Honeymoon in Mexico 2011
December 16-23, 2011 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico - our honeymoon
Well, we did it. We spent seven glorious days together on a small, quaint island in the Mexican caribbean called Isla Mujeres. A favorite spot of ours. Once again, it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it even exceeded my expectations. Not only did we get our same room #21 on the third floor at Hotel Belmar with a balcony that we always do, but we tore the island a new asshole in a completely unexpected way – we met tons of new people. And Michael really stepped it up by being the best “esposo” ever – he took care of the money at all times, ordered everything for us both in Spanish, and literally did everything for us without even being asked. He was a lifesaver! I couldn’t have done it without him nor would I have wanted to. And here’s a rundown of our trip…
Mexico Journal (December 16-23, 2011)*
*real events may be a little hazier than depicted below
We flew out on American Airlines from LaGuardia and, for the first time together as travelers, took a car in the afternoon for once, right after Michael’s last nursing final. Normally we’re in a car en route to the airport at some dark, ungodly hour like 5:00am, so it was nice to travel while fully coherent, for once.
We arrived in Miami then traveled straight on to Cancun, Mexico. Arriving later than we thought, we knew we had to hurry as we finished going through the last checkpoint. Of course, having separation anxiety, I walked up with Michael to the uniformed guard who checked our passports, looked at me haughtily as I stood directly behind and next to Michael, and asked Michael if we were family or not.
Michael answered, “Si.”
When the guard asked who I was, Michael said, “Mi esposo.” (translation: “My husband.”)
The guard laughed and waved us through.
My heart swelling, we walked out of the airport to the thick, tropical night and into the waiting throngs of men harassing us into taking a taxi. A very expensive taxi. Michael’s Spanish came in handy (again) at that point as he computed pesos into dollars. Finally, he made a deal with some guy who proposed to drive us to Puerto Juarez for a decent fare before the last ferry departed at 10:30pm…although it was already 10pm. Our driver promised to be “Speedy Gonzalez” and, what do you know, he kept to his word. The landscape blurred outside as we passed the gaudy lights of Cancun, so similar to the hotels of Las Vegas. By the time we arrived at the ferry and jumped out with our carry-on luggage, we only had five minutes to spare. Whew! Riding the ferry to the island of Isla Mujeres in the dark was a new experience as well. Quite lovely to see the lights rush up towards us as the wind whipped through our hair (okay, that’s an exaggeration—but the wind was still strong) and the anticipation built.
Upon arriving at Hotel Belmar, our lovely concierge Elena greeted us with, “I almost left for the night, I didn’t think you guys would make it, but I waited for the last ferry.” We breathed a sigh of relief, retrieved our key, and walked up three flights to the magic room numbered 21.
Look at what we were greeted with in our room!
This heart made of towels was on our bed, waiting for us. Hey, how’d they know it was our honeymoon?
Promptly dumping our bags, we changed into something more comfortable (i.e. clean) and headed on out along Ave. Hidalgo for some late-night eats. Since it was now almost 11pm, most of the restaurants had closed for the evening. However, we heard music playing from an upstairs spot that had been closed two years previously. La Terraza was now open and welcoming us with open arms. Climbing the narrow staircase while holding onto a heavy rope on the side of the wall for support, we found ourselves seated at a cute two-top on the second level overlooking the street. First up – margaritas con rocas sin salt with star-cut limes! Muy bien.
Delicious, mouth-watering appetizers soon followed, and even though we ordered three plates (with the thought that we may need a fourth, we were so hungry), we could barely finish the large portions placed before us. Already, La Terraza had become our favorite restaurant on the island.
The next day dawned sunny, warm, and lovely. As we were wont to do, we promptly had breakfast downstairs at a cute two-top outside our hotel (since breakfast was included with our room) and then headed immediately to the beach at Playa Norte. Divine! We splayed out a sheet on the sand in front of Buho’s bar and restaurant, which had expanded to include a tall thatched roof over the tables, chandelier above the bar, and outlying building next to the restaurant with a balcony and hammocks. Other than that, it was still exactly the same. We swam, we drank, we played Uno. When returning to our room in the afternoon, we were stopped by a local storekeeper and asked to purchase a pipe. Michael immediately retorted with, “Why? We have nothing to put in it.” Then and there, it was known that we were looking for something stronger to smoke. Later that afternoon after a torrential downpour that stranded us in a random doorway for 15 minutes, a boy of no more than thirteen years old flagged Michael down and took us between two golf carts for a very special “purchase.” Guess it was time to buy a pipe now!
Meanwhile, we were making ourselves at home in Room 21. Here’s Michael on our famed, dreamy, to-die-for balcony:
Michael purchased several small, religious votive candles and a bottle of tequila, and we made a few trips to the local grocery store in the village square as well. At one point after taking money out of the ATM, we were already turned onto Ave. Hidalgo when we heard a man shouting behind us, “Hey you! You lucky guy!” There was a man waving my debit card in his hand – he saw me get money out of the machine and leave before the card was spit back out. I AM a lucky guy! That would have seriously ruined our entire trip since all of our Honeyfund money was in my checking account. Karma of the good kind appeared to be with us.
