Category Archives: Isla Mujeres

Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 18 of 18

March 8th, 2016

Depart Playa Arena Villas on foot for Ferry Dock

Ferry to Cancun

Taxi or Bus to Airport

Airport Home to Ottawa.

*sigh*….we’re home…..it’s actually now March 10th…..

It was crazy windy our last night at Playa Arena in Isla Mujeres….as you know we sleep with the windows open and you could hear the palm leaves rustling all night and the waves a crashin’ 🙂  All rather romantic really – however what wasn’t so romantic was whatever was on the roof unattached and thudding 🙂  Oh well …. it was still paradise and still our last night….take what you need and leave the rest, huh? 🙂  OK!  Up…organize, pack, dispose…..head off for breakfast and of course immediately starts to rain!  We had breakfast down the street from the hotel and it started pouring once we got there.  By the time we were done breakie it had tapered (a little) and we headed back to the hotel for final room once over, brush our teeth and then head to the ferry.  As we were walking along the rain came down even harder and we huddled under an awning until it subsided a little then dashed off to the ferry terminal.  Quick ferry to Cancun, taxi’s waiting….and then the crazy crazy fast fast taxi driver (one of our scarier taxi trips) blasted us toward the airport.  After about 30 harrowing minutes we arrived, checked in effortlessly (no bag checks, just carry on)……went and had lunch at TGIF…..great sever named Antonio who was very helpful in assisting me with my Spanish (even bringing me slips of paper with translations for common phrases)……..munching away on a big ‘ole juicy burger, drinking this amazing gin cocktail with lemon & cucumber…..and in walks a colleague – Candy K from my office….bizarre…….she and her husband sat at next table and we chatted back & forth.  Johnny & I then headed off to wander a bit before the flight which was scheduled to leave early….wandering through the duty free and I run into an old colleague Heather A – I hadn’t seen her in a few years…so it was quite funny.  She had been in Tulum.  OK….plane boards early early, Johnny and I are in front row…. I had booked my seats eons ago but even then couldn’t get side by side…so we were across from each other on the aisle….coincidentally, Heather A actually had the seat beside me….sooo she kindly let Johnny & I use it and she sat in the other seat….strange but true….that the person seated beside me would be someone I knew.  So, here I am on a plane with 3 people I know….then, on walks another familiar face – Eve E from Kanata……oh boy…..and we took off and were told that not only was the flight leaving early, it was flying faster….original scheduled flight arrival in Ottawa 7:40 – our actual arrival time was 7:06 pm…..no checked luggage……first off plane being in row 1 – we were in fact home by 7:40……how is that for awesome!!!

OK…this is the debriefing of our 18 days.  We had a wonderful time and each of our destinations – Puerto, Morelos,. Mexico; Tulum, Mexico, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize; Caye Caulker, Belize and Isla Mujeres, Mexico had something different and special to offer.  One of the reasons we did this trip in this manner was to visit some places we were interested in to see if any of them might be a ‘fit’ for longer visits as we grow older.

Puerto Morelos, Mexico – Total population around 9,000 – most of whom live on the other side of the highway I think.  We stayed on the ocean side.  Great little spot, a few stores, some nice restaurants, a great beach (on one side, not the other)…..I could see myself spending time there because it is only 30 minutes from Cancun – easy access to groceries, malls & whatever you need.  Cancun is huge.  Also, lots of things to do should you have visitors.

Tulum, Mexico – Population around 18,000 – most are in the town which is not on the water.  About a 10 minute cab/car ride to the beach/hotel zone.  So, Tulum beach is beautiful, almost perfect.  Lots of wonderful hotels of all kinds.  Tulum town also has everything you want and need.  For us though….we want the town and the beach to be closer together.  Nearest big cities are Playa del Carmen or Chetumal where you can buy the big stuff are still a ways away.  So…Tulum, a great place to visit for an awesome vacation with lots of things to do, but for us, not a ‘spend more than a week’ type of place.

