Since DH is a teacher, our vacations are limited to the week between Christmas & New Year, the week leading up to Easter or Summer. By the Spring of 09 it was pretty clear that there would be no time for a family vacation during the summer.We simply could not find a week,let alone 2 weeks, where everyone was available.I started to daydream about going somehere warm over the winter holiday.Lets see would I rather run myself ragged buying holiday gifts that noone really NEEDS and fretting over how to divide them evenly between Hannukkah and Christmas,or be lying on a warm,sunny beach over the Holidays. It was a no brainer for me - providing I could find something affordable during this peak vacation week. With two kids in college this had to be a modestly priced trip.
I had been intrigued by Lesfaye's Slow Travel Discussions about Isla Mujeres and began to do some exploring. The exchange rates were good & accomodations were reasonable. Airfares were high for that week,but not outrageous (though we missed out on a GREAT fare because I wasn't ready to committ in June). Best of all, the average Temperature was 82F and the pictures of the Beach were lovely.I found a 2 bedroom apartment on a quiet side street in town for $600.00/wk! The current owner was new, but it was in the same building that Lesfaye had stayed in the previous year and I knew how pleased she was with the location.The apartmnet had just been renovated. All of the restaurants,shops, and cafes were at our doorstep. The Beach was a short 3 block stroll from out apartment.
We were so ready to leave Philadelphia on 12/24/09. Five days earlier our first winter storm had dumped 19" of snow in the city. We were throwing our suitcases over snowbanks on the sidewalk to get them in the car.It was nice to see that all that snow had melted by the time we arrived home on 12/31 (little did we know what the rest of the winter would be like!).
I was not looking for glitz and had no desire to sightsee or visit museums or churches. This was strictly R&R. Isla did not disappoint. A real town with real people it is ,perhaps, a little rough around the edges.Neat little family homes were interspersed with some rundown homes.We walked all over the touristed area,day & night, and never felt unsafe. Locals were sweet and friendly.It is obvious that they like tourists.Food was delicious and incredibly inexpensive.Beaches were clean and beautiful.Our apartment,though basic, was more than adequate to meet our needs.Candelario,the owner, still has some finishing touches which he says will be completed by next year (closets are needed in the bedrooms and the rooftop deck needs to look more like a deck and less like a roof).We enjoyed sharing our rooftop deck with Lesfaye and her husband. It was fun getting to know them!
There was a good mix of locals and tourists sharing this holiday week at the Beach.Among the tourists were many families like us with older college age kids. as well as couples of all ages.There were some larger family groups as well as a good number of retired folks who arrive on 12/26 to spend the winter months.This did not strike me as the type of place that attracts large numbers of rowdy college kids.
Isla has dozens of restaurants, and we enjoyed all of our meals. We were happy to find a couple of Sports Bars where we could keep up with Football Playoffs.There are also dozens of tacky tourists shops whose owners try to lure you inside with 2 for 1 specials. They are not aggresive and easy to ignore. I did not see anything that I would like to bring home,so no shopping for me! I hear that they do have some beautiful silver jewelry.
I am hoping that we will go back to Isla this holiday season. I would like to explore a bit more then we did beyond the tourist center.There are several restaurants we did not get to and more than a few to which we must return. I never tried that massage on the beach and Zama Beach Club is calling me! Over the next day or so I will share some photos/highlights of our trip.