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Ship's Log: Updated July 20, 2007

Staying in Isla Mujeres For a While

The living here is easy, the water is clear, and the weather is wonderful. Why be in such a rush to leave? Exactly.

So we've decided to stay put here through the season (hurricane, that is). We found a new marina inside Laguna Makax, a very protected little lagoon south of our current marina. Villa Vera has new floating concrete docks and huge, solid pilings. The marina is co-located with a luxury resort surrounded by lovely manicured grounds, and there is a big free-form pool with swim-up bar, grass tennis courts, a posh restaurant, etc., all of which we are entitled to use while we are marina customers. But, the water at the docks isn't very clear, and there isn't much breeze (because it's all so protected, right?).

So, like many folks did with Homeport, our marina in Gulf Shores, we've paid for a slip for September and October, traditionally the busiest storm months in the western Caribbean, but we'll stay here at Marina Paraiso unless a storm looks likely to hit the area. If the weather starts looking scary, we'll move the boat to the sheltered marina. We are calling this our "insurance plan."

Also, it has been really stormy down Panama way for weeks on end, as the Weather Channel satellite shows us every time we look at it.

We haven't seen a good weather window for getting in down there at this point, and the later it gets in the season, the more we want to stay put rather than be out on an 800 mile crossing, with no really good places to put in until Panama. Islas Providencia and San Andreas (Columbian territory) are about the only inhabited offshore stopping points, and they are a really long way off. Why not just hop down the coast the whole way, you ask? A number of reasons, primarily the contrary winds and currents, and the very real threat of piracy along the Honduran and Nicaraguan coasts.

So, fingers crossed for good weather to continue--we have had absolutely flawless weather here since we arrived.

A Typical Day on Isla Mujeres

This is very much the off season for Isla and things are pretty mellow, though there are some tourist crowds from Cancun, especially on weekends. We like the quiet. We have been riding our bikes around the island almost every morning, a good hour-long ride, early, before it gets too hot. And we've been doing some boat chores, but honestly, in this heat, we are not overly ambitious. The day fills easily with our bikes rides, swimming and snorkeling, dinghy rides, dog walks, and trips to the main town to buy fresh fruits and veggies at the local fresh market, and other staples at the grocery stores.

Wikipedia has some information and additional links about Isla Mujeres, if you're interested in learning more about the island.

There is a small Mayan ruin, Ixchel, at the south end of the island. The cliff top leading to Ixchel is now dotted with modern metal sculptures. Paths wind among them and down along the cliff sides. It's a lovely walk.

On our bike ride along the west side of the island we pass a developed beach with many tourist attractions, including a zip line. The Magnificent Frigatebirds strung along the wire seem to like the quiet season. Cancun can be seen in the distance. Doesn't that water color just make you want to go swimming?

We took the ferry to Cancun last Friday and again on Monday, to extend our visas for the hurricane season. Getting the extension was more complicated than getting the initial thirty day visa, but eventually we were granted an extension until December 18th, a six month visa, the longest tourist visa they allow. The next picture, taken on the Cancun-Isla Mujeres ferry, shows the island receding, and the next one is of the Cancun ferry dock.

A Wreck, Probably from Cuban Refugees

On our bike ride Tuesday morning we discovered this boat wrecked upon the eastern shore. It was at the bottom of a steep cliff and being heavily pounded by the surf. There was debris strewn on the shoreline, and though there were lots of fresh footprints in the sand, no people were in sight.

From what we could see, the boat was just sheet metal riveted together, and the engine inside the boat seemed to be a car engine. The rudder had snapped off, and there was a fuel can dangling from the side. The only thing that makes sense is that it was a refugee boat from Cuba. We can only assume that they made it safely ashore.

You may recall that our initial clearing-in here was delayed because the Immigration authorities were tied up with two boatloads of Cuban refugees, caught just offshore the morning we arrived. Apparently Cuban refugees are a big problem for Isla, because Isla is the nearest land to Cuba other than the United States. We are glad they let us in legally, as it really is a wonderful place.

A Dog's Life in Paradise

Gellie has no idea how good she has it! She is with us almost full time, we take her for walks many times a day, she goes for dinghy rides whenever we do, and she has resident cats and iguanas she can molest. We had been letting her off her leash a lot, but she got a little too headstrong, going into the neighboring apartments uninvited, and refusing to come when called, so she is now back on leash full time until she learns how to behave. She is very strong-willed! (I wonder where she got that from?)

While off leash one day, she came back to the boat with a swollen nose. Bee sting or scorpion, we guess. She's fine now.

She's still afraid to go swimming, but she will splash around on the beach up to her chest, and even lie down in the water up to her chin. When we rinse her off, or when it's hot, she really likes getting a cool-down spray with the hose, and she tries to "chew" the water coming out of the hose to get a drink. It's quite amusing


This mystery fruit bought recently at the local market has been identified as a Dragon fruit, or pitaya. Thanks, Jim Davis, for researching it and letting us know! Wikipedia also has this additional info about the Pitaya.

When cut open, the flesh inside is white with tiny black seeds. It's very mild tasting, slightly sweet, and the seeds are slightly tart. It tastes best cold, with a squeeze of lime.

We also enjoyed a delightful sunset and dinner on Sharon's birthday at Villa Rolandi. Our neighbor Mike accompanied us and took this picture.

Not a bad place to start enjoying our second half-century!

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