Friday, July 28, 2017

The blue will leave you breathless

View from Isla towards Manchones Reef and Cancun.  

Giant sea turtles, dolphins, rays, whale sharks, and exotic fish of every description swimming in sapphire-blue water; that’s the main attraction to Isla Mujeres. 

You can swim, snorkel, scuba, or if you are experienced, free-dive like the locals. 

MUSA - Photo from Glass-bottom boat, Cancun webpage



A unique subaquatic site is the MUSA, Museo Subacuático de Arte, an underwater museum situated on Manchones Reef between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. The MUSA was started in 2009 in an attempt to divert divers away from the over-visited natural reefs. The project currently has over 500 concrete statues that were lowered to the ocean floor by ship-mounted cranes.

MUSA Manchones Reef - X-treme Sports photo
The MUSA is within easy diving depths, and reasonable visible to surface snorkelers, or via the glass-bottom boat tours operating out of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. The underwater statues feature unnervingly realistic houses, furniture, cars, pets and people, fabricated out of porous concrete that encourages aquatic plant growth and provides a friendly habitat for a wide assortment of sea creatures and fish. 

Turtle, Punta Sur - Captain Tony Garcia Isla Mujeres photo
Another great diving location is just off Punta Sur, or south point near the Garrafon Natural Reef Park. 

There is usually an abundance of sea turtles and barracudas passing through. A number of our friends drift-dive in this area. 

But watch out for the strong currents!

Diving on a wreck - Sea Hawk Divers, Isla Mujeres photo

Or if you are interested there are ship wrecks to explore. Who knows you may find a galleon from the era of Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba, the Spanish captain who discovered Isla Mujeres in 1517. 

Or perhaps you’ll come across a corsair that could have belonged to pirates such as the Lafitte brothers, Laurens Cornelis Boudewijn de Graaf or Fermin Mundaca.


Beautiful fish - Kara Stansfield photo
Along the eastern side of the island is the Great Maya Barrier Reef, second longest reef in the world. 

It runs right past our house all the way to Belize and is very accessible for scuba diving or snorkeling.

There are a few other secret gems, like the cave of the sleeping sharks and the mysterious hidden cave.

We’re not divers and haven’t seen the caves, so even if we were bribed with muchas cervezas frías or a copa de vino tinto we still couldn’t divulge the locations, but we know a few people who could …..

Group heading out to scuba dive - L Lock photo
Just ask anyone of these folks:

Aqua Adventures: http://diveislamujeres.com/
Squalo Adventures: https://squaloadventures.com/

Hyperbaric chamber located on Isla Mujeres, in Centro
If the worst happens and you experience decompression sickness, the bends, when resurfacing, Isla has its own hyperbaric chamber to help with your recovery. 

Primary used to rehabilitate deep-diving lobster fishermen, it is also used to promote healing of leg ulcers in diabetic patients or speed up the repair of badly fractured bones.

On a humorous side-note, apparently Hollywood A-Listers have discovered the wrinkle-reduction benefits of time spent in a hyperbaric chamber.

So, now you can explore our watery underworld and get a face-lift all in one vacation.

Cheers
Lynda & Lawrie






Have you got yours yet?
Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt. 

$2.99 on Amazon e-books. 
Free downloadable app enables reading on any electronic device.




The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato.  Carmen is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

It ain’t easy!

Another spectacular day on Isla Mujeres.      
It sounds easy; tour around Isla Mujeres on a golf cart. Just point the front end, stomp the gas pedal and off you go.

Caritos de golf aren’t fast and are relatively easy to steer depending on the overall condition of the vehicle. Uneven pavement, unmarked pot holes, or the numerous speed bumps, called topes, can jostle a poorly maintained vehicle around.


Richard and Lawrie - our island vehicle
A typical golf cart is just darn basic. It comes equipped with four wheels, a steering wheel, seats front and back and a one-cylinder seven-horsepower gas engine. 

They don’t have turn signals, brake lights, windshield wipers and of course no seat belts, airbags, or baby seats. In the slightly upgraded models a horn is included and if you are lucky it might actually work. 

Your arms are the turn signals. (Although it seems at times that drivers born after 1980 were never taught how to use hand signals.)


Accident in front of our house
When driving on Isla indicate your movements, lane changes, and direction changes clearly or you will find yourself being driven in a cop car to the police station. There you will pay for the damages to the vehicle that you hit, damages to the vehicle that you were driving, the other persons’ medical bills, your medical bills, and a number of vague traffic ‘fines’ that can mount up to several hundreds of dollars.


