Friday, June 2, 2017

The Hidden Gems of Isla

Ricardo and Rosa outside their store on Isla Mujeres
When you meet Ricardo Medina, it is difficult to envision the shy little boy who left school at the age of eight and toiled to help his young, widowed mother support his nine siblings. 

Both he and his charismatic wife Rosa have open-hearted smiles for anyone entering their store on Juarez Avenue – Ricardo’s Fire Opal.

Born in Acapulco, Ricardo moved to the young city of Cancun in 1979. At that time Cancun had fewer than ten thousand residents, a population less than the present-day Isla Mujeres. In 1974 the Mexican government facilitated the construction of an international airport for Cancun, and encouraged investors to build the sprawling all-inclusive resorts on the beaches of the Riviera Maya. The government then went on an intense marketing campaign promoting the Mexican Caribbean to the world. The tourists arrived by the plane load.
Ricardo and his son on one of the Magana boats

Ricardo found employment on the party boats plying the waters between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. His main function was to introduce visitors to Isla Mujeres and promote a time-share property on the island. He intended to stay a few months, save money, and find another job. Eight years later he was still employed on the tour boat run, plus working in a jewelry store near a lagoon in Cancun. The jewelry store was destroyed by Hurricane Gilberto in 1988, leaving Ricardo to find additional work elsewhere.

Original store on Juarez Avenue
And then a beautiful woman from the State of Veracruz, came into his life, Rosa Castillo.  Rosa and her sister had moved from Veracruz in 1990 and were employed at the Ultra Femme store in the Kukulcan luxury shopping plaza in the Cancun hotel zone.  Rosa says it was a heady time. She and her sister were paid decent wages, plus commission on items they sold to the huge influx of visitors. The tourists had money to spend, and they were spending it, hand over fist.

Current location on Juarez Avenue
When Ricardo proposed, Rosa accepted with one condition - no more working on the party boats. That was okay with Ricardo, he had a dream to be self-employed. Isla Mujeres was more affordable than Cancun, so the young family moved to the island in 1996 to start a new life. Their first store was in the same area of Juarez Avenue, but across the street. They were in business at that location for ten years, but changes happened with the property and they had to move. They were approached by the owner of the current location, asking Ricardo and Rosa to set up their business in his building. At Ricardo’s Fire Opal you will find an eclectic collection of beautiful Mexican crafts; Catrina figurines, paintings, dishes, decorative items, furniture, jewelry and Mexican fire opals.

Fire Opal 
So, what is a Fire Opal?  The national gemstone of Mexico, is a stone that can be either transparent or translucent, with colours that range from red, to orange, to yellow or brown. The most sought-after fire opals are transparent, with a high iron content creating the distinctive deep orange hue and an iridescence within the stone. Like a flickering flame. In Mexico the fire opal is mined at Magdalena in the state of Jalisco, and in several locations in the state of Querétaro.

Custom designed bracelets 


Ricardo says when you buy from his store, you get exactly what you are paying for; the silver is real silver, and the gemstone is the real gemstone. There are many fake fire opals in the market, so when buying make sure you trust the merchant.

Several times while we were chatting with Ricardo and Rosa, he repeated how thankful he is for his wife and two sons, his life, his church and his clients. The family has become good friends with many of their repeat customers. He is thankful, thankful, thankful to everyone.

Stop by next time you are visiting this little bit of paradise in the Caribbean. You might just fall in love with one of Ricardo’s beautiful fire opals, or a custom-made piece of jewelry. You will definitely fall in love with their warm smiles.

Hasta Luego 

Lynda & Lawrie



Coming August 2017 the sequel to my first novel! 





Treasure Isla 
$2.99 USD 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.

3 comments:

Gailmarie7 said...

So happy to read about my long-time friend, Ricardo, and the wonderful Rosa! I love going into his shop and have more than a few pieces from there, over the years. This is a special place, and they are special people. Thank you for writing about them. I love Fuego de Opalo!

Lynda & Lawrie said...

Hi Gail: That was my first time in their shop, my friend Julie Goth introduced me to Ricardo and Rosa. Beautiful people. Cheers Lynda

Angie Householder said...

I purchased one of his custom rings a couple years ago it is beautiful and I love it. His wife helped me with the purchase and he made the box custom with my name painted on it they were a real pleasure to do business with I'm sure I will be back for another piece of lovely jewelry. it wasn't cheap but I didn't want cheap I wanted quality and that's what I got