Nice to see you all again! I’ve been MIA the past week because Sam and I took a trip down to Isla Mujeres, Mexico to visit my madre (she lives there). Those of you who don’t know where Isla Mujeres is located, it’s a small island off of Cancun. It’s about a 30 minute boat ride, only 5 miles long and a half a mile wide. Tiny, tiny, tiny.
Not many tourists actually know the island is there, which in a way is nice because if you want a true Mexico experience, go where the locals are. Not where all the American and Canadians go to get drunk and lay around the beach all day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that, but my idea of a vacation is to actually experience the culture and the country. But I noticed Isla is very up and coming right now with many tourists visiting for a day.
My grandparents used to own a condo in Cancun from the 80’s to the 90’s, and from the time I was born until I was about eight, I traveled with my mom to Mexico probably twice a year. When I was little, I always thought of Mexico as a second home because we vacationed there so much. The last time I was there I was fifteen, so this was definitely a visit I needed to make.
A little background story on Isla Mujeres my mother shared with us: it’s called the Island of Women. There is a section at the end of the island where they prayed before the Goddess of Fertility to bless their pregnancy and/or wished to become pregnant. I could have totally screwed up that background story, but you can go visit the old ruins at the end of the island where they prayed, which we got some really awesome pictures of the cliffs.
People always underrate Mexico because of the drug cartel, the lack of safety, and an overall uneasy feeling when traveling through the country. But to tell you the truth, the natives are actually very friendly people. My mom made a great point that the reason most tourists feel uncomfortable conversing with Mexicans is because they often feel they are getting ripped off money-wise. But what most tourists need to understand is that Mexicans work and work and work all day every day, and depending on their job, they are lucky they even make 10 or 20 dollars that day. They will sometimes work 12 hour days and make $0 because they may be getting paid through commission. Of course, this is always depending on the job.
One of my issues with tourists multiplying every year is the lack of respect they give to the natives. For example, a woman getting off the plane for Cancun was decked out in almost every piece of jewelry she owned. A big, gigantic flashy diamond ring. A chunky, sparkly silver necklace, diamond earrings. Tall, high-heeled boots with a dress and silky shawl. She stuck out like a sore thumb. This aggravated me because I knew exactly where she was going: the hotel strip of Cancun where she would spend a ridiculous amount of money at a hotel and restaurants, and most likely wouldn’t travel outside of that area. I know I’m being a judgmental, but it’s no surprise that most areas in Mexico actually look like a third world country. Why would you want to stick out like that? Why would you want to walk passed a little Mexican lady hanging her laundry to dry in front of her tin house after washing them in a tub of cold water? She could have at least attempted to blend in a little bit. It’s like flashing hundred dollar bills in their face when they barely have enough money to feed their families. And those tourists wonder why they feel they are being ripped off by the natives.
Anyways, enough of my rant. We had a great time hanging out at the beach where we snorkeled with a school of fish. Sam got to hold a shark (his proud moment). We went to the turtle farm, drove around in the golf cart, obviously drank way too many margaritas, and I got to see a 95-year-old lady out at a bar at 10pm getting her salsa on. And I will never forget the most glorious massage I got on the beach. A tip for those who have never been to Mexico, definitely try out those hole in the wall areas to eat food! We ate wonderful shrimp empanadas out of what looked like a garage with some plastic chairs thrown in there. The ladies make them right in front of you, and it’s about half of the price you would find at a regular restaurant, and way better!
All of these photos were taken by the wonderful Sam, so I pretty much stole them :).