Caribbean coast of the island

Challenges at Our First Long Term Stay

Challenges at Our First Long Term Stay

16/11/2018

My Space Issues

 It wasn’t about the dog poo you have to watch out for as you walk the streets or the language barrier or the heat of the intense burning sun that made me want to get out of this place as soon as possible. In fact two days in I started planing our exit out -lol! 

Mexico does have beautiful tropical beaches and it has lovely people and Isla Mujeres is a typical island community – sweet people and small town life. But there were some things that tested my tolerance threshold in those first few days 😉

It started when we arrived and found ourselves in a cosy little home on the island. On the map this place seemed to be close to everything. The ocean, a dairy, a pharmacy and most importantly a bakery – which I’m proud to say I still haven’t visited.

For those of you that have heard my moaning you know that one of my biggest accomodation issues in Auckland was having a three bedroom home with four children. Finding quiet while being in earshot of babies that wake up regularly in the night;,or allowing space for toys and mess that’s out of the main living spaces (I could go on) had its moments.

But the place we find ourselves in on Isla Mujeres is a two bedroom with a fold out couch. When booking the pictures looked much more spacious than it actually is.

In this place we have one double bed in each bedroom with very little space to spare around each bed. Plus we have a pull out couch that acts as a double bed at night. When we pull out the double bed it fills up the whole lounge room. We have to climb over the bed to get to the dining table. This bed reaches the kitchen. The mattress on it has springs with very little foam padding. This means that when lying on it I feel the springs on the bony parts.

I know this sounds like I’m whining but the kitchen and bathroom are also tiny. It feels like we’re in a campervan except this time I wasn’t mentally prepared for it.

When I thought about it, this place would work for a weekend or even a week. But we have booked one month here which I thought was a little too long for the type of living space that it is. There is no privacy in the confinement of this Airbnb, except when everyone is sleeping or everyone is noisy – so private calls are out.

Looking at the Bright Side

The older two have not complained once about the confined quarters. The younger two though have needed more stimulation than what the dimensions of this place allows. It doesn’t have an outdoor area that I could let them play in. Thankfully there is a wonderful playground nearby and a covered soccer court (not field). That is definitely helping with my cabin fever.

As I walked around the neighbourhood I began to realise that we were living in a big place. Some of the folk in this area have one room, a kitchen and a bathroom for their family.

I’ve adjusted to its charm now and we have learnt to cook, study, work, play and clean by putting these away immediately and keeping activity indoors to a minimum while getting outside whenever its cool.

It has helped us to appreciate what we had and how spacious that was. It also helped to define our minimum requirements for comfortable living when we plan our one month stays.

This place has also made me grateful that I have the option for bigger and more luxurious. 

We have the ocean in walking distance for some Caribbean Sea breeze. 

We have an estuary across the road for a hit of nature. We have a playground super close by for the young ones. 

We have great wifi. And a few days ago we got hot water showers. Plus there’s still La Pañería (the bakery) to go explore. Life is good:)

Our Glimpse of Isla Mujeres

Frigate flying high - these birds with large wing spans (some upto 3 metres) cannot walk or swim. They are mostly found soaring really high above the island or perched on a tree in the evenings.

Wildlife in Isla Mujeres

Wildlife in Isla Mujeres

11/11/2018

I’ve often found knowing less about a place before arriving creates lots of wonderful surprises. In Isla Mujeres, one of these surprises is the wildlife.

Iguanas

The iguana lizard flourishes on this island and can be spotted regularly in spite of urbanisation. We visited Hacienda Mundaca and found it was overrun with iguana. And when we went to Garafon there were lots about to keep the kids engaged and partially freaked out when they were eating.

House Lizards

As in most hot climates, their tends to be one or two house geckos living inside your place. We had one in the kitchen, one in the lounge and sometimes one in one of the bedrooms. Plus there were at least three outside the front door. Our little ones loved spotting them if they came out of hiding. They would sometimes fan out their neck or bob their head up and down and every so often would call out to let us know they were there.

Pelicans

On Playa Nota the pelican bird is a common feature to the beach where you can snap photos of the birds diving into the water or perched on a breaker.

Frigates

These amazing birds cannot swim or walk. They fly high above the lake or ocean and dive down grabbing fish with their strong legs. They spend most of their time flying around but when they perch, they prefer the nearby mangrove trees. Because we were next door to the lake we saw many frigates flying here in the morning.

Other animals we’ve spotted

We were lucky enough to see one of the smallest birds on the island. To the unknowing eye it looks like a butterfly fluttering speedily by. Unfortunately, we didn’t capture a photo of it. There were also plenty of other beautiful birds. On a couple of walks we spotted a shell crab crossing the footpath.

Our Glimpse of Wildlife Around The World

Playground we mostly visited at night

Our Playtime at Isla Mujeres

Our Playtime at Isla Mujeres

11/11/2018

The Playgrounds

Islas Mujeres has great playgrounds and quite modern. 