Later that evening back at the grocery store, we had the cutest “confrontation” of sorts. While Michael was busy looking for something (I can’t for the life of me remember what), a girl materialized out of nowhere and tugged on my elbow urgently. “Hey, are you ‘family’?” she asked, a hopeful look in her eyes. Right away, I knew what she meant. “Yes!” I exclaimed. “This is my husband Michael, and we’re on our honeymoon.” With a sigh of relief, she introduced herself as Amanda and told us that her girlfriend April was hiding in another aisle, waiting to see what transpired. Apparently, they had approached two other male couples who were gay, but no “real” connection was made. And then came us. After we all met each other and purchased our items, the girls left one way while we went the other. Then Michael and I stopped in our tracks and wondered why we were letting them get away. So we followed them (with Michael hissing “Sssss! Ssssss!”) and asked them up to Room 21. They accepted, and friendships were born. The girls live on a farm in New Mexico which April tends to full time, and Amanda is a part-time massage therapist, soon-to-be-published writer, and farm worker. After some party time in the room, we took them to dinner at our favorite new spot, La Terraza, where we sat inside the tiny restaurant and watched a small band perform. So cute. Then back to the room for tequila and weed before deciding to show them La Luna. No one was there, so after pictures on the huge throne outside, we continued the party at a huge four-top table made of gnarly wood on the outdoor patio with the waves crashing just beyond us, proceeded to get even more stoned, and took it back to the room for a super late-nite hang. Those girls were awesome!
Unfortunately, they were leaving the next morning for Belize, so we only had the chance to visit with them for that one magical night. Already, the island had been incredible to us.
Meanwhile, we found Lory.
Lory worked as a bartender at one of the main bars at a “busy” intersection on Ave. Hidalgo, one that we could sit outside at, people watch, play Uno, and drink. Almost immediately, we felt a kinship with this girl. Not only was she exotic-looking and sweet, but we gradually found out she was born and raised in Ethiopia, spent the last several years in Rome, and was now on the island for over two years. What a striking creature she was, from her honeyed dreadlocks and hard-to-place accent to her pill-capsule tongue piercing! And from the get-go, she seemed to revel in making up brand-new shots for us on the spot to try, always with a new name (“Black Africa” was one that we ended up loving, as it had coffee in it) and a small light she would splay underneath each shot glass as she brought it to you, in order to show off the mix of colors in the best light possible. What a class act. Also a photographer, we ended up buying several of her postcards of Isla Mujeres to treasure.
During one of our late-night walks home to Hotel Belmar, we happened to pass a small bar called Pure Life and began speaking with a young American couple at an outside table. Somehow, we must have made plans to meet the next day for Miranda and Josh were at Buho’s as promised the next morning, while Michael and I sipped on tequila and orange juice. The details were hazy from our first meeting, but once we all hooked up again, it was ON. We literally spent the next few days with these crazy kids from Arizona and got up to all kinds of amazing shenanigans including a day at Garrafon Park for a ride on the zip line, followed by a trip to Zamas resort to lounge by the pool with cocktails.
Man, that zip line was an experience, to say the least. Michael went first, of course, followed by me, then Miranda, with Josh bringing up the rear. As I climbed up to the first tower and got buckled in a harness under the family jewels, I began to panic. “I’m scared,” I whispered. Michael had already cruised down the ocean cliffs to the next tower before I bit the bullet, said a quick prayer, and then let myself go. Exhilirating! Once I was on the move, I loved it, and I braked in time to land in the second tower with a modicum of dignity. While there, I posed for a few professional pictures with a photographer, bumped my head on the cable while switching to the next zip line, and then launched myself over the clear blue sea to the second tower.
Unfortunately, this time I was going too fast and while the person in the second tower pumped his arm in the air, motioning for me to brake, I did it too late. In an awkward sort of crashing scenario, I was flung into the man a little too hard and my legs wrapped completely around his middle so that I could stop! I extracted myself with a laugh. What else could I do? By this point, I was ready for the last zip line to the beach and I executed this one flawlessly. Breathless, my excitement was evident and while the man at the last tower unbuckled and untied me, he asked me the strangest question about the one who had just gone before me (Michael): “Is that your son or your friend?” he wanted to know. Since I was so flabbergasted, I answered back, “Friend,” without another thought, although I should have answered back defiantly, “Mi esposo!” Oh well, we all got a good laugh out of that one. With Michael running off to the bathroom, I was left on the beach to watch Miranda make her way down behind me. Now, she was way more scared than me and it showed. In fact, she was so nervous that she braked way too soon and got stuck in the middle of the line! The man in the last tower shimmied out to her with his hands only and then flipped upside down and walked his feet back on the rope, pulling her, while he was upside down! It was an incredible sight to see. Luckily, she made it back safe and sound, followed smoothly by Josh. Over all, it was truly a super fun experience. And, of course, we all bought the photos of us on the zip line before catching a drink at the bar and having a cigarette before Zamas. Delightful!
Dinner at La Terraza followed later (duh), followed by ridiculous antics in Room 21, tequila and weed, and then a short stint at La Luna. Those two days really blur together for me with those two, I swear.
And then it was time to meet Bettina…
One afternoon while Michael and I played Uno at the bar at Buho’s, a blonde foreign woman who’d been smoking next to me said, “I see you are a loser in the game.” Well, I never! Sure, I’d been bitching and moaning about losing every game to Michael, but she didn’t have to eavesdrop! I’m kidding, it was funny and we all laughed and introduced ourselves. Turns out she’s an architect from Germany, only one year younger than me (46), and would be vacationing on the island for three glorious weeks! Jealous. Anyway, meeting Bettina was a turning point, as Miranda and Josh were to leave in a day or two, and she would be our constant companion until we had to leave ourselves.