Busy streets on Isla Mujeres
The whole process of straightening out your accident can burn up hours and hours of your vacation time.  We know from personal experience after helping other folks deal with the situation. 

And please, don’t think about leaving the island without paying for the damages. You are a long way from home, and Mexican jails won’t win any Trip Advisor Awards for Excellence. 

(Prisoners are not fed, they must make their own arrangements for food and water to be brought in to them.)
Move over - we're coming through!
But the most important accessory on a carito de golf is the rear view mirror.  Make sure your rental vehicle has one, and check it frequently.  Motos, motorcycles and scooters will pass on either side of you. 

Drive as far to the right-hand side of the lane as you safely can because other vehicles will pass on corners, hills or wherever there is a little bit of space. 

For a taxi driver time is money. If you are hogging the lane the taxi drivers will become impatient and pass you, expecting you to move over and make room for their vehicle to squeeze by.


Vacationers - let's go to Isla and rent a golf cart!
During the year when families are on vacations watch out for young children steering a golf cart. 

It’s illegal, but for some reason folks think that the streets on Isla are quiet little country lanes with a few golf carts puttering along, and that it’s a cute idea to teach a youngster how to aim a vehicle on a busy road. 

Look again folks. There are ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, propane trucks, or tractor-trailer units, over a thousand rental golf carts, plus hundreds of taxis, motorcycles and bicycles all vying for limited road space. 

There is no 'slow season' on Isla anymore. 
Another challenge of driving on Isla is the abundance of drivers posing for ‘selfies,’ weaving back and forth in the lane as they try for the perfect shot of themselves and friends. 

Add a few cervezas and margaritas and later in the afternoon we hear the ambulances whizzing past our house, responding to yet another accident involving golf carts and motos, or golf carts and taxis, or golf carts and pedestrians.


Watch out for unmarked hazards.
One of our island-born friends, recently lamented, “They think they are in Disneyland when they come to Isla.” 

Enjoy your visit to the island, and don’t become one of the accident statistics. 

It’s not the way to finish up your vacation in paradise.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie






~

Treasure Isla
Have you got yours yet?



Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.  
$2.99 USD on Amazon ebooks.

https://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Isla-Caribbean-adventure-Mujeres-ebook/


The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato. She is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco. 


Friday, July 14, 2017

Accurate weather forecasting, island-style

Good morning from Isla - what's the weather today?  

Our weather forecast for the next ten days is a chance of a thunderstorm, with temperatures ranging from 31 degrees Celsius to 36 degrees Celsius.  That’s hot! 

And maybe it will be true, and maybe it won’t.

We’ll let you know at the end of the ten days.


Photo taken from internet news - summer snow storm in BC

Being Canadians we are totally obsessed with weather. In Canada the conditions can vary tremendously in one day from hot and sunny to downright cold with snow and ice, but hopefully not in the months of June, July, August, September or October. Although driving through the high-mountain passes of British Columbia in August we have experienced snow. Not our idea of a fun summertime road-trip!


Getting wet - but the sun was back in 15 minutes
Here on Isla we still compulsively check two different internet weather sites. I like Intellicast and Lawrie prefers Weather Underground. Other island friends use Windguru, or Accuweather, plus a relatively new one called WeatherSpark. May to October we both also check NOAA, the American based National Weather Service for potential tropical storms.

The strange thing is the forecasts are only about 50% accurate, even with the satellite images and computer modeling. The forecast might be for a chance of thundershowers with the possibility of 117mm of rain, about 4.5 inches, but we’ll have a hot sunny day with absolutely no rain.

Looking from Isla towards the storm over Cancun

If we happen to look towards Cancun, a few miles to the west, they likely will be experiencing the forecasted rain. 

Now that’s the very odd thing, because there are no mountains in the state of Quintana Roo. It is a relatively flat piece of land with the highest point in the entire state being located in the south-western region, and rising a grand total of 230 meters above sea level, or about 750 feet. 

There is nothing very tall in the entire state to ‘snag’ the clouds to hold them over the city, yet Cancun seems to get more rain than Isla.

Showers headed our way
Over time Lawrie and I have become amateur weather forecasters. We look towards the ocean; if the clouds are dark and the horizon is hazy we have ten minutes to shut windows and pull in outdoor cushions. 

Then twenty minutes later we open windows and put out the cushions. It’s a tough life!  

