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Vacation Journal
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Isla Al and Marylee's July 2000 Trip Report

By: Isla Al
Date: 8/2/2000

Isla Al and Maryleeís July 2000 Trip Report

Friday, July 28, 2000

Left Austin at 5:30am to get to the San Antonio airport for our flight to our short, four day Isla getaway. After our plane was delayed for an unknown reason, we finally arrived to Cancun 35 minutes later than scheduled. To our amazement, the immigration line area was packed beyond our belief. We have never in our travels to the Cancun airport seen anything like this. Every line was open and every line was packed all the way back literally to the windows. The line even extended up the ramp! We managed to work our way through the grumpy, Cancun bound travelers and made our way to the farthest line to the back wall. Luckily this was the fastest line. We could see through the windows to the baggage claim area and could see all the bags piling up with no one to claim them. It is our experience to pack as light as possible. We had three, small carryon bags with all of our stuff, easy on and easy off. We made plans to share a cab with friends of ours from Plano, Texas. They were so kind to wait for us, even though we were late. We grabbed a cold cerveza and off we were to Puerto Juarez. Arrived on Isla and headed to our hotel. Our tradition is to have the cab stop at the Super Betino to fill up our collapsible cooler with a 12 pack of Dos Equis y hielo. We were surprised when our cab driver told us that Super Betino was closed. The reason for the closure was due to renovations, but what business closes to renovate in Mexico? We stopped at the Liquoria and filled up our cooler and off we went to our hotel. Raul greeted us at the Hotel Playa Media Luna and saved us our favorite room, #13. The sound of waves crashing against the reef & rocks and the wind blowing through the palm tree leaves is such a great calming feeling. We rented our moped from the hotel and off we were to Playa Norte to meet our friends. We stopped to say hi to Sergio at Buhoís and plopped down into beach chairs to enjoy the remainder of sunlight on day one of our Isla vacation. After an hour of absorbing some rays, the heat began to take its toll. The cool, clear blue water and ice cold beers really helped us cool off on this hot July Isla day. Lupita our favorite beach waitress served us guacamole & hot sauce and as always, it just doesnít get any better than this. Our friends, Jeff & Karen along with Sergio & Charrissa made plans to meet at Arribbas for dinner. We tried the Shrimp Cocktail and Chicken Tempura since our dinner companions recommended it, and the meal was wonderful. The shrimp cocktail had at least 10 very large shrimp for 50 pesos! We drank a few beers after dinner and were amazed to see the dinner bill was only $45 USD for six people. Rockiní. We were exhausted and headed back to the hotel after dinner. We opened the window at the hotel, so we could hear the sound of the waves crashing and faded off into dreamland.

Saturday, July 29, 2000

We opened our eyes to the sight of the sun rising over the Caribbean. For those of you who do not know, the hotel faces East. If you need one reason to stay at the Hotel Playa Media Luna, this has got to be it. The sun rising literally woke us up everyday there. We went downstairs to get coffee so we could enjoy the view from balcony. We got ready for our first full day on the island and headed off to Cafecito where breakfast consisted of a waffle con helado y huevos mexicanos with a bowl of fresh fruit on the side. We visited with Ziggy and Luis and read the Por Esto. Since May 2000, the biggest changes that we noticed aside from the continuing construction across from Kokonuts was the removal of the little decks from Rolandiís and Bucaneros. The tables are now street level. Off we were to Playa Norte to enjoy another day in paradise. The weather was gorgeous all day long . You could see rain clouds on the mainland, but they never seemed to make it to Isla, no complaints there. Lunch called for Za Hil Ha with our friends. After lunch it was back to the beach for more fun in the sun. The sunset that evening was spectacular. Back to the moped it was time to head to the Posada del Mar bar for one of Romi the bartenderís famous strawberry banana daiquiris, potent stuff they are. Romi has always been one of our favorite Islenos just an all around genuine guy. He even played the South Texas national anthem for us - "Hey Baby Que Paso" by the Texas Tornados. YEE Ha!! Needless to say we got back to the room later than expected due to the power going out at the Posada. Drinking in the dark really is quite an experience. Showered and ready to go, Rolandiís got the nod that night. We always find that when we sit close to the street at Rolandiís we get to see a lot of our Isleno friends. We ordered the ensalda mixta and the lasagna, Heaven on Earth, delicioso. That evening our musician friends, Miguel and his son Sebastian, were playing at Danielís this time. In May, we reported they were at Tequila Sol. We dropped off some guitar strings and pictures of our last trip when their dad got on stage to jam. They thanked us for the gifts and off we were to cruise the island at night on our trusty little moped. One of our favorite spots is the laguna past the naval base to the right. At night itís a nice calm place. There is a sidewalk with a stone wall you can sit on and just lookout towards the water and imagine how many ships have used this place throughout the years.

