April 25, 2006

A Sour Taste
Isla Mujeres, Mexico

My visiting friend Babak returned to Arizona this afternoon, most likely cursing all the way home.

A series of unfortunate events plagued Babak's 4-night Cancún holiday. Each day seemed to bring with it an incident that hurt him either physically, financially, or emotionally. Any one of these by themselves could have been manageable, but the daily drama pretty much forced us to stay in our hotel room for about 80% of his trip.

I said goodbye to Babak as his taxi dropped me off at a pier near Fat Tuesday's. For $165 pesos (US$15) I bought a roundtrip ferry ride to Isla Mujeres, an island a few miles off the coast of Cancún.

Isla Mujeres, which roughly translates into "Island of Women", is a narrow strip of land that's only a few miles long. I easily strolled across the widest part of the island in less than five minutes. What I can't seem to figure out is why my Lonely Planet guidebook likes this place so much.

Something is off balance with my happiness level, and I can't seem to put my finger on what it is. It's been growing for about a week now, and I wonder if this sour feeling that's beginning to consume me has something to do with the persistent tourist bubble that I've been in since I arrived.

I felt completely turned off as I walked around Isla Mujeres this afternoon. The Island of Women is nothing more than a big flea market, saturated with the same junk and pushy shopkeepers found in so many other places. The few streets that the island has are congested with hordes of (rented) mopeds and golf carts. I'm so not in the mood for this place.

I'm staying at the Poc-Na Hostel, a popular spot recommended to me by backpackers I've talked with and the guidebook in my pack, but I'm far from impressed. I feel like I'm getting ripped off paying MX$90/night for my bunk here. Compared to hostels I found in downtown Cancún for about the same price, this place really leaves me wanting.

One of the luxuries that the backpacker life affords me is the ability to evaluate and choose my home and my neighborhood on a daily basis. Having sampled Isla Mujeres, it's pretty safe to say I'll be moving on tomorrow morning.

I'm worried about where to go for my next destination though. With my days devoid of any real stimulating culture, I'm rapidly growing weary of these beach cities. I would be interested in taking a daytrip to a place like Chichén Itzá, but when I read that 5,000 tourists visit it every day, I quickly changed my mind.

I need to do something or go somewhere to balance the coastal towns that I should be enjoying on the way south towards Belize (like Playa del Carmen and Tulum). I'll try and figure something out before I head to the Cancún bus terminal tomorrow.

Comments:

Barbara

April 26th, 2006

Craig–get somewhere inspiring quick!

Jeff

April 26th, 2006

I went to Isla Mujeres at the end of a Central America backpacking trip in 2000 and didn't care for it either. The water's nice, but that's about it. I wasn't crazy about Tulum either, but maybe you'll find it better. I was sick and it was really hot (late June) when we were there, so that didn't help.

Guatemala I loved though, so if you're really in a funk you could just head down there quickly. Tikal is fantastic, and while it does get a fair number of tourists (though I'm sure not as many as Chichen Itza), it's large enough that it doesn't matter.

Dianne

April 26th, 2006

Hi, Craig. Chichen Itza is a really neat place to visit…but agree that if you're looking for something less touristy, that would not be the place for you now.

Mexico

Craig | travelvice.com

April 27th, 2006

Thanks for the suggestion Jeff!

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