The Island of Women

We had a decent sail from Havana to Mexico.  We sailed from Havana down the west coast to about 30 miles south of Cabo San Antonio and then crossed over to Mexico.  We were trying to put the Gulf Stream on our beam, but we think we turned just a bit too early.  As we got about 10 miles from the western edge of the stream, we had to point into it and the 4 knot current slowed us down.  In the stream it was a bit like a washing machine as the seas were confused, but as soon as we got out of it, our speed picked up by 2 knots and the seas smoothed out.   We got into Isla in the early afternoon and had no problem getting our anchor to stick.  We had decided on the passage over that we were going to treat ourselves to a good meal when we got there, so we got JoJo re-stowed after the passage (there is always stuff that flies around, sail covers to be put back on, etc),   showered, and went off to find some steak!  We were all craving red meat!!
Colorful Souvenirs
Isla Mujeres is a really cute little town.  It is a bit touristy, with what we called “restaurant row” and has lots of souvenir  shops selling hammocks and colorful pottery.   I think their biggest business, however, is renting golf carts to the tourists! 
We scoped out a great place to eat and started with a monster salad, complete with goat cheese.  Josh settled on a cheeseburger, Maria had a steak and mashed potatoes, and I had a steak fajita with lots of peppers and onions.  It was so good!  And, of course, we had to try a margarita! 
The next day we started our clearing in process (took a total of 4 days!).  We also saw our friends Scott and Jada on Seadition that we had met in Cuba.  They were at the El Milagro Marina.  We hung out there and got caught up with them.  Over the next few days, Maria helped them out with their hydraulic steering and windlass issues.  They in turn cooked us a great dinner and hosted a big pot luck in which about 30 people showed up. 
Cruising on our golf cart
While we were there, Maria got an email from her friend Julie who just happened to be over in Cancun.  We talked  her and her friend, Kristen, into coming over to Isla Mujures.  We met them for some margaritas, took them out to JoJo, went for a dingy ride and then came back to JoJo where we cooked them up the last of our Cuban lobsters we had frozen.  It was a great day!  The following day, it was our turn to venture over to Cancun and hung out with them at their hotel…the RITZ CARLTON!  It was amazing!  We lounged  in the pool all day and then went into the locker rooms at the spa / gym and took 45 minute hot showers!  There are no words to describe how good that feels after you have been taking 2 minute showers for a year!
Josh, Maria, Niko  and I decided to be tacky tourists and rented a golf cart for the day to drive around the island.  Josh really wanted to drive, so we made him the designated driver.  He drove us out to the eastern point of the island, which was beautiful.  It was supposed to have a Mayan ruin on the tip, but all we could see where a couple of boulders!  We found a great private beach and let Niko run loose as we swam and enjoyed the sun.   We found a great cantina, which is a bar that gives you free appetizers  with your drinks.  This cantina, El Viejo y el Mar (The Old Man and the Sea)  was bright yellow and had a 2 story high thatched roof.  There was Mexican music blaring and the women waitresses were all scantily dressed.  There were only locals in there and it was awesome!   We stayed there for a bit and then drove around the small island a bit more before returning the cart.  It is good to be a tourist every once in a while.
We had so much fun being tourists that we decided we’d do it again.  This time, we rented a car in Cancun (almost as crazy as driving in New York City, but all signs in Spanish) and drove two hours to Chichen-Itza to see the famed Mayan ruins.  It was very impressive. 
Castillo Pyramid at Chichen-Itza

The focal point is the towering Castillo pyramid, which is loaded with cosmological symbolism.  Its four sides contain 365 steps (depicting the solar year), 52 panels (for each year in the Mayan century as well as each week in the solar year) and 18 terraces (for the 18 months in the religious year). Sculptures of serpents run down the northern side.  During the spring and autumn equinoxes, the late afternoon sun strikes off the northwest corner of the pyramid and casts a series of triangular shadows against the northwest side, which some believe creates the illusion of a feathered serpent “crawling” down the pyramid. 

Playing Field at Chichen-Itza

There is a huge playing field where the Mayans played a game with a soccer-sized ball that had its own intricate rules and provided exciting competition for huge crowds of spectators. The enormous court where this game was played is the largest ever found and is lined with carvings that display the rules and details of the sacred game. One carving even shows the captain of the losing game being beheaded!

We walked around and saw many other impressive buildings.  Chichen-Itza is a massive site and takes a few hours to see everything.  They stopped people from climbing up the ruins a few years ago, so you have to see everything from the ground level.
Maria with Sr. Frog
We tried to drive to another site of Mayan ruins on the way back home, but got there too late.  We managed not to get too lost in Cancun and returned the car back to Hertz with no problem.   Then we just hopped on the ferry between Cancun and Isla Mujeres and made our way back to the boat.
During all of this, our other friends, Vicky and Ed on Boto showed up in the anchorage as they were headed back to Florida.  We had a great time hearing about their adventures, as they left Grenada in September and had already sailed to many of the places we will be going to this year, so we picked their brains quite a bit.  They decided to check out Cuba, by flying rather than taking their boat, so we volunteered to dog sit for Chula, their cocker spaniel.  Niko was happy to have a friend on board for a week.
Sadly, it was time for Josh to get back to “real life”.  So, after 6 months and countless ocean miles (he had joined us in Grenada), he flew back to the States.  It was great to have him on board and was a great help!
 I also went home for two weeks to surprise my Dad for his 70th birthday party and to spend time with my mom, sister and my favorite (and only) niece and nephew.  It was great to be home and I was also able to get a lot of spare parts and other knick knacks for the boat that we needed.  I’m not sure what Maria did back on the boat, other than hang out with her new found Aussie friends at the Marina Paraiso bar!  Pete, Keith and Troy did a great job entertaining her!

About a week after I returned to the boat, Maria’s parents, Harold and Nancy flew into Cancun to help take on our next adventure!  We were planning on sailing to Honduras and then to the Rio Dulce in Guatemala to hang out for hurricane season.  But, with all the extra hands, we decided that after Honduras, we would just keep heading south and go to Providencia and then Colombia and Panama.  It is always easier to do the longer passages with more people! 
We hung out for another week in Isla Mujures so they could explore a bit and to finish the odds and ends that needed to get done before we left.  We fueled up (diesel in Isla Mujures is some of the cheapest around at $2.95/gallon, compared to $4-5/gallon in other places) and were ready to get on our way.  The winds were light and on the nose.  That, coupled with a strong current also against us, we knew were going to be motor sailing.  But, we were only going to Cozumel, about 50 miles away, so it wouldn’t be too bad.  We got up early the next day and got on our way.