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize –  San Pedro town’s population around 13,000 – long thinnish town.  Honestly, we enjoyed our time there and exploring different ends of the Island, however San Pedro is very busy.  It has amenities, but not as many as I would like.  You could probably go into Belize City for bigger/more diverse shopping needs.  Not quite as easy being an Island.  Swimming/beaches not good here.  Diving/snorkeling via boats to the roof and the Blue Hole great.  So, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize…a great place to visit, would recommend it, but for us and a longer term venture, not on the list.

Caye Caulker, Belize – Population around 1,300.  Small – friendly – easily walkable.  Not great beaches but a couple of nice swimming spots (one of which is The Split).  Would we visit again – yes…could we imagine wintering there – no, I don’t think so…again, it’s all down to amenities, fresh fruit/vegetables, having to get to mainland Belize or Mexico to do real shopping.  Would we stay for one, two, three or four weeks – yes, I think so…has a really nice vibe.  Would be an awesome place to relax.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico – Population around 12,500.  Very safe & walkable Island 15 minutes by ferry from Cancun.  Nice Beaches.  A great store that sells everything you need (kind of Walmart style) yet close to Cancun for anything you can’t get.  Awesome beaches.  The downtown is definitely touristy which is great when you have visitors.   We liked Isla Mujeres, Mexico and could certainly imagine spending longer periods of time there.  Great off season rates and good airport access to Cancun.

So….we found a couple of places we would enjoy going back to – Caye Caulker & Isla Mujeres.  As always, we start to plan our next trip while still on vacation.  We’re thinking next year it will be Fly to Belize City, going on the south coast of Belize – Dangriga, Hopkins Village, Placencia, then a side trip to Livingston, Guetemala and if possible Lake Atitlan area – ending in the Bay Islands of Honduras.  Only time will tell……..If you are reading this – thanks for sticking with me throughout our 18 days.  It’s now time for us to work off those holidays pounds and start our hiking blogging as the weather here in Ottawa grows warmer!  Adios for now Amigas!! – Johnny & Melva

PS…..Johnny is going to Iceland in April with his Mom for one week and I am going to spend a weekend with my girls in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada while he’s away!

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Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 17 of 18

March 7th, 2016

Accommodation:  Playa Arena Villas, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

At Playa Arena Villas from March 4th to March 8th, 2016

Hola!  Last full day of vacation *sigh sigh sigh sigh*………SIGH!   The day promised to be warm and sunny so we started off after breakfast on a walk.  Not a long walk through, we wanted to make this day mostly about beach/ocean time and dinner out.  We had prepared most of our meals in our wee kitchen in Isla Mujeres, so today was eat out lunch & dinner day!   This morning we decided to go down and look at a couple more hotel prospects for a future visit.  We found a great little one on the east side and they showed us a King suite ocean front room.  Although it didn’t have a kitchen it did have a fridge and they served breakfast.  So..you could do lunch stuff and then go out for dinner.  Loved the place, love the King room with a little sofa/lounge area with awesome views and the greatest terrace with lounge chairs and a BIG TUB on the balcony!  This place is a definite contender for a future trip!  Hmm…wonderful it’s available forever starting tomorrow?

We walked through town and I snapped shots of everything colourful 🙂  Bought a few fridge magnets (we have a fridge magnet collection from our travels) and then headed back to suit up and hit the beach!  We really aren’t sit in the sun people so we used the umbrella, chatted to the couple sitting next to us (from Alberta), took a swim (Johnny took a few swims) and read our books.  Ordered lunch on the beach, had a couple of cocktails and late afternoon headed back to room to relax before dinner.  Tried to have a nap but couldn’t.  Realized that although we had been in the shade most of the time we had both somehow taken in WAY too much sun.  Of course, that tired me out and I felt a bit off but we still headed out for dinner.  The really well rated good restaurants are more in the south end of the Island and we really didn’t feel like cabbing it up there so I found what was one of the better rated down-town restaurants and we ate at Qubano – a Cuban restaurant.  Food was great, but honestly, I was feeling off (just from sun) and we ate our tasty food and headed back to the room where we just watched HBO and had an early night.  So much for the big night out, huh?  It started getting really windy in the evening and it continued all through the night and as you know, I write this the next day (and mix-up my tenses constantly) and I can report is is still window on day 18 of 18….overcast….calling for rain – the perfect day to prepare to leave.  Catch you later……Day 18 of 18 will be from home and will contain a recap and my overall impression of our moving about vacation!!

