The Island of Women
The ‘Isla Mujeres’, the Island of Women, could have been named after the wives of the pirates that frequented the seas and left their women on this safe island, or after the Mayan Goddess Ixchel, who has been worshipped here.
Nowadays, it can refer to the ladies living or the many visiting here, coming from nearby Cancun or from all over the world. so what is there to do on Isla Mujeres? Not much and that is exactly the point.
Not the busy smelly traffic of downtown Cancun, not the mega-clubs, drunk teenagers and inflated prices of the Zona Hotelera. Not even the mega cruise-ships that frequent Isla Cozumel stop on the 8km (5mi) long island that is in places only 100m wide and never wider than 1km (0.6mi).
There are enough souvenir shops to keep you busy for several hours, you can rent a golf-cart to see the Southern part of the Island, but most people just come for the beach. Isla’s North beach (actually starting at the North-West) has white sands (crushed coral) with warm and clear green/blue waters.
Nothing more and nothing less. As long as you are staying in Isla Mujeres Town, you can do everything on foot and if you are very active, you can see all the streets in one day, leaving the rest of your stay to relax!
As we were still on a tight budget, but did not want to camp, I had come into contact with Gladys Galdamez from www.islabudgetrentals.com.
She had some more affordable options, but as they were still too much for us, I proposed to take some photos for her websites and house in exchange for housing and she accepted. So below are a lot of photos, some of which will also be found on her website
Life on the beach on Isla Mujeres
Pictures say more than words:
Running around the Isla with Hector & Veronica
As Isla is only a 20 minute boat ride away from Downtown Cancun, we had invited Hector & Veronica to come over to join us. They joined us on the beach for a while and then did their evening training on the island, one running while the other cycled and coached. I joined them on their other bicycle which was also a good excuse to see more of the Southern part of the island.
Here you go:
A taste of downtown Isla Mujeres
You can board for snorkelling tours, eat ice-cream, pancakes, hummus, pizza or tacos and tortas on the main square. Salesmen will try to sell traditional and less-traditional clothes and handicrafts, while tourists zoom past on the rented golf carts.
In the evening the streets are sparsely lit, the restaurants open and you might hear some nice live music from some of the older inhabitants of Isla Mujeres, a welcome change from the Mariachi-hell (pep-peppe-pep-pep!) of the rest of tourist-Mexico.
More life on a beach
Though I like to swim, I get restless after an hour or so, unlike Ivana, who is perfectly happy floating on her newly-found air-mattress for several hours at a time.
Fortunately our room (my office) all the way on the other side of town was only 10 minutes walking away and there was always an excuse to take another photo.
Here are some:
Old Isla Mujeres & Miss Abuelita
There is not much left of the old fisherman town, where people enjoyed their turtle soup. even though it is low key, tourism had changed everything. Still there are a few original houses to be found, preserved in bright paint.
We were on the island for a festival in honour of one of the popular tourist attractions and endangered species that lives close to the island: the whale shark, a friendly whale-sized shark.
On the last evening the main attraction was presented: the election of Miss Abuelita, roughly translatable as Miss Granny
5 local ladies showed their local dress, evening gowns and their views of life in a heated battle. The jury had a hard time…
Birthday in Cancun and goodbye to the mums…
We invited Hector & Veronica for some tortas on the Palapas Square and started packing.
My mum had brought great new tiny summer sleeping bags from Carinthia. All our winter gear, including our warm Carinthia sleeping bags and down jackets, gloves, boots and several smaller pieces were going with Ivana’s mum to Argentina. We were planning to see them again somewhere around Peru.
It was 20th of July, meaning that it would be my birthday at midnight. we had bought some cakes and some booze and had hired one of the friends of the Quetzal Hostel to mix up some mean mojitos and Pina Coladas to go along with it. It was a nice goodbye to our mums, who had flown halfway across the globe to see us.
We had seen and done a lot in the past 3 weeks. It had not always been easy, we are so used to our own way of life and our mums are not
Also many times it was clear that the cultural differences between the Dutch and Argentinean way of life that had taken Ivana and me more than 3 years to -partly- overcome were very strong between our mums, sometimes leading to stress. But over all it was great to be able to share a part of our adventure and the wonderful world we live on with them and it was sad to say goodbye.
We actually had another vacation ahead of us as my sister and niece were going to land in Belize City in about 8 days to stay with us for 2 weeks. As it was over 500km from Cancun, it was time to pack the bikes again!