Friday, August 11, 2017

Isla from a kid’s point of view.

Dancing, dancing, dancing - carefree and happy.   
To get a different perspective on life on the island, we decided to write about Isla from a kid’s point of view.  
We asked several of our friends if their youngsters would be willing to answer a few questions. Here are their responses.

Where were you born? 
Cancun and the USA were the most common answers.

Hanging out with friends

How long have you lived on Isla Mujeres?
My whole life, or in some cases the youngsters answered with the number of years. 

It sounds so very grown-up, but from their perspective, it is their whole life.

If you have lived in another country do you miss anything from that country? 

The mountains.  

Interesting enough none of the kids mentioned missing a particular food, which according to our grown-up friends is one of the biggest adjustments they had to make. We have friends who ‘mule’ down a variety of their favourite items every time they return from their country of origin. We, on the other hand, have adjusted to the food and flavours that are available here, with the exception of my favourite brand of hard, salty Dutch licorice. That I get ‘muled’ to us a couple of times a year. It’s a must-have.

Bike riding on the Malecon

Is living on Isla fun?
Everyone answered that one with a big YES!

Why wouldn’t it be?  There are parades and fireworks several times a year for Carnaval, Independence Day, and Revolution Day. Then there are traditional dance groups, musicians, and Carnaval dancers. 


Trick or treating for several days is common

A youngster can celebrate Christmas with their Canadian or American friends, and still convince mom and dad that they should receive presents on the Night of the Kings, January 6th.  Or they can trick-or-treat for Halloween, then continue through November 1st and 2nd, for the Day of the Dead. 

The tradition of trick-or-treating was brought to Mexico by visitors, and the local kids adapted just fine to the custom expanding it into a five or six-day binge of collecting candy and pocket change from tourists.





One of several basketball courts 
What is your favourite thing to do on Isla?
These answers ranged from playing video games, going out for dinner, hanging out at the beach, and enjoying the annual Carnaval dances and parades. 

Us too, except the video games. We’re terrible at those! With a choice of hundreds of restaurants ranging from high-end gourmet to economical home-style, it’s a great way to introduce youngsters to new foods and a new culture. 
Revolution Day parade on Isla Mujeres
Kids can also learn to play baseball, basketball or soccer. Then there is fishing either with a few friends or as a participant in the annual kid’s fishing tournament. Ride a bike. Learn to skateboard. Go swimming, or just chill at the beach. With the exception of a few storms that roll across the island the weather is normally warm, sunny and great for outdoor activities. No snowsuits required!
Playing in Centro

What languages do you speak?
Everyone answered English and Spanish. 

Other languages that we have heard local youngsters speak include Hebrew, French, Italian and a number of Spanish dialects from South American. How lucky for the kids to be fluent in a number of languages at such a young age.

Annual Fishing Tournament for the young islanders

Do you sometimes translate for your parents?  
Most said no, that their parents are bilingual, some said yes their parents are still learning Spanish or that they translated for grandparents. 

We need one of those! We still struggle to learn the language after nearly ten years of living on Isla. A fluency in other languages is so helpful when you travel to other countries. I struggled with five years of mandatory French when I was in school.  Lawrie chose Latin, which strangely enough has been very useful for deciphering written instructions or road signs in French, Spanish or Italian.
 
Summer fun all year around
Is your best friend the child of a foreigner?  Or a Mexican child? 
The majority of the responses were: I have many friends who are from the USA, Canada, Europe, and Mexico. What a great mix of experiences for island kids.

Where do you go to school?
Most of the youngsters attend school on the island whether it is private school or public school. One is being homeschooled by parents.

Do you like school?
Ha! The answers were pretty plain which ones were boys and which ones were girls. Boys-no! Girls-yes!

Any advice for parents who are thinking of moving with their children to Isla Mujeres? 

Parents, for the most part, answered that question:

Celebrating Independence Day in Centro
Living in Isla is great with kids, safe, and fun. Most of the things I thought I needed to raise a child it turned out I did not need at all. Learning to live simply is the best lesson of all!  