When making your vacation plans don’t be put off by the forecast of grumpy weather. It may or may not be accurate.

Sign that was near the naval base - haven't seen it recently.
There was for a very short time a humorous sign, complete with a large stone suspended from a rope, posted near the Isla Mujeres Quinta Region Naval base. 

It pretty much summed up weather forecasting on Isla Mujeres. 

The stone is wet: it’s raining.  The stone is dry: it’s not raining.  The stone is swinging: it’s windy. The stone is still: it’s not windy. There is no stone: it’s blowing a hurricane. There are two stones: you’re drunk.

The morale of the story, you’ll know what the weather is going to be when it is happening.

Hasta Luego from paradise
Lynda & Lawrie



Treasure Isla
Have you got yours yet?


Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt. 

~

The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato. She is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco. 


Friday, July 7, 2017

Enjoying yummy baked goods on a white sand beach - paradise

Alicia at Art Fair - yummy goodies
“Banana bread, my favourite!  No, wait, apple pie, that’s my favourite.” I say pointing at the display case at Cafeteando Coffee and Bread. 

Formerly located on Hidalgo Avenue, Alicia Giorello has recently re-located her bakery to the Palapa Leidy on Playa Norte in front of the IxChel condos.  It’s an excellent place to enjoy a freshly baked treat and to people-watch.

We got hooked on Alicia Giorello’s baked goodies at the weekly Isla Mujeres Art Fairs that take place in the winter season. We usually sell a stack of my children’s book at the fair, The Adventures of Thomas the Cat / Las Aventuras de Tomas el Gato, and my display space was frequently beside Alicia and her baked goodies.


Sparky & I at Art Fair selling books
In the beginning we had willpower, but over time, week after week, our resolve eroded and we were hooked. Every Thursday night a container holding two personal-sized loaves of banana bread or two individual apple pies would be carefully placed in the golf cart, to be enjoyed later on our upper deck. Wine and apple pie, or banana bread and beer. Yum!

Born in Argentina, Alicia Giorello moved with her two small children from Buenos Aires to Mexico twenty-seven years ago. She has worked and lived in several cities including Mexico City, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Puebla and Acapulco before moving to Isla Mujeres.


Empanadas
Alicia said, when she was younger, she primarily worked as a waitress but she was also an ede con. If I understood her explanation correctly that is what we would call a beer-babe; the scantly-clad hot-looking young women who supply the sizzle for marketing guy-stuff like beer, cars, motorcycles and boats. She laughed, adding she was an ede con a long time ago when she was much younger.

Seventeen years ago while living in Mexico City she met Daniel Garnica who was working at the school where her teen-aged daughter attended classes. Once her children were grown and away from home she and Daniel moved to Isla Mujeres in 2012 to start a new life. 

Alicia spent the first two years on Isla Mujeres managing different restaurants; the Argentinian Grill on Hidalgo, Roosters Deli, and Roosters on the Go. Then she opened her original Cafeteando Coffee and Bread location on Hidalgo Avenue. Besides the apple pies, banana bread, and brownies Alicia makes Argentinian empanadas using her grandmother’s special recipe. She also offers smoothies, frapes and coffee drinks.

Daniel, Jeff, Rhett,and Yoyo at Art Fair
Alicia’s partner, Daniel Garnica, is equally well-known as one of the behind the scenes guys at Isla Brewing Company – Cerveza Isla. The island microbrewery, owned by the personable Jeff McGahee and his enchanting wife Rhett, dispenses hand-crafted ales to the thirsty crowds attending the wintertime Art Fairs. 

That’s another one of our weaknesses, micro-brewed ales. In a perfect world the spent grain from the beer could be made into fabulous wholesome breads by Alicia. Hmmm, maybe we should suggest that to her the next time we are craving a slice of her delicious banana bread.


The view from Cafeteando Coffee and Bread


If you are wandering around the island, take a few minutes to explore Cafeteando Coffee and Bread, located inside the big palapa on North Beach at the end of Hidalgo Avenue. You just might get hooked on Alicia’s baked goodies.



Apple Pie and Chocolate Pie






Just leave some for us!

Hasta Luego 
Lynda & Lawrie










~



Have you got yours yet?
$2.99 USD on Amazon e-books

Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.


* The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato. She is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco as well as Awakening MacBeth, and The Hidden Light of Mexico City, and The Insider's Guide to the Best of Mexico.  Thank you so much Carmen for your assistance. 

The most recent in the series! Great read.