Escaping Winter – Isla Mujeres in November

It is, as I mentioned in the previous post, nearly ten years since I last saw Isla Mujeres, now I am here and whilst some things have changed so much has stayed the same. Thankfully!

Isla still has that island vibe; that chilled out, calmed by the sea, bathed in the sunlight, bemused by the colours way of soothing the soul. You just feel the stress seep out if you. You feel it sewing up the great big rips in your heart.

Essentially this post is a picture postcard to the family back home, just to let them know all is well and I haven’t been eaten by a shark and I promise to get back on the plane home! Yes I am almost certain I will get on the plane home! Oh and I love my new GoPro camera and it loves Isla.

Enjoy the photos – can’t believe this is my November :-)

image Sunny November Morning
image Snorkelling near NaBalam
image How big is my Iguana? @garrafon de castille
image Sunrise at media luna beach
image Cliff of the dawn - Punta Sur Isla Mujeres
image Diving Manchones Reef

So, to the family; weather great, food amazing, wish you were here, really miss you all xxx

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Going back to the island….

Isla Mujeres Mexico Isla Mujeres by Mexonline
Isla Mujeres is a spit of coral and sand in the Caribbean Sea just off Cancun in Mexico. To me it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Blessed with powder white sand beaches Isla is surrounded by the most amazing coloured water, water of the clearest, palest, purest blue you have ever seen. Everyone who goes there talks about the colour of the water.

You get there by ferry from Cancun and it is, or it was, a million miles away in attitude from the flash and high rise of that particular party town. That’s me, always stepping off the beaten track!

I built a house there once, in the jungle, at the south end of the island, not far from the Mayan ruins of the goddess Ixchel, in a patch of jungle that was garlanded by butterflies in the day and the will o the wisp trails of glow bugs at night.

The last time I saw Isla was a summer night in 2005 when the humidity hung heavy in the Caribbean air and lightening was flickering far out to sea on the Bay of Mujeres. My husband Phil and I had just had dinner at Gran Puerto Cancun with our friends Katherine and Bruce and we had watched the sunset paint the sky over Isla Mujeres from our seats at the Alta Vista restaurant at the top of the lighthouse at the port.

As we waved Katherine and Bruce off that evening I remember watching them walk down the dock to the ferry, with the lights of Isla in the distance and I wondered if I would ever be here again because we had just sold our house on Isla, we were heading to Turkey and I didn’t know when we would be back.

I haven’t seen Isla since that day.

Phil never saw Isla again; he died in Turkey in 2008. I never saw Katherine again; she passed away early this year after a long and courageous fight against bowel cancer. The Alta Vista restaurant is closed after one too many hurricanes hurled itself at the tower but Isla is forever there, tucked away in a corner of my mind, waiting.

After Phil died I couldn’t go back to Isla, I couldn’t even look at pictures of it for a very long time. We liked and enjoyed and understood Turkey but Isla we loved and Isla was our special place. It was the first place we went on holiday together, it was the first place we dreamed our dreams and it was the first place we made those dreams happen. Just looking at pictures of the brilliant, blue shaded, waters around the island used to reduce me to tears.

I stopped reading my friend’s trip reports, I stopped keeping up to date on the island. I kept in touch with Katherine as she took on cancer but we didn’t talk about Isla. I never talked about Isla.

And then my Dad died and for no reason I understand I started thinking about Isla again. It started calling to me, across the seas, across the years, a call rolling up along the gulf stream from the Yucatan to the coast of Pembrokeshire. It said, “Come see me, it’s time.”

So I’m going back to the island, making the pilgrimage at last. I’m going to go play in the water, dive the underwater museum, see Silent Evolution, the ever growing crowd of statues that now colonises the sea floor off Isla, it wasn’t even an idea last time I was there, now it’s nearly six years old and becoming part of the ecosystem. I’m going to go watch them release the baby turtles into the autumn seas, go eat great food, maybe drink a few cocktails, go discover the island vibe again.

I’ve got a flight to Cancun and a ticket to the island and I’ve booked a few days at Na Balam which is a tiny little hotel on the beach that I have always wanted to stay at and then I’ll see where we go next. Maybe I’ll stay on the island, maybe I’ll move on, I’m traveling with hope but if Isla has changed beyond all recognition then that is cool too, at least I’ll see her one more time.


Before I head off to Isla I have a trip to London planned. I am lucky enough to be attending BlogFest 2014 where I get to meet other people who share my weird blogging habit.

Bloody hell, people like me, people who readily admit that they blog and don’t seem to be ashamed of it!

I’m looking forward to it, it’s a chance to socialise, a chance to listen to some great speakers including one of my favourite authors, Nick Hornby, and a chance to participate in debates and masterclasses. It’s exciting to be going; blogging is often lonley and whilst you get boosted by the lovely comments people make you don’t get to interact with people in person very often, or I don’t because I tend to live in weird places, so actually getting to spend time with other bloggers is going to be very, very interesting and cool and stops me feeling quite so odd!

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November Days and Nights Drawing In

the fort at lower fishguard Towards The Fort Lower Fishguard
This is the first November I have spent in the UK for nearly a decade….it’s bloody dark isn’t it!

The weather since February had lulled me into a false sense of security; a mild winter, a gorgeous early spring and a lengthy summer that shone on into October made me wonder what everyone had been moaning about during the years I was away. It all seemed rather nice, I wasn’t dying of heat stroke and the climate seemed very pleasant and manageable, bucolic even. And then the clocks went back and the afternoons became very long evenings and the rain started and hasn’t stopped and the leaves migrate into the house with every footfall and open door and the dogs have started sleeping late and pretending that they really don’t need a wee because outside is yuck and they just don’t have the coats for it.

I shouldn’t complain, I love the sound of the storms in the night, the rain lashing against the windows, feeling all cosy and tucked up in my bedroom (being exfoliated by the new kitten who has cat breath is not so cosy admittedly).

the grove at narberth The Grove at Narberth

lunch at the grove narberth Lunch at The Grove
I love the brief breaks in the weather that let us get out and about under dramatic skies and when it does rain there are long lunches to enjoy at our favourite restaurants where the welcome is warm and they don’t throw you out into the cold at 2pm on the dot. (The Grove in Narberth, I’ve mentioned it before, I’ll probably mention it again, it just has the whole genuine welcome/fantastic food thing sorted!)

But I have to admit, the thought that these dark days will actually go on for months is a bit of a downer. Right now it has a certain novelty value but not being able to get out in the garden and plant the remaining hundreds of spring bulbs is a bit trying and the thought of having to clear the gutters for the second time in a month is a bit grim and we’re not yet into the anticipatory glittery glowiness of Christmas which is at least pleasantly seasonal and has the hope of clean, bright snow.

As it is only the first week of November I’m not yet ready to dive headlong into Christmas just to brighten my world up. It’s all a bit too soon despite the urgent playing of carols in the shops as they packed away the Halloween stuff, and after the year we’ve had I am longing for my first proper Christmas back at home to be a good one so I don’t want to peak too soon!

So I think I am going to skip the rest of November in the UK, it’s time to leave my Pembrokeshire haven for a bit, hit the road again, go follow the sun and then come back and really indulge in a proper family Pembrokeshire Christmas of log fires and huge meals and bracing walks by the sea (with a suntan).

lower town fishguard Lower Town Fishguard
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