Rent a golf cart, get to know the island and get a house.

Learn the culture, learn the language, and get involved with the island.

Enjoy your week,
Cheers

Lynda & Lawrie 


Treasure Isla

Have you got yours yet? $2.99 on amazon e-books
Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt. 



The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato. She is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Saving Lola!

Julie Goth pouring water on stuck mama turtle.   
“Hey Lawrie! There’s a sea turtle stuck between two rocks! Can you help me get her free?”

Rob Goth, our neighbour a few houses to the north of us, stood in our courtyard shouting towards our upper deck. 

It was early in the morning and we still had our bedroom door closed with the a/c running. We hadn’t heard him shout, but the dogs Sparky and Max had. They woofed, and Lawrie opened the door to investigate. 


Julie, Lawrie, and Rob - how are we going to do this?
Then Lawrie yelled an explanation to me and took off, leaving me to scramble out of the shower, toss on clothes, and dash after him with my camera in hand.

When I arrived on the beach side of Rob and Julie’s house, appropriately named Casa de Tortuga, Julie was gently pouring water over the turtle’s head and Rob and Lawrie were discussing ideas to free her. 

The temperature was already a sweltering 30C but felt like 36C due to the high humidity, that’s 86 and 97 in the American temperature scale. 

Rob Goth, sun umbrella for turtle
The turtles can survive on land for short periods to lay their eggs, but the ladies always arrive after dark and usually leave by sunrise.

This poor mama was hot, and getting hotter.
She was tightly jammed in a crevice between a ledge and an enormous chunk of rock. 

Fortunately she was in the upright position, not standing on her head. 

Lawrie suggested lifting her out by her flippers. I said no, that might injure the muscles in her shoulders and then she wouldn’t be able to swim. (What do I know?)

Rob went back their house for small, red and white beach umbrella and a bigger bucket to pour water more over her. 

Rob Goth, hat for him, bigger umbrella for turtle
I zipped up to the street, looking for a local who might know the number for the Tortugranja, the Turtle Farm. 

Tony Gutierrez was passing by, I asked him if he knew anyone at the Turtle Farm, He said yes, and offered to drive over to tell them we needed help.

Other neighbours, Cesar Sepúlveda and Sylvia Leal supplied a bigger beach umbrella, and another bucket. Their daughter Fanny pitched in with filling buckets of water and passing them to Rob. 

Visitors from Kansas City, who were staying at Vidrio del Mar, the Sea Glass house next to Rob and Julie's helped wherever they could. As did a guest from nearby Punta Piedra.


Fanny lugging water. Guest from 'Sea Glass House" helping
Cesar hopped into the family golf cart and drove to the Turtle Farm looking for help, not realizing I had already spoken to Tony Gutierrez.

More people arrived, everyone curious and trying to be helpful. Some of the new arrivals took turns pouring the water over her head and body, hoping to prevent heat exhaustion. 

Lawrie and I both grabbed large coils of rope from our house. 



More helpers arriving
Cesar and Sylvia contributed flat tie-down straps used for holding cargo in place.

It seemed like forever, but in reality it was probably about thirty minutes before the turtle farm employees arrived. 

They decided to lift her out by her flippers …. as I said, what do I know? (Yes, honey, you were right.)

The guys used the tie-down straps instead of the rope because the thin straps were easier to maneuver between the turtle’s body and her flippers. 

Success! She's moving.
Then Luis, Amado and Emir lifted her, one on each side and one grabbing her shell behind her neck. The first attempt didn’t work, Amado asked for a hammer and chisel, thinking to chip away a bit of the rock. 

Rob reached in and suggested they give it one more try, poof – she was out.

Cheers erupted, everyone grinning like little kids at the circus. 

Turtle guys and helpful visitors - hold her for a minute

The mama started off but she was dragging a strap still attached to her front flipper. 

Three guys struggled to hold her back while another (Luis maybe?) undid the strap. And then she was off.

Amado escorted her to the water’s edge, waving her a farewell.

