Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico – 23rd June 2021
I find a nearby lauderette that has self service machines. A lot of Lavanderia here are service only, i.e. you drop your washing off, they do it all for you and you collect next day. Unfortunately I don’t have time to do that as I will be leaving for the airport at around 6am tomorrow. The lavanderia is huge and there must be 20 or so machines, both washers and dryers, I wander around looking for a suitable machine for my few things when I am approached by a man who is obviously in charge. He says something to me that I took to mean did I was service so I sort of gesture that I will do it myself. He then walks off and indicates a machine for me to use, there is no debate I am to use this machine. He opens the door and gestures for me to put my washing in whilst asking if I require ‘soap’, Sí Por Favor. While he is gone I fill the machine. He returns with the washing powder and fills the dispenser. I have my wallet out looking for coins to put in the machine, but he waves his hand and says “You pay after” and, rather brusquely, “20 minute”. When I parked up I spotted a coffee shop/restaurant next door so make my way there to wait for the washing to finish.
Gosh, this place is popular. There are no free seats inside so am directed to a table outside. It is very warm out here, but it’s only going to be 20 minutes so never mind. I order a large coffee and some Seasonal Fruits with Yoghurt and Granola. By the time the 20 minutes is up my order still has not come so I think I’d better put my washing into a dryer. I tell the waiter that I will be back in a few minutes, pointing and saying ‘lavanderia’, he nods knowingly.
Back in the laundry and my machine is still churning, slowly, one way and then the other so I think it is going to spin any second… after about 2 minutes of this it suddenly starts filling again, oh so it is still on a rinse cycle.. mmm so much for 20 minutes. Ok I’d better go back as I don’t want my food out on the table getting fly speckled. I look through the glass and can see a free table inside to gesture to the waiter if it is ok for me to move.. he say “Yes” and no sooner have I sat down than my food and coffee arrives. The coffee is in a very tall glass mug and he pours the hot milk from a height to create a foam.. very good. The food looks and is absolutely delish, just the thing for a hot morning.
After 10 minutes I quickly pop round to the Lavanderia and transfer my washing into a dryer. It’s a woman who takes charge this time and she doesn’t speak any English but holds up one finger so I just nod, not really knowing what she means. She puts a token in the machine and it shows 15 minutes, she points at this and nods, then starts the machine. Ok so I should have time to eat the rest of my breakfast, good.
When it’s time to go back again I still haven’t finished my coffee so plan to return again. As it happens not all of my washing is dry so I lift my finger and say to the woman, “Uno mas, por favor” one more, she nods and comes over with another token. Back to the cafe where I finish my coffee and by the time I return the dryer has finished and everything is done.
I go back to the accommodation and decide on the way that I will visit Isla Mujeres which is just off the coast of Cancún. There are several ferries, only one of which is a car ferry, however it is a very small island so I elect to go as a foot passenger. I see Sergio in the kitchen who asks me what I am doing today, when I tell him he says ah yes the Island of the Women.. “Oh!”, says I, “well I definitely need to go there then”.
Before I go I grab the opportunity for a couple of photos.. here are the lovely Mercedes and Sergio
Thank you so much for making me feel at home and for all your kindness.
There is plenty of parking at the ferry and I get parked all day for just 50 pesos, which I think is a bargain. The return ticket is also very cheap at 380 pesos so the whole cost, including parking, is just £15.62. There is already a boat due to leave in 10 minutes so I can get straight on board. There are no seats without having to sit between people, no social distancing here. I decide to stand by the side rail, it’s only a 20 minute journey after all. There is a lower deck, mid deck and an upper outside deck, I opt for the middle deck where, suddenly, a guy with an electric guitar starts singing and a group of young women, obviously on a hen trip, begin enthusiastically singing and dancing along too.. looks like someone is going to be having a whale of a time. They suddenly join me on the rail and are taking photos, of themselves of course not the scenery!
