottom).  Odd, yet effective positions continued, accompanied by the crying out and suckling.  When I was completely immersed into my wet-noodle-massage-aura, she put a cloth over my eyes and the smell of something sweet burning filled the hut.  The last thing I remember was her blowing this smoke in my face.

I woke up, not sure how long I was out.  I was alone in the hut, sunny side up on the table.  All I could hear was a Mayan man mowing the grass near the pool (Yikes! Could he see inside the hut during my massage?  He did look like he loved his job….).

I got off the table with a feeling of confusion (and shame?), put the money on the table, dressed and left the hut.  As I walked the path back to the reception area I saw Russell waiting and felt my face turn red as he looked at me.  I wondered how long he had been waiting.  What should I tell him?  I asked how his massage was and he replied with an unenthusiastic “good” and I responded to his same question with “different” and no more. 

100_0039For the rest of the day as we lay on the beach, I slowly revealed to him what went on in that hut—a massage confessional of sorts.  My shame lifted along with his eyebrows, but in the end we were able to laugh about it.  People ask me if I would ever go back to Maria.  You bet!  Who would miss out on a story like that!