Everyone happy and turtle headed back to ocean
It was heartwarming to see so many people from Canada, the USA, and Mexico come together to help this one creature. 

The next day was Rob Goth's birthday and as he said, "This was the best gift I could have dreamed of."

A really big thank you to the Tortugranja employees from all of us.



As we headed home, carrying two really heavy coils of rope, I turned to Julie Goth and Sylvia Leal, “Hey, what’s her name?” I asked, pointing at the retreating turtle.

Amado escorting 'Lola" back to her home.
“Lola!” They yelled back.

From all of us, happy travels Lola, and for heaven’s sake, watch where you are going!

Hasta luego,

Lynda & Lawrie


The numbers for turtle emergencies: 

998-134-0712   Kai Creamer

A further update, today Aug 5th Capt. Tony Garcia found another mama turtle stuck near Casa Coral. 

He was able to rescue her as well. Might be an idea for home owners on the Caribbean side of the island to do a morning check for trapped mama turtles.  Better than letting them bake to death in the sunshine. 






Have you got yours yet?
Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt. 



The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato. She is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The blue will leave you breathless

View from Isla towards Manchones Reef and Cancun.  

Giant sea turtles, dolphins, rays, whale sharks, and exotic fish of every description swimming in sapphire-blue water; that’s the main attraction to Isla Mujeres. 

You can swim, snorkel, scuba, or if you are experienced, free-dive like the locals. 

MUSA - Photo from Glass-bottom boat, Cancun webpage



A unique subaquatic site is the MUSA, Museo Subacuático de Arte, an underwater museum situated on Manchones Reef between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. The MUSA was started in 2009 in an attempt to divert divers away from the over-visited natural reefs. The project currently has over 500 concrete statues that were lowered to the ocean floor by ship-mounted cranes.

MUSA Manchones Reef - X-treme Sports photo
The MUSA is within easy diving depths, and reasonable visible to surface snorkelers, or via the glass-bottom boat tours operating out of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. The underwater statues feature unnervingly realistic houses, furniture, cars, pets and people, fabricated out of porous concrete that encourages aquatic plant growth and provides a friendly habitat for a wide assortment of sea creatures and fish. 

Turtle, Punta Sur - Captain Tony Garcia Isla Mujeres photo
Another great diving location is just off Punta Sur, or south point near the Garrafon Natural Reef Park. 

There is usually an abundance of sea turtles and barracudas passing through. A number of our friends drift-dive in this area. 

But watch out for the strong currents!

Diving on a wreck - Sea Hawk Divers, Isla Mujeres photo

Or if you are interested there are ship wrecks to explore. Who knows you may find a galleon from the era of Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba, the Spanish captain who discovered Isla Mujeres in 1517. 

Or perhaps you’ll come across a corsair that could have belonged to pirates such as the Lafitte brothers, Laurens Cornelis Boudewijn de Graaf or Fermin Mundaca.


Beautiful fish - Kara Stansfield photo
Along the eastern side of the island is the Great Maya Barrier Reef, second longest reef in the world. 

It runs right past our house all the way to Belize and is very accessible for scuba diving or snorkeling.

There are a few other secret gems, like the cave of the sleeping sharks and the mysterious hidden cave.

We’re not divers and haven’t seen the caves, so even if we were bribed with muchas cervezas frías or a copa de vino tinto we still couldn’t divulge the locations, but we know a few people who could …..

Group heading out to scuba dive - L Lock photo
Just ask anyone of these folks:

Aqua Adventures: http://diveislamujeres.com/
Squalo Adventures: https://squaloadventures.com/

Hyperbaric chamber located on Isla Mujeres, in Centro
If the worst happens and you experience decompression sickness, the bends, when resurfacing, Isla has its own hyperbaric chamber to help with your recovery. 

Primary used to rehabilitate deep-diving lobster fishermen, it is also used to promote healing of leg ulcers in diabetic patients or speed up the repair of badly fractured bones.

