A day in Paradise at the Island of Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres Travel Blog

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isla mujeres is only about 5miles long, and inhabited by fisherman, divers, and craftsman, who have kept this island a colorful and exciting destination for the wandering tourist. the following is an excerpt from an article explaining how the island got its name:

Isla Mujeres
By Charlie Levine
"I asked a local mate named Javier how Isla Mujeres, which translates to "the island of women," got its name. He put down the ballyhoo he was rigging and told me that local legend left behind two stories. The first Spaniards to visit the small island off CancĂșn, Mexico, found rows of petite statues depicting the female form scattered about the area beaches; thus, the name, Javier said. The second explanation is that when those same settlers arrived, they found only women in the village because all the men were out fishing.

once anchored at the pier, pinching ourselves to see if it was real, we headed to the main building. our snorkel equipment, lockers, towels, unlimited food and drink supply, and ice cream were provided inclusive with our package. this was my first time in waters this warm, this strikingly clear. down to the depths our eyes marveled at the coral reef teeming with life, though my mask kept letting the saltwater into my eyes and it stung terribly! surrounded by schools of fish, in colors of purple, yellow and black, and long silver aquatic spears, our bodies were wipped around by the salty waves, but with help of the fins on our feet, we plowed joyfully through the waters.

hours later, exhausted, we found a lovely spot right on the water at the cafe, where we had the most disgusting cheeseburgers.
i don't believe that in mexico one can find a meat patty made entirely of beef. i remember being told on my trip to puerto vallarta that there are not too many cows in mexico to supply the burger market, hence you get 10% meat and 90%soy/cardboard/rice...whatever will work inexpensively as a substitute. nonetheless, our strength was revived as we journeyed on foot above the water park to the top of the island where the lightower and remains of a tiny mayan temple were located. we ended up walking around for roughly a mile, descending from the light tower above to the ocean below by way of steep cliffs. the photos taken from this part of our trip were some of the most beautiful and stunning photos i have ever taken. highlights were the large iguana we found perched atop one of the cliffs, and seeing the entire island from the light tower.

in the process of walking along the waters and beneath the vicious sun, i got burned so badly that nearly two weeks later i am still peeling. front and back my skin was assaulted, as you will see in the photos.

we had the opportunity to get back on the boat and cruise to the other side of the island, where the village was located. jason and i walked through the main street, littered with tourist souvenir shops - selling everything from the popular "hamacas" to mayan tribal masks made of onyx. past the vendors, past voices filled with desperation to sell a cuban cigar or just a shell necklace, we arrived at the deserted beach and collected some shells, then stumbled back into the delapidated streets, past abandoned buildings and hotels, to a golf car rental station.
how fun! we bumped madly through the strees, photographing the colorful facades of mere shacks, smelling the rich scents of food coming from open doorways, and even cruised the main thoroughfare that is situated right alongside the piers and busy seaside restaurants. we had perhaps under two hours in which to do our exploring, so we raced back to the pier in time to catch our boat, but not before stopping at a corner vendor for two hot tamales. the best tamales under heaven! jason swooned over them for days. everywhere we went following this trip, he was looking for tamales. what we have learned: when traveling in mexico, don't expect culinary wonders at resorts, or any domicile catering to tourists. often, the simple - the local- is best. just corn tortilla, steaming tender chicken with indigenous salsa, a corn husk - presto! often, you get the king's spread in a remote restaurant with no patrons, or with the withered man with the pick up truck and portable grill.

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Isla Mujeres
photo by: Shunya