Oh My, Isla Mujeres, how you’ve changed!
Last time I visited this pretty island was February 2002… I did expect some growth and development over the past eleven years, but what I found was… Well… A smaller version of Cancun!
Nah, maybe I’m exaggerating a little… On crowded days yes, it looks just like your average tourist place, with people hustling for business and shop owners frantically waving in and relentlessly pursuing the visitors.
But then there are those quiet, magic hours, usually in the early to mid-morning, when you can clearly see the beauty and feel the true spirit of the Island.
I take great pleasure in walking the tiny, meandering streets, guided solely by the next brightly colored building, or by a glimpse of the dazzling Caribbean Blue Sea beckoning behind palm fronds.
Blinding white beaches of fine, powdery sand and sparkling aqua-turquoise waters, temperature in the high 80s: my version of Paradise!
This side of Mexico -the Caribbean side- is quite different from the Pacific Mexico I fell in love with. Certainly much more developed and more than a touch too touristy. But its people remain the same, regardless of which side: sunny, smiling, friendly.
Oh, how I missed Mexico!
Well, I guess we’ll get our fill of this lovely country and its rich, lusciously flavorful food.
We’re planning on staying at least until mid-May; considering we’ve been here already over three weeks (since April 13th), there will be plenty more time to enjoy.
Isla Mujeres also happens to be a busy hub for cruising boats. Many boats and crews we haven’t seen in whole months are gathered here, planning their next trip in whichever direction.
It makes for some good, festive reunions but also for some awful Adios… You finally get to see people you haven’t seen in ages, people you missed; you catch up on each other’s experiences and plans, only to help them untie their lines just a few days (sometimes just hours!) later. As they leave for points beyond, you wonder if you’ll ever see them again.
I hate goodbyes with a passion by now. We had to say so many of them so many times that I don’t even show up when friends leave anymore. People who know me are aware of this and understand, others who know me a little less may think I’m just a rude, uncaring bitch… To them I say “Sorry, people, just trying to save me from some grief…” That final greeting just hurts.
Frankly, this is the single negative about cruising and I am mighty tired of it.
Anyway, enough complaining about things I can’t change…
For those like us who came from the Pacific North West, also known as “The Other Side”, a common plan is to cross the Gulf of Mexico and catch the Gulf Stream all the way to Florida. Many friends are going up the Eastern seaboard; others will conclude their cruising life by selling the boat and return to a somewhat forgotten land life.
No matter how you put it, Isla Mujeres for us cruisers is sort of a Turning Point: from here on, plans change, life takes a turn.
Speaking of plans: let me tell you how ridiculous it is to even contemplate wasting your time making them… The only constant of this lifestyle is change. That’s all the wisdom I gathered in 32 months of cruising, and I’m sticking to it!
Our plans (yes, we waste time making them, too) today are different from what they were last month, or even last week for that matter…
For many reasons too tedious and convoluted to explain, we came up with this latest development: once we leave Isla Mujeres and Mexico behind, we’ll aim for Florida. So far, so normal, right?
Here’s the twist: we plan (here’s that damn useless word again!) to stop in Florida for a few months, taking a break from the cruising life, regrouping and figuring out what we want to do when we grow up.
And here’s the juicy bit: I schemed and connived until I convinced Tom to buy me a house (GASP!).
Nope, we’re certainly not done cruising; there’s still a good portion of the world we want to explore. But I feel like taking a land break, and convinced Tom he needs one too. I did mention the scheming and conniving part, right?
Anyway, we’re thinking of trying the 6 months on – six months off routine, try the part-time cruising so many others so successfully enjoy. We’ll see where that takes us.
To be honest I have mixed feeling, like I always do about everything.
I’m quite excited at the thought of living on land for a while, doing landlubbers’ stuff. At the same time I’m mildly apprehensive about reentering the USA. Will it feel like a foreign country after almost three years away? Probably!
We’ve been living in total freedom for a long time, making and breaking our own rules any which way we liked. Are we going to feel repressed? Is it going to be tough to readjust?
Will we be swallowed whole by the American Way of life? I hope not… I didn’t miss the sensationalist, negative, endless stream of news, the race to buy stuff and more stuff, the constant “noise” in the background and foreground that prevented me from thinking clearly… Maybe now, knowing a simpler, different way to exist, I’ll be able to enjoy the best of both worlds? It remains to be seen, but I’m eager to find out.
On the other hand, I see many positive aspects of having a home base. For one, we’ll have a place where we can welcome family and friends to visit! Not to mention those big bushes of basil and rosemary I’m envisioning growing on the porch… I’m looking forward to the conveniences I used to take for granted: a fully stocked grocery store, a night at the movies, boat parts readily available. New friends! Developing hobbies… Classes in photography, perhaps?
It will be interesting to see how we adapt to the new environment, and if it gets to be too much… We still have the opportunity to escape again, should we feel too “trapped”…
But I’m letting my mind run away from me. Must not forget to live in the present! Especially while the present is so pleasant…
As it turns out, the weather won’t be favorable for at least another week, so we’re not going anywhere until May 15th for sure.
Oh, bummer… The house hunt will just have to wait.
We’re stuck playing tourists for a while longer!