Sunday, July 30, 2000

Hello Sunrise! Why is it at home we canít even wake up to an alarm clock and in Isla we can wake up with the sun? Originally we had planned to go fishing early in the morning with Captain Tony, however he had a family emergency and had to go to Cancun. For those of you who do not know Captain Tony, he is a wonderful guide for fishing and snorkeling. He owns Guadalupana Tours on Calle Matamoros, #7-A. His sign proudly proclaims $10 USD for snorkeling. We decided to go for a ride. Sunday is family day on Isla and a lot of places are closed. The town has a real sleepy feel to it. Breakfast called for Bucaneros and it was amazing the remolding work that is being done. We enjoyed reading the Por Esto with our huevos mexicanos con tocino, coffee, toast and tortillas - $8 USD. We decided to go to the turtle farm, because the turtles are nesting and the farm had a lot of baby turtles. We could not believe how many little baby turtles we saw! The size of baby turtles were smaller than palm of your hand. We watched the turtles for awhile and then we took another tour around the island. We always like to stop and look at Garrafon and Punta Sur. We decided to stop by our friends, Jeff and Karenís apartment. We hung out and then we decided to check back with Captain Tony. He said the fishing would be better if we went out at 3:00pm, so we told him letís do it. We went back to the room and hung out on the beautiful balcony. Lunch was at La Mexicana Rotisserie. For $55 pesos you get a whole chicken, spaghetti, rice, beans, a stack of tortillas and a large 2 liter soft drink. We like to take this to the beach, but today we were going fishing and we decided to eat it there. After lunch we filled up the cooler with Dos Equis, agua and hielo and we met Captain Tony at his boat. Fishing was incredible. Captain Tony dropped two lines into the water and we asked him what we were fishing for today and he said barracuda. We waited about 5 minutes and both of the lines hit. We each pulled in two good sized barracudas. They are very menacing looking creatures with their wandering eyes and their jagged teeth. We fished about two and a half hours and then we decided to go snorkeling. We went to the farito and jumped in. Weíve always snorkeled this spot and for some reason they were more fish than normal. It could have been that no one was there and it was about 6:00pm Sunday. We reached shore and the Barracuda count was 12! We had two monstrous ones, one weighed 11 kilos and the other 10 kilos. A crowd gathered when we unloaded the fish. Captain Tonyís Dad greeted us with a big smile and he immediately started to filet the fish. We gave him the fish and off we went. Earlier in the day we had discussed barbecuing at night at our friends who have apartments on the island. We would eat and then go looking for nesting turtles. Our friends, Jeff & Karen and Sergio & Charrissa were very generous and treated us to a dinner that included Red Snapper, Carnitas, guacamole, potatoes and steak. It was a welcome to the island kind of thing. About 12 midnight we made a B line to the southeastern side of the island. We were told that the turtles had been nesting there all week long. Turtle watching is a real hit or miss. Tonight it was a hit and immediately when we arrived at the hot spot we saw about 5 Islenos with a few policias all staring down at the beach. There was a giant turtle about as wide and long as a Volkswagen Beetle digging her nest. Our friends had an infrared video camera and you could see the turtle kicking the sand up with her flippers. About an hour or so passed by and the policia along with a turtle farm employee scooped up the eggs to take them to the turtle farm. The turtle then very, very slowly made her way back to the ocean. Watching turtles nest is a very important thing on Isla since they are endangered. The Mexican Navy was even there to make sure that no one tried to steal the turtle eggs or interrupt the turtle in any way. We drove down a little further and found another turtle nesting. We went back to notify the Navy and we had all decided since it was 3:30am one turtle nesting tonight was enough. It was one of the most special moments that we have ever encountered on Isla.

Monday, July 31, 2000

Once again the sun woke us up. Today was our last day and also was Maryleeís Birthday. We wanted to get a lot of pictures of the turtle nesting areas from the night before. Off we went and arrived at the beach, we climbed down the cliff and no one was around. The turtles usually nest at night when the beach is barren. We walked closer to the nesting area that the turtle laid her eggs the night before and we could not believe it when we found one turtle egg on the beach by the water! We were shocked and did not know what to do at first since the turtles are so protected. We decided to take the egg to the turtle farm. As we reached the top of the cliff three older Islenos greeted us and we asked what they were doing they said they were looking for turtle eggs. The eggs they wanted were not to save, but to eat so we took off as quick as we could without being too obvious. Turtle eggs are a delicacy around here. As we arrived at the farm we gave the egg to a young employee and made sure he buried the egg in the incubating pen. The thought of saving that little turtle was the best birthday gift Marylee had said I had given to her. We cruised back into town and saw a few friends and told them our story. No one could believe it. Breakfast was Cafecito for waffles con helado and a bowl of fresh fruit. Shopping and good-byes followed breakfast and off to the airport we went.

Our Isla trip was short compared to the eight days we stayed in May, but we had a great time and we saw a lot of our friends. We are already planning our next trip later this year.

Alex and Marylee
Austin, Texas

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