On a humorous side-note, apparently Hollywood A-Listers have discovered the wrinkle-reduction benefits of time spent in a hyperbaric chamber.

So, now you can explore our watery underworld and get a face-lift all in one vacation.

Cheers
Lynda & Lawrie






Have you got yours yet?
Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt. 

$2.99 on Amazon e-books. 
Free downloadable app enables reading on any electronic device.




The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato.  Carmen is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

It ain’t easy!

Another spectacular day on Isla Mujeres.      
It sounds easy; tour around Isla Mujeres on a golf cart. Just point the front end, stomp the gas pedal and off you go.

Caritos de golf aren’t fast and are relatively easy to steer depending on the overall condition of the vehicle. Uneven pavement, unmarked pot holes, or the numerous speed bumps, called topes, can jostle a poorly maintained vehicle around.


Richard and Lawrie - our island vehicle
A typical golf cart is just darn basic. It comes equipped with four wheels, a steering wheel, seats front and back and a one-cylinder seven-horsepower gas engine. 

They don’t have turn signals, brake lights, windshield wipers and of course no seat belts, airbags, or baby seats. In the slightly upgraded models a horn is included and if you are lucky it might actually work. 

Your arms are the turn signals. (Although it seems at times that drivers born after 1980 were never taught how to use hand signals.)


Accident in front of our house
When driving on Isla indicate your movements, lane changes, and direction changes clearly or you will find yourself being driven in a cop car to the police station. There you will pay for the damages to the vehicle that you hit, damages to the vehicle that you were driving, the other persons’ medical bills, your medical bills, and a number of vague traffic ‘fines’ that can mount up to several hundreds of dollars.


Busy streets on Isla Mujeres
The whole process of straightening out your accident can burn up hours and hours of your vacation time.  We know from personal experience after helping other folks deal with the situation. 

And please, don’t think about leaving the island without paying for the damages. You are a long way from home, and Mexican jails won’t win any Trip Advisor Awards for Excellence. 

(Prisoners are not fed, they must make their own arrangements for food and water to be brought in to them.)
Move over - we're coming through!
But the most important accessory on a carito de golf is the rear view mirror.  Make sure your rental vehicle has one, and check it frequently.  Motos, motorcycles and scooters will pass on either side of you. 

Drive as far to the right-hand side of the lane as you safely can because other vehicles will pass on corners, hills or wherever there is a little bit of space. 

For a taxi driver time is money. If you are hogging the lane the taxi drivers will become impatient and pass you, expecting you to move over and make room for their vehicle to squeeze by.


Vacationers - let's go to Isla and rent a golf cart!
During the year when families are on vacations watch out for young children steering a golf cart. 

It’s illegal, but for some reason folks think that the streets on Isla are quiet little country lanes with a few golf carts puttering along, and that it’s a cute idea to teach a youngster how to aim a vehicle on a busy road. 

Look again folks. There are ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, propane trucks, or tractor-trailer units, over a thousand rental golf carts, plus hundreds of taxis, motorcycles and bicycles all vying for limited road space. 

There is no 'slow season' on Isla anymore. 
Another challenge of driving on Isla is the abundance of drivers posing for ‘selfies,’ weaving back and forth in the lane as they try for the perfect shot of themselves and friends. 

Add a few cervezas and margaritas and later in the afternoon we hear the ambulances whizzing past our house, responding to yet another accident involving golf carts and motos, or golf carts and taxis, or golf carts and pedestrians.


Watch out for unmarked hazards.
One of our island-born friends, recently lamented, “They think they are in Disneyland when they come to Isla.” 

Enjoy your visit to the island, and don’t become one of the accident statistics. 

It’s not the way to finish up your vacation in paradise.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie






~

Treasure Isla
Have you got yours yet?



Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.  
$2.99 USD on Amazon ebooks.

https://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Isla-Caribbean-adventure-Mujeres-ebook/


The cover of Treasure Isla has a new look courtesy of one of my favourite mystery writers Carmen Amato. She is the creator of the popular Emilia Cruz Detective series set in Acapulco.