Mexico, before the Wall

Detailed trip report part 3: Isla Mujeres

Life in Isla Mujeres has been less intense and I guess it’s not worth splitting this report day by day.

Our resort was a pretty luxurious one. more than 200 USD per couple per night. They offered soon an all-inclusive extra for 40 USD per day, we declined. I generally don’t like to go all-inclusive, I usually skip lunches while on vacation in favour of a rich breakfast and an early dinner. Plus, I like to explore local restaurants and I know that with an all-inclusive I’d never leave the resort. Plus if I know I have unlimited access to food and beverages I’d consume them (like… at Hooli) and my body would have to digest all of it. Finally, we’d spend way less than 40 USD per day to eat&drink, given that breakfast are included anyway.

Anyway, here’s our suite

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As I said, we decided to book a luxury resort and a luxury room within the resort. That’s our Honeymoon suite, equipped with Jacuzzi and 60 square meters of room space. More than our Swiss apartment.

I know, I know, I’m here being proud of my frugal tactics and now I’m bragging about my luxury spending… but let me explain few things. We could have booked our rooms via the same tour operator we used for the first week. We didn’t, extra costs saved. We could have booked the room on, at a higher price. We didn’t. We monitored the resort website for a while since they occasionally throw special offers. As soon as they offered a “pay 6 nights, stay 7” offer we blocked it. They offered to come to grab us at Cancun airport for 70 USD per person per leg, we refused. We spent roughly 80 USD total for 4 people for the transfer. Total for both ways (instead of the 560 USD offered by the resort). Let’s say that we cut few extra useless expenses to allow us to maximize what we considered to be fun, given our budget. Totally worth it.

The resort has a couple of swimming pools and a bar inside the main pool. It looks cool, but it’s an “all inclusive bar”, so it’s always full of fatty Americans that drink a low quality, watered cocktail after another.

That’s where we are. In an American amusement park, built for Americans and obviously frequented by Americans. Still don’t understand why these guys voted to build the wall between Mexico and USA.

A horde of fatty Americans drinking blue colored water a la’ Wall-e occupies the swimming pool area and the portion of the beach reserved to our resort. A bunch of humble Mexican waiters running around to bring cocktails to fatty Americans on their rare 3 days vacation after 362 days of work this year. How depressing this view is.

Here are few personal considerations about Isla.

It’s not a Caribbean isle with easy to access “quiet and relax”. It’s Mexico, it’s full of people and noise is mandatory. Kiosks, bars, radios, catamarans, everyone has to play some kind of music at high volume. You won’t hear ocean waves, seagulls and other natural seaside sounds. No, you’ll hear 3 to 5 different noises that horribly overlaps at different magnitudes and amplitudes, generating a spectrum of hate and a strong desire to deploy few bombs here and there.

There are few accessible beaches, all are in the north. The north of the Isla is the “downtown”, where everything lies. Everything touristic, I mean. Wall-e guys never leave the downtown. Restaurants, noise, things, stuff… why the hell would you want to visit the rest?

It occurs to me that I like to explore. With tremendous resentment I must admit that the rest of Isla, the savage south, sucks too. Wait, not that much though. That’s the problem with Isla… it sucks. But it’s ok, since you’re taking a bath in December, have you ever done it??

It sucks because the rest of Isla is all private, there are no public accesses to the ocean/caribbean sea. You have to pass thru bars to access their private beaches. Holy sheet, I’m so not used to something like that. Come to Sardinia, get lost into an eternity of free beaches, silence and relax. Here you have to pass thru an Ice bar (a bar built with tons of Ice, not joking) to access a small beach, pay a damned bill for it and get annoyed by people with high volume music. And btw, the sea sucked that day so we spent time in the bar’s swimming pools. But it’s still cool, look at this:

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It sucks because the north is so densely populated and noisy, with safe waters that extend just for 10 meters, after that catamarans playing annoying music try to convince you to buy their sheetty tour. But it’s still cool because look at the sea, isn’t it amazing?

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… and btw, every sunset was a special event we never missed!

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So my one sentence opinion of Isla is: I hate it but I also love it. But as one of my virtual mentors says: “No ‘yes’. Either ‘hell yeah!!’ or ‘no’“, I’d say it’s a no. There are better place to relax, and I value relax, silence, being able to read and think, let my mind explore the unknown.

I must also admit that while going on vacation with a group is awesome – you build memories together and make your connections stronger – going on vacation alone or just in two is even more awesome. To most of the people vacations means detaching from normal sheetty life and doing something extraordinary like swimming with dolphins and drink a lot of cocktails. Vacation to me means creative time. It means allowing myself to explore the gift of having time to waste. It means giving myself the gift of focusing my attention on whatever I want. I don’t want 10 sources of music/noise and waiters asking if I need a cocktail every 5 minutes.

nicely performed behavior #3, mr. dolphin!

Did I say swimming with dolphins? In Isla there’s a place where you can do that. It costs an outrageous amount of money. Basic entrance fee is 130 USD for “behaviors“. If you want the full experience of something like 12 behaviors and 3 dolphins instead of 2 it’s 299 USD. Go fock yourself, dear dolphins lady. 300 dollars to “enjoy” this fake experience where someone is measuring dolphins behaviors is not something I want to even try.

You may not be able to swim in December, but Italian islands are way waaaay better than Isla. Anyway, as I said in the planning phase, probably Holbox Island would have been a better experience.

Ok, you won few extra pictures of Isla 🙂

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  1. Hi RIP,
    did a similar trip 12 years ago (the first part, no island).
    At the time tourist were allowed to climb the temple at Chichen Itza (little bit scary – and dangerous – to climb down, though…).
    Drove a rented car without problems (in Chiapas too, where you’ll be a little scared the first time you see these chains strained in front of you, then you get used to…). Only problem we had driving up to San Cristobal, the car overheated and wasn’t able to climb anymore…luckily we were pulled along by a truck full loaded with water carboys… 🙂

    1. You brave for driving in Chiapas!
      And lucky too, I know til few years ago (in the order of… 2-3) you could climb the ruins 🙁

      Personal curiosity: how was the interaction with the Truck driver who escorted you to San Cristobal? Did he try to sell all his water reserve to you? 😀

      1. No problem at all with the truck driver ! At the beginning we were a little bit scared cause the car was connected to the truck with an old rope and we were concerned about safety…
        Generally we have had a really good experience with the people and didn’t get bothered at all (perhaps only some tenacious sellers in the 2 pueblos S. Juan Chamula and Zinacantan). From this point of view I think we had a better experience than you (I also don’t like being bothered too much while hanging around), maybe less tourists around ? We were there in February 2005.

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