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Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 15 of 18

March 5, 2016

Accommodation: Playa Arena Villas, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

The Princess and the Pea!  I think I have highly developed senses…touch, taste, smell.  Back in the day I actually had a website devoted to the senses….but I digress 🙂  The beach here is beautiful….that soft white sand……we went for a week walk in it last night…..and alas…..as much as one tries to wash those fine grains of sand away……they cling to you like an um…uhhh…moss 🙂  So…..as much as I appreciate my skin being ex-foliated….not so much when I’m sleeping…..I managed to get fine little grains of sand between my sheets and tossed and turned all night trying to shake them off 🙂

We were both sluggish and still shell shocked from the not so happy with our main floor hotel room forced to use AC room……so….once up and dressed I went to the recepcion (that’s my Spanish)  and asked if there were any upper floors rooms available.  The lovely day clerk did speak English and we were immediately taken to and given the key to an upper unit which although almost identical to our other unit felt 150% better!  We hurriedly threw our things together (we are backpacking so not so many things) and were living in our new room within half an hour!  After unpacking and re-settling we headed off for a walk along the Playa Norte beach toward the east and then wandered through downtown and ended up having breakfast at a little place on the west beach called Miramar – chosen for two reasons…#1 – it served breakfast – #2 – we had eaten there a number of years ago when in Isla Mujeres on a catamaran tour (when staying in Playacar (Playa del Carmen).  Breakfast was lovely – eggs done Mexican style….and then we wandered back to the hotel to get a bit of beach time (stopping for some groceries on the way home).  The weather was hot & humid long enough to catch a few rays on the beach chairs, have a swim and then read a bit.  We could see that the weather in Cancun was NOT nice and eventually it reached us starting with a bit of rain.  We high tailed it back to the room, changed into our walking clothing and headed out into the gray rainy weather.  It was still raining fairly lightly, but a taxi fellow asked us if we needed a ride and we asked him if he could take us on a tour. .  What a great choice!  His name was Freddy and he took us on an awesome tour of the Island.  From the north along the east side up to South point, then back down.  He stopped everywhere we wanted for photo ops, showed us interesting homes, places of interest, even took us to see a place I had seen on some Discovery or HGTV show where a man lives in the Lagoon on a home built on a foundation of plastic bottles….very cool….also a bit scary that there is so much plastic in the world. We  spent almost two hours with Freddy and after paying him and giving him a big hug we headed (in the rain) to a restaurant where we proceeded to have our lunch, cocktails & dinner all at once while watching the rain poor down.  After a couple of hours we were no longer thirsty nor hungry but it was still raining and we were on a pedestrian street so made a break through the river that had formed on the street for our hotel which really wasn’t far away.  So…….it rained a few more hours, we relaxed in our room watching HBO!!  Another day in paradise over.  I actually love rain and it doesn’t bother me one bit that our beach plans have gone awry….more of an opportunity to get to know Isla Mujeres a little better!  We had only been here once before and only on the North End/Downtown.  I hadn’t realized it had hills and cliffs.  It’s beautiful and I can imagine spending more time here 🙂

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This is the house on plastic bottles and built from found things.  Will have to google and get more history.  It’s on a lagoon on the Island. Here is the link.20160305_15093520160305_15100620160305_141634_00120160305_14355020160305_14371720160305_14414020160305_14374020160305_14291820160305_14212820160305_142939

Packing….

I sat down this moment to write a post in hopes it will help me to off load some of the anxiety I’m feeling  as it relates to packing for Saturdays trip.  Writing helps to put things into perspective.  Honestly, even as I type I feel the need to hyperventilate fading away.  Here’s hoping 🙂

I’m a bit OCD/anal and for weeks leading up to a vacation I start to pile things I need for vacation into a tote as I think of them.  I make lists, I download books to my e-reader, etc etc.

OK…..so this year we decided to use a carry on back pack style (for each of us).  We are doing this because once we arrive in Mexico we are spending some time moving from place to place  via bus and water taxi.   After spending a lot of time researching on the net we decided to purchase two Tortuga Travel Backpacks.   They are only available online but once received we were fairly happy with what we got.  Lots of little pockets and security features.  The ability to carry it like a suitcase with back pack straps tucked in.  Not flashy bags so you don’t look like a rich tourist.  Just what we were looking for.