I take photos of the scenery of course…
We soon dock and disgorge from the boat… out of the ferry terminal and the whole road is full of ‘golf carts’, I mean there are strings of them trundling up and down the road. I think to myself, maybe I should investigate getting one as I only have a few hours here now having spent the entire morning d’hobi-ing. The Main Street is littered with cart hire places, so I look it up on google and one particular rental place gets excellent reviews. I look at their website and guess what, they also hire out scooters.. righto that’s decided. I see I can book directly on the website so I choose to book from 3pm to 7pm, that should be plenty methinks. The cost is $21 US, very reasonable, but when I go to shopping cart it is showing as two separate $21 charges, a total of $42.. then I notice the actual rental place is only 20 metres away so I walk over and go in. I ask to make a booking and the man says I can book for an hour or all day i.e. 8 hours. I say “oh I just want it for 4 hours”, “so you will have to pay for all day”.. “but, on your website, it allows booking by the hour”, “No, if you want it then it is an hour or all day that is all”. I decide on the spot that I will pay the all day charge, it is equivalent to $42, but means I can have it for longer if I want it. I sign the paperwork.. no mention of damage waivers or any other additional charges so that’s a relief. I then go outside and am given a Honda mode, the same as I have in Gibraltar. I start by taking an all around video of the bike.. there’s loads of damage so I don’t want to get the blame
The man opens the seat and takes out two helmets, they are little shorties that almost everyone, who wears a helmet at all, uses here. He gives me one and puts the other back under the seat.. oh I don’t need that one it’s just me. He says I must take it.. really?? I want to use under the seat for my things so am not best pleased by this.. he then takes the helmet away, good! I try the helmet, it is way too big. “This is too big do you have a small one?” “No, all same size”! He then proceeds to start to show me how to operate the scooter, I tell him it’s ok I have one of these at home, he doesn’t seem to believe me and carries on, so I say again it’s fine I know what I’m doing. He checks if I am sure and still seems a little disbelieving so I hop on, start the bike and ride off.
I am only 50m up the road and am not at all happy, the front seems very twitchy and the brakes are spongy! I am inclined to return it, but in the end decide I will just take it easy. It is now extremely hot, the sun is beating down and on top of that the wind is burning my skin. I realise that I stupidly have not put on any sun lotion at all… really Pogs you are just asking for trouble. I continue to ride towards the end of the island where I know there are some Mayan ruins, once there I park up as I am desperate for the loo and must put on some sun block. The ruins are right at the tip of the island, but I don’t want to visit, I just have a walk around the area and am delighted to find it is full of iguana… Iggy and Izzy are following me!
.. and some birds circling above our heads
Just look at the size of this one
As I am approaching to take this photo there is a young man on bended knee, obviously proposing to a woman… she say “Yes” and there is much jubilation.. but what a strange place to do it. I overhear him saying she loves Iguanas… they are Americans…. that figures. There are also the ubiquitous stalls selling tourist tut and a statue of a Mayan female with bare breasts and groups of tourists queueing up to have their photos taken pinching her nipples… who knows?
I know I am burnt on my upper arms especially, so I am getting an all over lobster, piece by piece! Back on the scooter and I am heading towards the other end of the island, at last I can see empty beaches so I stop and take a walk down to the waters edge for a paddle.
Just idyllic isn’t it. I also find these… my grand-daughter will love them so I am taking them home, hope I don’t get caught!!
I arrive at the other end of the island and it is just tourist hell… again… street after street of bars and tut shops. I am really hungry now so look for somewhere to park and get something to eat. I find a street full of bars and restaurants so stop here.
Now, I know some people think I moan or am glass half empty, but things just seem to happen to me and this is an absolutely classic example. I am walking up this street and there are plenty of places to choose from, but I decide to go in one that is advertising Pizza.. everyone knows I love Pizza. Now I could have gone in any of these restaurants, but fate makes me choose this one. Ok, so what happens???
