Island of the Ladies... or perhaps of the Shopping Spree!
Isla Mujeres Travel Blog› entry 14 of 21 › view all entries
From Piste we travelled second class to Cancun, which took much longer than we thought it would. I mention the second class because in comparison to the luxury I'd been used to, this bus although comfortable was much more squishy. I amuse myself writing this because of the chicken buses else where in Central America... I do almost feel like... how dare I complain because by comparison I was spoilt by our transport options. Anyway, we arrived in Cancun a bit after lunchtime and decided to get a taxi to the Hotel Las Palmas - we thought a taxi would be easier. Sadly as is often the case, the taxi driver had no idea where he was going, so we drove around and around as he asked various people for directions, while poor Al tried to point out the street on our mildly helpful guidebook mini map.
Hotel Las Palmas has dorm rooms as well as a hotel section, but the cost for us to share wasn't terrible and having your own room is always nice. The room... was massive, with double beds and an incredibly huge bathroom. We also had aircon and cable tv. Considering we were only using Cancun as a pit stop, this was more than adequate. Yes, no fancy hotels, restaurants or beaches for us on this occasion. In fact we took it easy, checked emails and bought rolls etc to take back to the hotel room for dinner. The following morning we caught a cab to the port so that we could get a ferry across to Isla Mujeres, which we'd heard good things about.
We stayed at the Pac na hostel, which was highly rated - you get a free drink coupon on arrival as there is a bar onsite and a basic breakfast. Once we'd dumped our stuff in the dorm room we went for a walk around town, stumbling across the coolest craft shop! We spent ages wondering around checking out all the crafts, most of it made out of metal in to various sea life and other creatures. We loved it so much that we all ended up with purchases on hold, Al and Maree mini turtle wall hangings and geckos, me... well... I have mentioned my love of carrying large items cross continents - this day would be no different. Not forgetting I already had purchased a ceramic Mayan mask, now I had a large metal turtle wall hanging and some other knickknacks - oh I do like a challenge.
Once our purchases were put away - we needed to draw money to actually pay for them - we went for lunch along the main road running parallel to the beach, where we stopped at this little cafe overlooking the sea. I'd been dying for a mango daiquiri since my strawberry one in Flores, and got one at this cafe which was yummy. I also ate the most amazing veggie paella - probably the best I've had since Barcelona in 2003!
After lunch we headed back to the shops. On the way Al started to enquire after diving options, and well Maree and me just plan got caught up in the excitement of potentially going diving again. In the end we ended up booking two dives for the following afternoon at the Carey Dive Centre. After picking up our purchases we ended our evening with an ice-cream dinner and cocktails at the hostel after a free magic show - which Maree participated in twice and I signed a playing card (an important role.
It rained all night, and we woke up to to an overcast day that was threatening to rain some more. So, after breakfast we went past the dive shop just to check that the dive was still going ahead, and our ever friendly dive master - Roberto assured us with confidence that the weather would hold out and it was still good to dive.
As we had the morning free we decided to head out to the turtle sanctuary, but seeing as we only had a couple of hours to get there and back (it was on the other side of the island) I suggested we hire a golf buggy - popular on the islands we'd been to so far. Hiring the golf buggy for a couple of hours turned out to be not much more expensive than hiring bikes, so we beetled off across the island at speeds of erm a 100 year old lightening.
The sanctuary wasn't very big, but had turtles of all sizes and various kinds of fishes in tanks. While we were wondering around the sanctuary the skies opened and poured down buckets and buckets of rain. We decided to wait it out as the golf buggy was open to the elements. Luckily we didn't have too long as it was only really a quick down pour. On the way back Maree - our unlicensed driver - drove first, followed by me - who hadn't been behind a wheel in over 4 years.... but hey... going at 30km/hr there really wasn't too much damage we could do.
We returned the golf buggy and went past the hostel to collect anything that we wanted for the dive that afternoon.
Our sea entry was not our usual step off, but a backwards entry, i.e. falling backwards off the boat - which wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. I must say we saw an incredible amount of fish on our first dive, swam through massive schools of fish as we drifted along with the current.
The following morning we left to get the ferry back to Cancun as the weather was pretty rubbish. We stayed another night at the Hotel Las Palmas, but this time the room was more pokey. We needed to sort out a few last minute things for Cuba, such as getting Euros to exchange in to Cuban currency - which you can only do in Cuba. We were told Euros gave you the best exchange rate, and seeing Cuba is not a cheap country to travel through we wanted to get the best exchange rate we could.