This morning I pulled everything out and started trying to squeeze them all in to my pack. However does one decide what they what to wear before you get there????  We will be on small islands most of the time so I imagine it will be breezy (they are narrow..you can see from one shore to the other).  Looking at the temps, it’s not looking crazy hot and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of humidity.  So…walk clothing, beach clothing, after beach clothing, dinner clothing, tees, tanks, nicer tops, sweater, sundresses, shorts, capris, skort,  sandals, hat, belt….yadda yadda 🙂 undies, socks (we hike a lot)…..

Did I mention, CPAP machine (I have obstructive sleep apnea and it doesn’t count toward carry on, but I don’t want to bring it’s big case, so I’m packing it in my bag….my little laptop (can’t live without a keyboard), e-reader, extra glasses, contac lenses, sunglasses….does the list ever stop?  Nope, it does not – day pack, toiletries, earrings, passports, cash.

OK…this is all this stuff on the table – doesn’t fit in the pack *yet*…….that’s my travel purse on the left….kind of um…tree huggerish…but it’s VERY functional!

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Sure, it looks closed – but the stuff beside it needs to go into it – plus the CPAP and a bathing suit and another tshirt and it needs to be max 22 lbs with a ‘size’ of

Baggage weight allowed according to the class. 
Economy Class Option Plus Club Class
Weight 10 kg (22 lb) 10 kg (22 lb)
Dimensions 23 x 40 x 51 cm (9 x 16 x 20 in) (including wheels and handles)

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It has some nice features…great little zippered things that I don’t have the room to fit anything into 🙂  OH JOY.

 

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Stay tuned for Saturday’s post that tells you whether once fully packed I was actually able to carry this onto the plane or not!

 

Winter Vacation!!

There comes a day in the lives of many Canadians where they either yearn for or discover the WINTER VACATION.  I was in my late teens when I first started going on trips to Florida and Mexico.  For a period of time when I was raising my children and involved in other aspects of life this activity was curtailed.  When my girls were in their teens this blessed (I use the term loosely) activity was resurrected.  Since then we have managed to sneak off to Florida, Mexico (numerous times), Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, British Virgin Islands, St. Martin (twice), Saba and Costa Rica.  Mexico is definitely my ‘go to’ place when looking for a quick get away.  I love Mexico and still haven’t found another country that presents the vitality and beauty this country has to offer.

Pictured below – the reason I travel.  Today is the last day of a 3 day POLAR VORTEX.  A Polar Vortex freezes your nose hairs, hurts your lungs when you breath and the moment you walk outside it makes you feel like you’ve been popped into one of those freeze dry machines.  Over this past weekend our ‘low’ was around -28 c with wind chills between -38 to -40c.  Click here for the real definition of Polar Vortex.

This is the reason Canadians go on Winter Vacation.  This is the reason that Canadians can live happily through daily temps ranging from zero c to -20 c for months at a time because one 3 day weekend of Polar Vortex weather makes ya strong, builds character and generally numbs you into the realization that we shall survive whatever Mother Nature has to offer.

Saturday (Feb 20th, we head off for 17 days in Mexico & Belize.  Heeee Hawwwww!  Let the warmth begin!

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The Adventure Continues!!!

Being Canadian is to get that winter vacation booked so that you have something to daydream about before the snow and frigid cold sets in!  Today my daydreams can begin!  February 20th we head off to Cancun…hop on a bus and spend one night in Puerto Morelos.  From Puerto Morelos we grab another bus and head to Tulum for one night!  After Tulum, we once again board an ADO bus and head to Chetumal where we will take a water taxi/ to Ambergris Caye, Belize!  7 nights in Ambergris Caye, then a water taxi to Caye Caulker, Belize….4 nights there!  Water taxi back to Chetumal, Mexico then bus back to Cancun where we take the Ferry to Isla Mujeres for our last 4 nights!  All the hotels are booked…all have kitchenettes in Belize, fridges in the Mexico hotels, really exciting to take our first bus adventure in Mexico and Belize!

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