Still travelling with the Aussie girlies at this point! They had pre-planned their next stop to be Isla Mujeres. This is a place I missed out when I was in Cancún due to I don’t know what! So as I was enjoying being with Sera and Karen so much I decided to join them! – why the hell not, right?
To get to Isla Mujeres, we had to go back to Cancún to catch a ferry. This crossing takes about half an hour and is relatively inexpensive.
Isla Mujeres literally translates as Isle of Women, apparently named so when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century and they found numerous images of goddesses. I’m sure there are lots of other versions of the story as there seems to be for every place in Mexico.
We planned to spend 4 nights here in a hostel called Poc Na. We had been told it was THE place to be – and this appeared to be pretty accurate. The hostel itself has it’s own little restaurant and bar. It also has it’s own dive centre, an outdoor cinema, a spa, and it’s own private beach and bar complete with yoga classes and a volleyball pitch. They also provide live music and magic shows every other evening. Their main bar closes at 11 and everyone then makes their way through to the beach bar where parties continue until 3am EVERY NIGHT!
Needless to say, I don’t have much to actually write about during this post. No one needs to hear about any drunken antics.
I did, however, try my first ever scuba dive!!! This is something I have always wanted to do and the girls also wanted to do one here. It seemed like the ideal place to do it as there is an underwater museum just off the coast called Museo Subacuatico De Arte. This is basically an innovative project designed to counteract the effects of climate change on oceans and reef systems. Google it! I have no photos. It’s pretty funky though and the collections include a VW beetle sculpture that provides artificial nooks and crannies for marine life.
The actual dive was a bit of a failure as far as I was concerned. The team we went out with were fantastic and extremely supportive! I was, naturally, a little nervous but after a few skills tests in shallow water I felt my confidence building. Our dive was to only take us to 9ft but boy did I struggle! I have never had any problems with my ears but they were not for equalizing at all. I tried every technique on the way down only to be greeted with more and more pain…
I started to panic.
I was aware that everyone was down already and the other group on our boat was slowly making their way past me. I was torn between fear and determination. I’m sure you are all aware of how much I hate not being good at something. I wanted to cry. I started to heave into my regulator and this triggered the urge to remove it completely – what a fucking ridiculous idea 6 feet under!
The instructors were fantastic. Rikky stuck by my side for a while and was completely soothing with her patience and her eye contact with me. This made me all the more determined. She then had to leave me to join the rest of the group and complete buoyancy checks so Kevin took over. Kevin was my saviour! Gripping my hand the whole way and taking it so very slowly. Eventually, after several minutes my ears appeared to clear and I suddenly realised that I was at the bottom! Relief!! We shared a little celebration before making our way towards the museum.
Visibility was not at it’s best for our dive so suddenly, out of no where these statues loomed into sight. A surreal experience. A group of them stand together with a variety of expressions and stances, but all appear to be looking at you as you swim by. Fish dart and glide between them all, occasionally nibbling at the marine life that has adopted this new “home”. Before I knew it, our 40 minutes was up and we had to make our way up to the surface.
By this time the sea had become incredibly choppy and as soon as we clambered up onto the boat people were throwing up over the sides. I should mention here that despite the slight hangover we were each battling this probably would have happened anyway! I, somehow, managed to hold onto the contents of my stomach. But my ears – wow. I couldn’t hear in my left ear at all and I was aware of a very loud crackling and popping in my right ear. I was still in a small amount of pain as well.
We made our way to the next location for our second dive and I decided I probably couldn’t put my ears through it again so unfortunately, and now regrettably, I sat this one out. Along with two others, one with the same problem and the other who just felt too ill. Rikky had advised that the seasickness would be diminished once in the water again but this guy didn’t feel he could make it.
I realise that this sounds like a bloody awful experience. It wasn’t. I loved being down there in another world. It was incredible and it felt strangely intimate because of the experience shared as a group. I would love to be able to take it up as a hobby and potentially do my open water certificate but I’m not sure my body wants me to. I have been advised that it gets a lot easier with the more dives you do and many people have the same problem. Perhaps I shall try it again. Who knows!
It is something to tick off my bucket list either way! (I keep meaning to actually formulate a bucket list for this blog – I will get round to it soon!)
The rest of our time spent on this island consisted of wandering round a few stalls, lazing on the beach, making some fantastic friends, and partying until the early hours of each morning (the drinks were cheap so this wasn’t as extravagant as it sounds). We were also shown a fantastic spot for snorkelling.
I feel I should also bring up the story of the stolen phone and purse that many of you are aware of already.
One particularly fantastic night at Poc Na resulted in 15 of us not wanting the party to end at 3am. Skinny dipping was mentioned – my new favourite thing! Before leaving the hostel, I remember thinking I should put my bag in my locker – I didn’t need it! But suddenly, we were all rushed out of the hostel and I simply didn’t do it. Silly, I know! So we were all in the sea – starkers – and our clothes and bags were up near the trees, not far from the water. Some of us got out early and made their way back to the hostel. Another group then got out and were accosted by the Mexican police, 2 men and a woman. They were told to hand over their money or, if that wasn’t an option, they could pay with sex. Yes… sex!
Obviously, the girls handed over everything they had (about 700 pesos between them – £30) and made their way home, disturbed but relieved.
The rest of us were completely oblivious to the events that had taken place. By the time we returned to our belongings the police had gone through everything. Pockets were empty, phones were missing and bags had been raided for purses. I had a small amount of cash in my purse and two cards! Stupidly! I haven’t been carrying my cards around with me and have been keeping them locked up. However, I had taken both out with me that evening to book another night at the hostel and get some cash. What bad luck!
We went to the police station straight away in the hope that maybe we could get our stuff back, or at least pay a small fee for the return of the cards and phones. We were told to return in the morning. Karen and I made our way there early the next day and made a statement, the guy who dealt with us was very understanding but after a few hours wait we were told there was nothing they could do. They seemed to be aware of which officers it would have been and we were advised that they would lose their jobs – I sincerely doubt this.
Karen and Sera were absolutely amazing and I was so lucky to have them with me at that moment! I had a third card with me but Santander hadn’t confirmed that I was able to use my card yet. The girls did not hesitate to offer me whatever money I needed until I could access my bank and pay them back. My angels! It felt shit having to rely on someone in this way but I love them for it all the same!
We spent Christmas Eve on Isla Mujeres and we decided to splash out and go for a very lavish meal. Oh my! It was so delicious! I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but nearly all of us had steak, and it was huge and perfect and it cost us about £8. Win! An excellent way to start off our celebrations. We then continued to dance our way into Christmas Day with full bellies and tinsel in our hair!
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