Where we stayed near La Gloria was a new facility that had an outdoor stage, two soccer courts and a playground. We enjoyed going here when it was cool enough so that we could stretch our legs and play. The playground we visited almost daily had slides and see-saws and two pirate ships. It had slides for two days but the quality of materials being used on the playgrounds means that they do not last long. 

One of the great things about this area was that cleaners were in every morning cleaning up rubbish. That was important because a lot of people used the playground in the evenings and late at night so the bins would get full and then people would start dumping rubbish anywhere, in spite of all the “No tirar busar” signs.

There was one playground that was locked until after school hours and then it stayed open til well after 9pm. The locked one had toilets and sold snacks. We had to sign in every time we visited, which was often because it was opposite the laundromat I used.

The Soccer Courts

One of the outdoor soccer courts was covered which was great when it rained, or more importantly in the heat of the day, for us to play or exercise (although we probably could’ve done more of the exercise part 😉

On Thursday nights there was a soccer league in the uncovered soccer court which was a bit like indoor soccer rules because they were allowed to kick the ball off the side walls.

After school there were often kids hanging out here or playing soccer, it was definitely the most common sport we saw on the island.

Hometime Play

Because we spent a month on Isla we had a lot of downtime at home while the older two were studying. Being in such a tiny place we didn’t have much space to spread out so we had to be creative about how we entertained our little two. We also had the problem of using up a lot of plastic water bottles and having no recycling on the island. So most or our home play involved construction with blocks and designing vehicles with water bottles. I also called on my Playcentre forum to help with ideas. Heres what we came up with.

Waterfalls down the stairs where each bottle catches water from the step above. My daughter in her brilliance put a lid on the bottom bottle (not something I usually do when I have the hose constantly running) so the young ones learnt to take the bottle from the bottom step and carry it to the top to refill the waterfall. This saved me having to go back and forth from the kitchen tap for refills.

We tried drumming on the bottles, sometimes with water in bottles and mostly without. It was pretty noisey so we didn’t encourage this one much 😉

We made buckets out of the base of the bottles and used them in the shower. They often got into the shampoo bottle to make bubbles.

They requested lots of vehicles including submarines, air craft carriers, car ferries, planes and trucks. They also used my daughter’s creations as a light house and an air traffic control tower.

Outdoor excursions

Although we did beach trips, they were not frequent because we enjoyed our at home time. To keep ourselves moving about after being stuck in a tiny home, we would spend a morning or evening walking around the neighbourhood. We were close to the laguna (lake) which was shady from the mangrove trees and we could bird or lizard watch. Check out our wildlife post for more images. 

We also would do coastal walks and found a tiny nook of a beach on the east coast facing the Caribbean Sea where we could play on the sand with shells and rocks while having the whole beach totally to ourselves. The entrance is somewhere close to Isla Contoy and Calle Lizeta on the waterfront. I had so much time I checked out each little pathway to find a way down to the water.

Having said that, any of those pathways will take you to a rock where you can sit and enjoy the sunrise, at least until the little one gets restless and you have to start walking again 🙂

Our Glimpse of Playtime Around The World

Helicopter

Vehicles in Isla Mujeres

Vehicles in Isla Mujeres

11/11/2018

Rescue Vehicles

Being a small island community there was not much need for rescue vehicles but we still managed to find some. Two blocks from where we were staying was a police station so we saw Policia vehicles every time we went to the supermarket.

Delivery Vehicles

We were staying next door to a dairy (convenience store) and every day there were delivery trucks parked outside our place. Some of the drivers used to blast Mexican music which is how we knew they were there. The delivery trucks were relatively small on Isla Mujeres. There were many three wheeler bicycles and motorbikes that would go around the neighbourhood selling stuff. They would blow a horn or call out to let people know they were nearby.

Taxis & Other Vehicles

Because there are no buses on the island we caught taxis to places that were far away. All the taxis are red and you can hail them as they drive past. Lots of people would share taxis if they were going in the same direction. We couldn’t because there is six of us.

The rubbish trucks came every day and were much smaller than what you would see in a big city.

The golf carts were common for getting around but some people hired cool looking quad carts.

Boats and Ferries

The best way to the island is by ferry. There were many ferries that ran every day from the mainland to Isla Mujeres including car ferries. There were also lots of boats that tourists would take to check out beaches or snorkelling areas. We took a little 12 person boat to go snorkelling along the west coast of the island. There was Navy base on the island so often Naval ships were parked close to the ferry building in the Navy docks.

Helicopter

Isla Mujeres is so small it doesn’t have an airport and the air traffic control tower for the runway is only two stories high. We didn’t see any planes on the runway whenever we drove past. But! On our last morning there we spotted this helicopter with two soldiers sleeping underneath.

Our Glimpse of Vehicles Around The World