I am met by a very friendly chap who seems to be in charge and speaks excellent English, he is very helpful; when I ask if I can charge my phone he says no problem. So I order a pepperoni pizza and a drink. The pizza arrives and it is inedible.. I mean the base is so hard I can hardly cut it. I think, well I probably can’t manage all of it so I try a couple of other slices with the same result.. I just can’t chew it. Then I pick off a couple of bits of pepperoni but think what am I doing, this needs to go back. I call the waiter over, he is the young chap who served me. His English is not good so it is a little difficult for him to understand what I am saying. I tell him that I cannot eat it, it is too hard. He thinks I want to take it away.. “no you take it away I just cannot eat this, I want to eat it, but it’s not possible because the base is too hard.” He seems very unsure so I say I cannot eat it so perhaps he could bring the menu and I can choose something else from the starters. I meant to replace the pizza with, but I don’t think he understands me so I just say, I am not going to pay for something I cannot eat. He says he will talk to someone and takes the pizza away. After about 5 minutes he returns with a plate of guacamole and refried beans with some tortilla chips. “Oh, what is this, I didn’t order this” “It is from the kitchen, you enjoy, is good” and walks off. So I guess this must be in substitute for the inedible pizza, but I didn’t order it, don’t want it and actually am not that keen on guacamole and refried beans. I take one tortilla chip and a bit of guacamole just to confirm that I really don’t want it. Ok now I’ve had enough so ask for my bill. It comes and the pizza is on it, full price. I call the waiter over and tell him I’m not paying for the pizza, I couldn’t eat it, I wanted it, but it was too hard to eat so I’m not paying for something I couldn’t eat. He is now looking very flustered so I tell him to bring the manager. Back comes the manager and he says I must pay for it because I cut it, if I had not cut it then they would take it away without charge. I tell him that I could not eat it, it was too hard so I am not going to pay for it. He says,
“You must pay, it is the law.. you cut it and eat the pepperoni so you must pay”
“I didn’t even eat one slice, it was uneatable so I am not going to pay for it”
“It was fresh, it was fine, you cut it so you must pay”
“How would I know it was too hard to eat if I did not try to eat it, this is ridiculous!”
“Ok, I will get the police”
“Fine go ahead”
He says something to the young waiter who looks a bit stunned and then stalks off. I sit waiting for the police to arrive… I start to cool down… I don’t want any problems with the police given last year in Croatia so after about 10 minutes I call the manager over and say, “How about I pay half?” He smiles and says, “I’ll see what I can do”. Next I see him at another table where two women are sitting, he is talking to them and showing them my bill… ahh so he is not in charge. I really hate having to back down like this, but I don’t want more trouble than I can handle. He comes back and puts the bill on my table as he is passing, he doesn’t hang around. I open the wallet the bill is in and can see why he scarpered.. it has been reduced alright, but only by a measly 10%… I give in, I guess I’m not going to win this one so I pay up… no tip of course.
So there you have it, when given a plethora of choices it seems I am fated to choose the wrong road, hotel, restaurant, etc. Maybe it’s karma???
I head off for another circuit of the island, but I am really fed up now. My skin is burning and pizza-gate has made me feel very low, so I decide to return the scooter and cut short my trip. On the way back to the scooter hire place I see this..
and finally this… rather magnificent I thought.
I hand the scooter in, no issues.. yay.
When I arrive at the ferry terminal there is the most humungous queue. It is still very hot and even though it is a covered area there are so many people crammed in that its almost impossible to breathe. There are no boats at the dock so we are standing for about 20 minutes before a ferry arrives. We then begin to snake forward but soon the boat is full and I am still quite some way from the front of the queue. After about another 10 minutes I can feel everything starting to go black… I am going to faint.. I quickly bend over to make the blood return to my brain, it does help and I feel a little better but am also nauseous. I stand with my head down for a minute or so and then stand up, almost immediately I feel faint again so drink some water and resume the bent position. I try again after a few more minutes, still not right and am beginning to feel quite shaky, more water and back to holding my head down. I stay like this for quite a few minutes when a woman next to me asks if I am ok? I tell her no that I feel faint and I might have overdone it in the heat. She asks if I want her to get someone, but I say I just want the boat to come so I can get on and go home. She says don’t worry we will walk with you to make sure you are ok. Just then a ferry arrives and it is not long before we are on the move again. The woman instructs the man, I presume her husband or partner, to walk behind me so he can catch me if I go. You know this is what I find with most Americans, they can be extremely helpful and considerate and I am truly grate to her for taking the time to offer me some assistance. I am a bit wobbly but make it to the boat ok whereby she tells me to go on the lower deck as that has air conditioning. I thank them both profusely and make my way into the cabin. I am hugely relieved to find a seat and settle down in the cool interior. I begin to feel much better and by the time we dock in Cancún am almost back to normal.
Back to my room and still have to pack as I will leave around 6am to drive to the airport and drop off the car before going to bag drop; I have already checked in online so expect it to be a fairly smooth process, but I do want to give myself plenty of time. Once packed I drag my bags out to the car so that I don’t make too much noise in the morning and disturb people.