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Published: March 10th 2016
Imagine your days spent swinging in a hammock or laying on the beach under the bright blue sunny skies. Or jumping into crystal clear waters so calm and walm to cool off before returning to your shaded spot under a palm tree. Maybe practicing yoga in the morning, attempting a little slack lining in the afternoon and dancing the night away in the evening; making new friends and finding new favourite songs....
This is exactly how we spent our time here. Almost 2 full weeks!
Isla mujeres is a place where time stops and you almost forget you have other destinations to visit. This is our 5th time (3rd together) on this island and it's still one of our favs. We first enjoyed Isla mujeres as a couple way back in 2008 and visited it every couple years or so between then and now. We can thankfully say not much has changed drastically since our last visit. There is a few more golf buggies and cars on the road than we remember but it's still a very relaxed island. Quite the opposite to the highly touristic Cancun and its large hotels, all you can drink bars and vegas style
Isla Mujeres is an island off the coast of Cancun, home to around 13,000 people. Getting there on the ferry, you cross a unbelievely turquoise and blue stretch of water, crystal clear. Just as we remembered. We excited smiled at each other and instantly felt at ease.
Despite it being off the coast if Cancun it is much less crowded and although a little touristy, the beaches are post card perfect and the vibe is very relaxed. There are some fancy hotels but they don't over impose on the beach - theres enough space for everybody. Saying that there was more free beach space before, but you cannot have it all.
You can hire golf buggies for the day to explore the island and check out the iguana's on the south point, the turtle farm in the middle, zip-lining too, and even a dolphin experience with an all you can eat and drink (including alcohol) buffet included in the price. Surprisingly to most, we never did any of the above on this trip as we had visited them previously, so our time was mostly spent going from the hostel hammocks to the beach and back. After
hectic India and non stop sightseeing in the U.S, relaxation was just what we needed.
Arriving in an overcast Cancun from the U.S, we stayed a couple of nights in a hostel but never bothered to go out in the evening - been there done that, nursed the hangover. We had a rough plan to visit isla mujeres for a few days and then head down the coast of Central America visiting Belize, Guatemala and Costa Rica to name a few.
Sometimes plans don't always turn out as you plan.
What made our experience what it was, was the hostel 'Poc na' and the people we met. The main hostel on the island (feels like the only hostel), right on the beach with an outside area containing a bar on the sand and hammocks surrounded by palm trees. With it being a very social place it didn't take long for us to meet new people and spend some time with them on this small island off the coast of Cancun. We befriended fellow Brits, Europeans, Australians, Kiwis & Americans to name a few. So many people passed through the hostels doors as we briefly got to know
them before it came their time to leave. We spent a lot of time with travelling Welsh couple (Rob & Bethan) and met a Danish guy who was intent on swimming naked with a nurse shark...and he did.
A group of us also who gelled well were also invited to a villa on the beach by Aussie Chris for an 'Aussie style' bbq. He gained the name Bogen bbq from someone in the group and that seemed to stick (a bogen was described to us as a non racist Australian redneck with teeth!) It was a great night as we sat at his lake side location laid back on recliners on the beach under the stars, sipping beer and sharing travel stories.
Over the past 8 years a British guy has been building and living on a man made island made from plastic bottles in a lake. P had paid it a visit many years ago on a previous trip when it was in its infancy. We decided to go check it out with Rob, Bethan and an ex skateboarder called Joshua - a talented plastic moulder with an intense fascination with anything plastic; once dubbed 'the plastic
Richard, the owner of the island gave us a brief insight as to why he built this small plastic bottle island as he ferried us over in a small boat. A very spiritual man (with some 'out of the box' thoughts) whose studied many faiths, explained how an almost forgotten idea he had many years ago came to him in his later years in a time of need.
This is his 3rd attempt at a floating house/island and we must say it was pretty impressive; 3 floors, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen and a guest room. It was small but it was well planned out. Everything was made out of recycled or natural items with shells as shower heads or faucets. He's even grown mangroves and a tree with a very small 'garden' where he grows edible plants. As it is still a work in progress, the house is not fully self sufficient just yet but it does utilise solar panels which are still on the mainland. We enjoyed a really nice chat with him as he went into detail of his alternative vision of the future and how Isla Mujeres is the shape of a pregnant fish.
His heart/fish shaped island is situated right in the 'stomach' of Isla Mujeres.
There were parts that went waaay over our heads as he and Joshua went back and forth hypothesising methods utilising plastic, old satellite dishes and spinning/flying islands. Very bizarre hour that was.
Going back to our original plan - we stayed in Isla mujeres for 4 nights before heading further south back on the mainland to the highly touristy Playa del Carmen. Having been there on previous occasions we were shocked at how much it had developed with a new shopping centre with stores like H&M and mall with other well high street stores. What a ruin. We're not sure if it was the season but the beach and sea of Playa del carmen wasn't how we remembered it. We remembered and had pictures of crystal sea water and the widest far stretching sand beach. Not anymore.
It was no longer the turquoise colour we expected and the beach was covered in seaweed, the sea no longer clear and development everywhere!
At this point we were at a standstill on the trip. We had no real plans from here. We had a
rough plan of moving south but no destinations we had read about that we were set on visiting. We felt lost in our plans. Unprepared even. After a relaxing beach day then a night drinking in our hostel, all the while trying to make plans a brief conversation with another traveller at our hostel sealed it.
We were going to go to South America first and then do central america last. We loved Central America and thought it made a perfect ending to our trip on the beach. Plus the flights were pretty cheap from Cancun to London.
Now, however we needed something new. With a breif mention of how great Colombia was and a growing interest in that country we checked to see whether flights were affordable. They were better than affordable but cheap too with a connection in Miami. We even took advantage of this layover and booked flights seperately to allow us 2 day in Miami. Ha. Things had worked out perfectly. The flexibility and changes in plans when they were possible in times like this felt so good. Still living the life we said to ourselves.
With the flight promptly booked to fly
in a weeks time, we decided to return to Isla Mujeres where we could try to self learn some spanish in a hammock or the beach (no shade on Playa del Carmen beach).
So back at Isla Mujeres (don't know what it is was, that keeps drawing us back here) we downloaded some apps, utilised free websites and attempted to boost our spanish vocabulary. Learning spanish whilst swinging in a hammock...quite enjoyable.
In between self learning and socialising, P took yoga classes every morning, we challenged ourselves with exercise and planned 'work out' schedules. We felt this was necessary as we definitely put some weight on in the states plus is was fun with our own little challenges we had set. Our reward afterwards was jumping in the ocean. It felt soo good.
We even improved our balance walking on the slackline strapped between 2 trees at our hostel. We really felt so relaxed and at ease over the total of 2 weeks here, making up for such a busy couple of past months.
We almost didn't want to leave Isla Mujeres again, we'd actually gotten into a little daily routine. We had not had one
of them for a while. Often we made our own wraps with guacamole to save money and spent time taking leisurely walks, no destination or goal in mind but just took pleasure in being able to do so.
The time was once again upon us to venture out into pastures new and find out if Colombia is really was good (and safe) as most travellers have told us. However one last stop in the sates first. Hasta lluego!
Accommodation: Isla Mujeres; Poc na
Playa del Carmen; The Yak
Transport: Flight - San Francisco to Cancun $167 for 2.
Tot: 0.433s; Tpl: 0.029s; cc: 17; qc: 31; dbt: 0.0104s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb