A Travellerspoint blog

Losing Time on Isla Holbox: Part III

Day Five

34489262284_b03f3f8235.jpg

35332760495_43da3b4740.jpg

34945164050_e8208a3623.jpg

35165707372_50cfe69669.jpg

After a breakfast of fresh papaya juice and egg casserole with rustic potatoes and vegetables (and copious amounts of buttered bread), we decided to spend some time exploring the island.

35165732112_0b7e58e14e.jpg

35332765855_7dc3758812.jpg

Today was the only day that low tide was mid-day, allowing us a chance to visit the beautiful sandbar that we had heard about on the other end of the beach.

We rented a golf cart and set about our mini-adventure.

34945138420_b040e2abf7.jpg

35165680602_4333a33340.jpg

35202825141_c72a06cea6.jpg

35202620601_9589cbc5ec.jpg

34522140703_78dea1e0c0.jpg

A short ride down the beachfront took us to the “end of the road.” We found ourselves at Punta Mosquito, an endless shallow sea of impossibly clear water, sundrenched hammocks, and soft, sandy beaches with virtually no one in sight.

35165662972_c2783afc86.jpg

34522370313_3644d13f36.jpg

35332698845_76939441f7.jpg

34489206524_ac0ac16594.jpg

34489201494_a8e904034c.jpg

35202785531_3e9d1555ed.jpg

We spent the morning lounging in the clear water, chasing schools of tiny rays, and walking the extensive sandbar as far as we could go.

35165624692_fbb59245b3.jpg

35292637026_b1216c002c.jpg

34522259433_9b9d80ce81.jpg

35165617072_99a698679b.jpg

34945040130_d7b7f001de.jpg

34522326013_2176ccdfcb.jpg

34522315843_b5531b7110.jpg

34522310063_5a56cebc5e.jpg

34522287123_3552961d5b.jpg

34489096834_53bd7934a5.jpg

35165530642_b50b9dcf79.jpg

35165573622_008380e4c9.jpg

35292531816_75b7290ec9.jpg

34522213333_853842cfdf.jpg

35292583256_1fa03b1239.jpg

34522252913_c8912ef5c7.jpg

35332522055_2689485721.jpg

34489024184_f440436c73.jpg

35202656461_1852581e24.jpg

35332668695_72ab5281fd.jpg

This was the most activity we had encountered in 5 days, so we had to follow that with a trip to Barquito for cold beverages with a side order of blue-eyed puppies.

34944879500_ec86b6b076.jpg

35202643961_fb0e2abfbd.jpg

34488977424_5909bdc157.jpg

34522152423_b9de0121d0.jpg

35202629521_65623b8743.jpg

A ride through town took us past the colorful art that wove its way into every street corner and across every building.

35331834535_0be931f460.jpg

35165435812_63089a2b6e.jpg

35165425842_70a29f7727.jpg

35332409935_f9e02b2029.jpg

34522104143_f70caa692e.jpg

34944805070_035ab8fcf0.jpg

35202568131_61f3edfe1b.jpg

34522074023_dc37af6d24.jpg

35332357995_ed3c308936.jpg

34944766730_d40d635398.jpg

34522052403_929f6dca86.jpg

35332342505_fdfd25881a.jpg

We followed the road as far as it went in the opposite direction and found ourselves at Punta Coco, another shallow, deserted beach.

It seemed this tiny island had no limit to the sleepy beaches one could find a hammock and endless clear water.

35202527931_ef0d37094d.jpg

35332325605_ea08b942fa.jpg

34944739580_957aaac157.jpg

35292312026_8cd481dbac.jpg

35292303456_c05110d8e6.jpg

34488837604_1dd6cd1919.jpg

34488829024_3455ec0d60.jpg

35165266202_3b7e03beb1.jpg

35165253412_1eae2b271b.jpg

34488767214_e3f3be2a40.jpg

35292234396_5711435b3c.jpg

As we made our way back through town, we stopped for lunch at Viva Zapata. The restaurant was brightly painted with colorful murals and swings hung from the bar.

35202473761_9b149b1e78.jpg

35332287915_39fa465738.jpg

35202464381_0ed0c200d5.jpg

34944699580_c10f7aee74.jpg

35202438911_290249b7bb.jpg

34521958563_28db54b3ec.jpg

34944671610_b2f8bfc2d5.jpg

We grossly over ordered and found ourselves faced with a table full of food we couldn’t possibly eat: ceviche and chips, queso fundido with spicy chorizo, garlicky shrimp, chicken nachos covered in melty cheese, and a pile of guacamole.

35165195032_6cf39b0e80.jpg

35292242986_885d361fcd.jpg

We did our best, but eventually threw in the towel. Who were we kidding?

We waddled back to our beach and collapsed.

34488752344_e5268b6929.jpg

When we finally roused ourselves, we strolled into town for cocktails at Bar Arena, a rooftop bar in the center of town.

34944639930_fdfbec4e83.jpg

35202379021_2c7a0dab89.jpg

34944634630_b65a249a6a.jpg

34488728094_60a0887699.jpg

The drinks were creative and wonderful, the décor was very cool, and the breeze was a welcome respite from the evening heat.

They also served these wickedly addictive candy coated peanuts that we simply couldn't stop eating.

34944614100_0f31d6b754.jpg

35292195276_32efa14353.jpg

35202358071_e86230f6ec.jpg

34521895193_fc52d51d50.jpg

34944600470_11c622c1a6.jpg

34944591850_0976f90d60.jpg

35202345051_d2a23946a8.jpg

With no actual plans for dinner, we simply wandered through town looking for something that caught our eye.

34521869813_6f9e458eb7.jpg

35202312451_12bb159f5e.jpg

We decided to stop at La Parilla de Juan, which I had heard good things about.

As we climbed the stairs to the upper floor, we really weren’t sure what to expect.

35165091392_fccce3d693.jpg

We were pleasantly surprised by a very elegant, open-air restaurant with an outdoor terrace.

We chose to sit outside where we could watch the chef prepare the meats on the open fire.

35202234051_3b668cf3a2.jpg

35292117516_c174910442.jpg

While the restaurant is known for its pasta, the smell of grilled steak was almost more than we could bear.

We compromised with a lobster linquine and surf and turf, served with their amazing grilled bread and a caprese salad.

34944543680_19f0e3b1d6.jpg

35165064962_414edd6eb3.jpg

34944525150_fdac71b8dd.jpg

35332105845_204a23a55f.jpg

We continued to be amazed by the food offerings on Holbox.

Matt was ready to call it a night, but I had spent all week smelling the delicious crepes and marquesitas on the square each night as we passed by. When La Parilla informed us that they had run out of the apple pie, I knew tonight was the night.

Matt has always been perplexed by my inexplicable fondness for street food. If it comes out of the trunk of a car or is being whipped up on a greasy grill on the side of a highway, I’m all over it.

Sure, it has led to more than one bout with some serious digestive distress, but it has also resulted in some of my favorite food experiences.

My very soul needed a marquesita.

34521781943_d1a860565f.jpg

35165026452_4a9ca0107f.jpg

The combination of cheese and chocolate inside a crispy sweet crepe was more than I could resist. It sounded delicious and terrible all at the same time.

I took a bite.

It was a perfect combination of sweet and savory, crispy and soft at the same time. It was the best $1 I had ever spent.

My stint in the long marquesita line had made Matt thirsty, so we popped into Luuma for a couple of cocktails before heading back to Casa las Tortugas.

34488594074_591eee0314.jpg

34944474620_48a6a20d92.jpg

35292045816_eb7a1f6434.jpg

It was officially time to call it a night.

Day Six

35294319436_e61d5141fe.jpg

It was my favorite time of day: breakfast.

34944425120_22731fba5f.jpg

35202144531_6d5472c26d.jpg

35202137901_a977b64e15.jpg

“What day is it?” Matt asked lazily, taking a sip of his fresh watermelon juice as we waited for breakfast to arrive. I watched as a big drip of condensation lazily made its way down the side of the glass.

“Wednesday. No, wait, Thursday. Friday?”

We had discovered that it was easy to lose time on Holbox.

35332045085_14567a4fe4.jpg

The name means “black hole.” The name originally came from the very deep, very dark lagoon found on the island, but I think the name more accurately describes the way you can simply vanish here. I felt like we were disappearing into a void of sunshine and chilled tequila….never to be seen again.

We had settled into the languid rhythm of the island. Days seemed longer. Nights seemed later. Our hair was getting lighter. Our skin was getting darker. The water felt warmer. Drinks tasted colder.

Life was sweeter.

34488570304_efc6351ff8.jpg

34521684723_b08fc2e5ab.jpg

34488556954_33dbf9956d.jpg

35332005285_f651420f91.jpg

There was sand and sun, but something was different. Something really set this place apart from anything I had ever experienced…The people. The food. The sounds. The slow warmth of it spread into your limbs until you felt you could simply fade into the soft cotton of your daybed.

It really seemed that time had stood still here on Holbox. Maybe that was why we weren’t even sure what day it was.

35164933392_2072047051.jpg

34944369880_f2be910d14.jpg

35291968546_febd004d82.jpg

35331944385_2836cf2992.jpg

I spent the entirety of our last day at Casa las Tortugas in my bikini. I never put my shoes on. I wasn’t even sure where they were at this point. I smelled like honey and coconut oil.

I tried to keep a cocktail in my hand at all times. If I felt too lazy, someone from Mandarina would bring it to me.

Our day was spent on the horizontal, alternating between a hammock, a soft shady daybed, and a thatched-roof palapa near the beach.

34488459014_fc4c4f4438.jpg

34521616363_9683ce659b.jpg

35164854502_d781defb1e.jpg

35164883622_59057b0bc1.jpg

34488384994_771ed11124.jpg

35202033451_28fa04df2e.jpg

34488469844_66c86f9805.jpg

35331856445_8e7c56aa4c.jpg

It was official. We had come undone.

In the late afternoon we roused ourselves long enough to grab some cocktails at a nearby beach bar and find some lunch.

35331915765_b8e8ec65a1.jpg

34944280950_b22935c394.jpg

34488397364_cfb8ddf056.jpg

35291864626_81daf408a3.jpg

35202010841_263a448165.jpg

34488391104_4240bc8f9a.jpg

35291811316_5b44112d52.jpg

We enjoyed a late afternoon lunch at Pizzeria Edelyn to try the famous “lobster pizza” that the island claims you can’t leave without sampling.

Our consensus was that we probably could have left the island without sampling it.

It was fine, it just wasn’t worth prying ourselves off our beach chairs for.

34944204960_f324a22f0a.jpg

34488352574_aa5c0870a5.jpg

35201947261_d04e8ff6a5.jpg

It was worth the walk, however, simply to find the only salon in existence that specializes in that "Duran Duran" look.

34521482293_308afd2d9e.jpg

We enjoyed our final sunset with cocktails at Casa Sandra’s small beachfront bar. A mariachi band strolled down the sand. Dogs played at our feet.

It was bittersweet.

35331822685_eac38f150f.jpg

34488301154_023d6d84a8.jpg

34944171680_78dc40eca4.jpg

35291733506_8f05f444f3.jpg

35201868241_2b115af855.jpg

34944176660_38a6076c3b.jpg

35291729306_72b4b48e0d.jpg

We had decided to have our final dinner at El Chapulim.

Rated #1 on nearly every travel site for Holbox that existed, I felt certain this place would be overhyped.

And we were late.

Everyone knows that if you want to eat at El Chapulim, you show up early. They don’t take reservations and the chef prepares a set amount of exactly 4 entrees each night. When you arrive, if you are lucky enough to be seated, the chef comes out to tell you what he has prepared. Your order is taken, and your food is brought out to you in minutes.

I had read that you must arrive by 6:30 if you wanted to get a seat. It was almost 8:00. I knew we would be turned away in shame.

As luck would have it, we were seated. And we were the last ones that got a table.

35201824671_e68ce4e68b.jpg

35201840021_f5d6c9c196.jpg

35291684896_f0e7448fd3.jpg

It was Holbox magic.

We had eaten a lot of good meals on the trip. Matt and I both agreed that this was easily one of our best overall food vacations, with the only exceptions being Greece and Italy. The meals had been outstanding.

El Chapulim was the best meal of the trip.

It really lived up to the hype.

Maybe it was the chef’s dog laying under our table. Maybe it was the glow of candlelight that made everything seem magical. Maybe it was just the remnants of the tequila haze that I had lived in for the past week.

34488266484_f92c6d108b.jpg

35291662556_7e942f89e4.jpg

34521416843_5ce4c54e56.jpg

But everything about our dinner seemed perfect.

It was the perfect way to end this trip.

Day Seven

34944087320_2f89f7d91c.jpg

We couldn’t believe it was our last Mandarina breakfast. We went big, not only ordering the fruit and the omelet, but tackling a giant plate of banana and Nutella waffles too.

We had to leave Mexico.

We were getting fat.

34521414043_80e850686b.jpg

34488165784_e9eba4152a.jpg

35291578806_6a329996b0.jpg

35201734291_c26dc309a2.jpg

35291565866_eacce7b9bb.jpg

We had time to take one last look around.

34944046730_3e2fa573d0.jpg

35201777331_92304fc612.jpg

35164562402_a845549edb.jpg

34944003780_7edc9a9dfc.jpg

34521409633_da4baf9ef0.jpg

35331700435_9806eb6251.jpg

34521349263_7e796f0a2d.jpg

35201723921_d73c1659cf.jpg

35164572832_946a0d41b3.jpg

34944017120_7de76c6220.jpg

We had arrived a week ago not really knowing what to expect. We had not found cookie-cutter luxury. It was not a Four Seasons.

Holbox’s edges were rough, but the simple beauty of it shone anyway. There was a gypsy sensibility, an undercurrent of rustic stylishness, and a touch of “beach chic” everywhere we looked. It’s an island of sleepy days and mellow sunsets.

Holbox was lazy. It was vibrant. It conjured images of colorful art, wild flamingoes, and endless palapas rustling in the breeze.

I could still taste the smoky mescal and tangy ceviche and feel the gritty sand between my toes.

We had found an unspoiled island that combined awe-inspiring encounters with nature, true Mexican hospitality and a laid-back European vibe. We found fishermen and wooden boats falling apart at the water’s edge, random dogs lying under our feet at even the nicest restaurants, and an uncomplicated simplicity that we found irresistible.

As I packed to leave, I realized I didn’t even know where my shoes were, and that made me happy.

We’re back home now and Holbox is a distant memory, fading more with each workday.

But somewhere, on a remote stretch of underdeveloped paradise on the Yucatan Peninsula, a swaying hammock waits for my return. 

34489180744_b2e2810c06.jpg

Posted by vicki_h 18:24 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico island tropical holbox isla yucatan_peninsula quintana_roo Comments (3)

Losing Time on Isla Holbox: Part II

Day Three

:

By the third day, we had pretty well established a routine of swinging lazily on a daybed by the ocean until our stomachs began to rumble. We then wandered lazily, without shoes, over to Mandarina, selected a table, and slipped into the soft cushions of a sofa as we stared out at the emerald sea and listened to the palms rustle above our heads.

34489781014_3e940f4636.jpg

One of the sweet, attentive wait staff would tell us the juice selections of the day and ask which we wanted, bringing that along with coffee and tea. Shortly after, our basket of bread would show up with soft butter and jam.

We sipped and munched, watching random dogs play at the water’s edge until our breakfast selections arrived – always the fruit for Matt (what is WRONG with him??) and the hot breakfast for me.

This morning it was a toasted ham and cheese with a boiled egg. Delicious. I was seriously enjoying the daily breakfast at Casa las Tortugas. It was a lazy and decadent affair.

34489786364_e69a574ff9.jpg

35203415331_ac95dfe63f.jpg

There wasn’t a lot to do on Isla Holbox. I knew this going in, and, as this isn’t our norm, I had warned Matt that this vacation was about forced relaxation, not finding a lot to do.

As such, our days followed a pattern of lazy mornings on the beach at Casa las Tortugas with a break for lunch, only to return and spend the afternoon lazing about in the pool or napping on a beachfront daybed.

35166166352_cf6901543b.jpg

35166158742_e3bab1dcb8.jpg

34522895083_309c6fd059.jpg

35293232906_1f69f78e09.jpg

35293227046_4719d2e0f8.jpg

34522868183_63bbeeaa54.jpg

34945633100_c5bb9d97f9.jpg

We found ourselves moving more slowly. Then slower still. We were adjusting to the slow rhythm of this island and our bodies needed it.
We were sun drunk and it was heavenly.

34489758704_7e4daf1824.jpg

34489744874_00a58b51e7.jpg

34489728164_5a19db66d4.jpg

34945611490_a19de665cd.jpg

35293187206_43662a14eb.jpg

Because laying in semi-catatonic state for hours on end really works up an appetite, we decided to walk the hot, sandy streets to Colibri, an insanely colorful restaurant on a busy corner of town.

35203334861_b6988f0c33.jpg

35293081406_c5c6684546.jpg

35293075036_dfb5fe14d0.jpg

34522821293_7326ccd58b.jpg

35203312531_2a622bb05c.jpg

34522806353_9b1ec93e40.jpg

35333142375_905a2a2900.jpg

34489687694_ffc9599ff6.jpg

35333181665_fd72287ed8.jpg

35293143066_5faab5e301.jpg

34945546790_38bf8811fc.jpg

35203293961_a250ece011.jpg

It was too hot to sit outside, so we opted for an indoor table by the open doors with a breezy fan blowing overhead and walls plastered with Frida Kahlo portraits, dreamcatchers, and bright paintings. It was tacky cool.

34489665564_2803835c7f.jpg

34489656954_ba58cdf426.jpg

Colibri, a family-run restaurant just off the main town square, was painted all colors under the sun, both inside and out. It immediately made me happy. The interior was a vibrant mish-mash of paintings, bird murals, Mexican sugar skulls and kitschy table cloths.

Even the sangria was exploding with color.

34489649474_8894879ab6.jpg

We enjoyed ceviche, garlic shrimp, and chicken enchiladas oozing with gooey cheese along with one of their colossal margaritas.

34945532720_226edfc681.jpg

34489644414_29ff0792bc.jpg

35333153005_dd9f44daa8.jpg

35203266811_12e1cf9575.jpg

As we made the very hot walk back toward Casa las Tortugas I saw two words that literally made my heart jump:

Air Conditioning.

That’s how we found ourselves inside Porque No, Holbox’s tiny ice-cream shop even though we were so full we felt like ceviche was about to come out our noses.

It was a hardship, but I managed to choke down a chocolate and coconut cone in order to spend a few blissful minutes in air conditioned comfort.

35203239991_07683379c4.jpg

35203237261_1b5293ac60.jpg

The afternoon was a warm haze of sun, sea, sand, and sips.

35203233061_1ac7932df2.jpg

34945463850_81599197d4.jpg

34945448200_ec704ca7f3.jpg

35203223161_b858217425.jpg

34945455930_b4351b7a69.jpg

35293040036_57d9534b1e.jpg

The closest thing to a “schedule” that we found on Holbox was our tendency to find someplace for a sunset cocktail each evening, somewhere to watch as the sky turned sherbet-hued and the water turned to mercury. In the evenings, we would always hear someone blowing a conch shell, a low moan that carried across the island.

We began our sunset cocktails back at Huacalito at Casa Iguana, because we had loved the carefully crafted mango margaritas and passionfruit caipirinhas.

34489588004_5eb0a7792a.jpg

35293028366_da20d6e23b.jpg

34522723453_bc72ce9bc2.jpg

34489576524_714c2dd582.jpg

35333072975_4921832ab5.jpg

34489563814_f3531e9757.jpg

34522709403_008533dd36.jpg

We followed that with a trip back to Il Chiringuito because it looked like it was actually going to be clear sky with a spectacular sunset. I loved the laid back hippy-vibe of the place and Matt had fallen in love with the creamy mango cocktail that the bartender made slowly and carefully.

35203137151_52ee8f4248.jpg

34489546464_b8b15b6195.jpg

35333051265_fa7f44ffba.jpg

34522696153_d5c45f4ac6.jpg

35165980262_457bff23e4.jpg

35203145831_eb4c91d2fd.jpg

34489537324_4c2a94f43a.jpg

35203134841_da85531cce.jpg

34489524114_af78671e1a.jpg

35203123311_e129b54e1b.jpg

35165948602_b61c0f81ed.jpg

As the sun dipped into the sea, we considered our dinner options.

We decided to discuss it over more cocktails at Luuma. The trendy upscale tapas and cocktail bar had wowed us on our first night, so we wanted to return to see if that was simply a mirage generated by travel fatigue.

The intimate alfresco restaurant was just as enchanting as we remembered. The crowd was stylish and the décor was inspiring. The beautiful garden was scattered with locally hand-crafted tables, mismatched chairs and sofas, wicker pendants and Buddha statues. The effect was bewitching.

34522645103_2a67ae3a81.jpg

34489490824_9cce8dfa9d.jpg

35165914332_d08a3691df.jpg

As our cocktails were prepared, I took a moment to stroll through the adjacent boutique, Le Bazaar, where I found designer treasures and one very spoiled dog.

We ordered “snacks” again and were presented with another huge platter of exceptional food, despite the small price tag.

The “earth platter” featured several grilled meats – steak, lamb, duck, and house made sausages as well as spicy patatas bravas.

35292949426_5af1390fcc.jpg

We were so full after leaving Luuma, that we decided to simply grab a wood fired pizza from newcomer Roots pizza.

I was several cocktails in and a long way from my high school Spanish, so I literally had NO IDEA what I ordered. I saw the word “peperoni” and latched onto it.

34945357980_b3b87ced80.jpg

That pizza was AMAZING.

Thin, crispy-chewy, and covered with a delightful combination of zesty cheese, pepperoni, black olives, and fresh zucchini – it was just what we needed.

35292920006_cc01b3591a.jpg

35332951565_26b520a570.jpg

We licked the salty greasy from our fingers as we wandered hand in hand down the streets of Holbox.

Day Four

:

It was Matt’s birthday, so routines had to be broken. Our lethargic stupor was interrupted by an actual alarm clock rousing us at 6:00 so that we could make it to a scheduled whale shark tour that we had booked for the day.

While the light breakfast that was provided was delicious and completely adequate….I wondered wistfully what I was missing at Mandarina. What if they were serving chilaquiles?

After a breakfast of fresh made yogurt, hot mango pastries straight from the oven, and fruit, we were guided to our boat. We were going looking for the elusive whale sharks.

34522612813_48205e7dc4.jpg

34522610673_eff005bd59.jpg

On Holbox, they call it the Domino Effect – Whale sharks are affectionately called dominoes due to the pattern on their backs. These gentle giants migrate to the waters off Holbox from May through September and several tour operators offer visitors the chance to swim with these placid beasts.

I knew the chance of finding one so early in the season was unlikely, but I thought actually finding one would make for an amazing birthday.

Let’s just say…..the whale shark tour was not exactly what we expected.

While the weather had been exceptionally beautiful for our entire trip, this, of course, was the ugliest day we had seen yet. Ominous black clouds thickened on the horizon as 8 of us climbed onto the small boat.

Knowing that the ride to where the whale sharks were supposed to be found was approximately 2 hours over rough seas, I expected a bigger, more comfortable boat. The boat was relatively small with nothing but hard benches for minimal seating.

We piled in, expectations high.

To say the 2 hour ride was rough is an understatement. There is a way to boat on rough water that won’t kill your passengers, but our boat captain apparently lacked this special bit of knowledge, evident by the manner in which he pushed the boat forward at maximum speed, no matter how drenched the passengers got or how violently they were bounced around.

I tried holding on, but between the violent waves and the slippery hard seat, I was flying up and down more than a hooker’s underpants. After the 116th time I brutally smashed down on the hard bench, the captain suggested I move to the back of the boat. While the movement was less, the water was more. I was getting drenched again and again with salt water.

Matt and I looked at each other with pity, unsure who was more miserable.

35165879612_f0da4f5eb0.jpg

35332938125_2736830b31.jpg

After the miserable 2 hour ride, we reached the area where the whale sharks tend to show up and began searching. Back and forth. Forth and back. The boat made endless circles in search of the great beasts.

Of course, they were nowhere to be found.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, the black clouds tripled and a hole literally opened up in the sky and dumped everything it had on our heads. The rain was so heavy, we couldn’t see 10 feet past the boat. This only increased the waves.

All we could do was sit helplessly, still, and hope it passed.

At this point, I was pretty sure my tailbone was no longer attached to my spine, Matt was a wet mess, and two other passengers were vomiting loudly off the sides of the boat.

Oh, joy!

I looked at Matt and shouted over the wretched puke noises, “Isn’t this the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER?????”

He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.

Not only had this been the single most miserable boat ride in the history of EVER, we were going to have to go all the way back without even seeing the stupid whale sharks.

And that’s when it happened.

Right in the middle of the moaning and the rain and the vomiting…..a whale shark was sighted.

Our moment of jubilation was immediately squashed when we were informed that 1) Only 2 of us could get in the water at a time, 2) You could only be in the water for 1 minute, and 3) After 2 of us got in, we had to get in the “back of the line” before the next 2 could go.

I looked at the 24 boats that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and surrounded us.

The process was basically this: Two people jumped in the water, swam with the shark for 1 minute, got back in the boat, and then our boat moved to the back of the boat line. Approximately 30 minutes later, we’d be back at the front of the line and 2 more could get in the water. We had 8 people. You do the math.

A long, boring hour and a half later, that was filled with bouts of vomiting from other guests, Matt and I got our turn.

Don’t ask me how I had managed to wait and hour and a half for this moment and then wasn’t ready when it came….but I wasn’t.

Before I knew what was happening, I was shoved in the water, GoPro in hand. All I saw was a massive mouth coming straight toward me.

I was simply in awe. I was frozen. The camera in my hand was forgotten as the massive gentle monster glided straight toward me and turned, moving about 2 feet from my face – his massive spotted side slipping past my face as I simply stared stupidly.

I suddenly remembered the camera about the time his tail passed me and I snapped one pathetic photo.

35292902826_b28d720430.jpg

And then our minute was up. The shark was gone and it was someone else’s turn.

But….wow.

At least all the suffering was for something, right?

While the whale shark swimming hadn’t been quite what I expected, it was still something memorable. My vision had been that we’d be the only boat and we would spent abundant time frolicking in the waves with the sharks.

Not so much.

The rain had stopped and we were all soggy and slightly broken, but happy. At least we had seen one.

I was looking forward to the other parts of the day that the trip had promised – a beachside lunch of freshly prepared ceviche, a snorkel stop at an abundant reef filled with turtles and stingrays, and a visit to the island’s famous flamingoes.

Our first stop was the “snorkeling reef.” I am not sure how they define a reef, but all Matt and I found were endless stretches of sea grass. The “turtles and sting rays?” No. Just tons of weird looking catfish.

Boat ride? Fail.

Snorkeling? Fail.

34489350474_fcbf6b089e.jpg

35202959161_b2c1e111bc.jpg

34489336434_31507b7651.jpg

Maybe the beach picnic would make everything right with the world.

As we passed miles and miles of stunningly beautiful deserted beaches, I was baffled when we finally stopped, not at a beach, but at the marshy lagoon found in the island’s interior. This was….unexpected. It was not stunningly beautiful.

34945318960_2ea8bed4e2.jpg

34489433084_afcb05d796.jpg

35203039641_8acf8d62f1.jpg

34489425374_86dbca1450.jpg

34489418344_acf7dc6104.jpg

34522558783_555dd1046f.jpg

34489384914_2392be7c67.jpg

34489408024_ff4e7f8851.jpg

35165843602_06a30b19e7.jpg

35165825542_e9fd57a7e1.jpg

35292848046_343f9fe136.jpg

35332881175_d9962ce61c.jpg

34489371074_0d8ea22589.jpg

35292803566_bea9725547.jpg

While we all walked around and explored our less than amazing surroundings, our captain made us ceviche for lunch.

The ceviche was extremely good, but we had to eat it without utensils.

34489358374_1b6cff4fa8.jpg

It would have been better if they had given us a fork or spoon, but in the effort of ecotourism, we were supposed to use only tortilla chips to scoop up the bits of zesty fish and peppers. This would have worked fine if they hadn’t had ONE BAG OF CHIPS FOR 10 PEOPLE.

I had 4 sorry little chips.

Still delicious, even if it was awkward as hell.

Beach? Fail.

Lunch? Fail.

There was one last vestige of hope: the flamingoes. I couldn’t wait to see them.

I should have known. Like everything else on this boat trip, the visit to the flamingoes of Holbox was “almost” awesome, but not quite. It’s like everything they tried to do, they almost got right, but then just missed it at the end.

Technically, they did take us to see the flamingoes as promised. What they failed to tell us up front, however, was that we would be so far away from them that we would only be able to discern tiny pink blobs on the horizon.

Seriously, this is how far away we were.

See those pink dots? Flamingos.

34945263950_d809dd7591.jpg

Can't tell those are flamingos? Me either. I had to zoom in with Photoshop to be sure.

Yep. Flamingos.

35202954841_a37e7e02ca.jpg

We were parched. We were tired. Our backs ached and we longed for the comfort of our daybed.

I was glad I had the chance to swim with a whale shark, even if it was only for a minute. Was it worth the rest of the day to do it? Probably not.

34945241320_d8f5731abd.jpg

Happy Birthday Matt?

At least Casa las Tortugas came through with my birthday dinner plans and salvaged an otherwise less-than-amazing day.

34489326274_78713854fd.jpg

A table was set at the water’s edge where we enjoyed a perfect sunset dinner.

Our meal started with cocktails at the bar.

35292765296_78fde87269.jpg

35332818105_17c0eae9a7.jpg

As the sun began to set, we walked down to our table and enjoyed a bottle of wine as we looked over the menu.

34489303074_5844e9226d.jpg

35292754326_3ba18dcd4d.jpg

35332815085_45792b8ea5.jpg

34945210810_d6c4540a12.jpg

We started off with the fried smoked provolone, topped with freshly sliced tomatoes and crispy bread. We also had the brioche stuffed with spinach and mushrooms and drowning in a decadent cream sauce.

35292750836_bb405fc03a.jpg

34522474313_e278f776aa.jpg

For our entrees, I had the filet medallions with chorizo ravioli and Matt had the roasted pork loin which sat atop a mountain of fluffy garlic potatoes.

35292737896_6ca361f4d6.jpg

35332784065_673661be61.jpg

And there was still dessert - a molten chocolate cake and a lemon tart.

34522463363_07203ac478.jpg

35165734302_e71c7afebd.jpg

Thanks to Casa las Tortugas, we went to bed with visions of lemon tarts instead of salt sucking catfish.

34522504783_642a3576c1.jpg

Posted by vicki_h 18:23 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico island tropical holbox isla yucatan_peninsula quintana_roo Comments (0)

Losing Time on Isla Holbox: Part I

35165688692_fe0245c08a.jpg

Isla Holbox popped on my radar when I was planning our trip to Utila, Honduras last year. When trying to decide if it was worth the effort to try to see the famed whale sharks that migrate through Utila each year, I found an article about Holbox.

Pronounced Eeeeyaa Olbosh…… it sounded like a whisper.

I couldn’t get the image of the sleepy little island out of my brain.

A mere wisp of an island, some 2.5 hours from Cancun, this is not the Mexico of jello shots and spring break tattoos. Holbox is the anti-Cancun. The un-Playa-del-Carmen. It’s compared to what the more popular locations in Mexico were 20 years ago.

“Paradise on earth,” “heavenly,” “under the radar,” “hippy chic,” “bohemian,” “Mexico’s Eden,” “Mexico’s best kept secret island,” these were the words used to describe Holbox.

The big secret? It’s apparently not a secret anymore. The last few years have brought a great deal of publicity to this perfect little beach town. The good news? It doesn’t appear that it has had much of an impact yet. So far, Holbox isn’t defined by infinity pools or all-inclusive resorts and you don’t need to dress up for dinner. Travel and Leisure may be writing about it, but it still seems to be relatively undiscovered.

This definitely pulled me in.

A late bloomer on the tourist scene, Holbox didn’t have anything modern until recent years. Locals will tell you with a sigh that “things aren’t what they used to be before Coca-Cola showed up in the 1970s.” Apparently, carbonated beverages paved the way for electricity and television, which inevitably led to Telenovela, and apparently, this led to divorce, as the people of this innocent fishing village learned the ways of the world from soap operas.

Sure, it sounds hokey, like some south of the border Mayberry, but Holbox is the real deal. None of the roads in the town are paved and the people here have an unreasonable fear of cement and the development it could bring. Developers are eyeing the island like vultures, as one of the last untouched spots in the Yucatan.

Holbox is currently caught between two worlds – still a small and simple island with low rise eco-chic hotels but it is heavily on the radar of developers who want to turn it into the next big thing.

I decided that I wanted to see it before it became the next big thing.

Arrival:

I knew Holbox wasn’t easy to get to, but most of the places I go aren’t. This wasn’t a deterrent for me.

An early morning flight from East TN landed us in Cancun just before noon. I saw all I wanted to of Cancun in the time it took me to get through the airport and climb into the cool, air-conditioned van that was waiting outside for us.

34524409013_44f9eec960.jpg

Two hours on potholed, chicken-crossed roads later, I was beginning to question my decision to come to such a remote destination….in Mexico. We passed by luncherias with simple thatched roofs and mini supers with dusty dogs lounging on the front step. Mostly we passed nothing….just endless miles of nothing.

At least I had opted for a private transfer. After our DIY experience in Rio de Janiero, I didn’t want to take any chances by driving ourselves, thankyouverymuch. And I didn’t want to share a van…what if we ended up sharing with a family that had 7 kids???? I also couldn’t fathom the thought of jumping on a hot, crowded bus or shuttle after a long flight, one that would likely smell like a dirty shoe and that would have the grime of three decades ground into the seats.

We were solo in air-conditioned comfort with a basket of snacks and cold drinks, pre-arranged by our hotel.

After 2 ½ hours, we arrived at the port of Chiquila. It was particularly unimpressive.

There was a superficial layer of waste and the port itself stark and unkempt. A few dogs wandered around and a woman had a cooler set up and was selling unmarked juices out of it. For a brief moment, I wondered again if I had made a mistake.

35167842102_1e385987bd.jpg

34947310060_e46ea48f9d.jpg

34947299310_9470a16ae4.jpg

34491274844_a788e71f75.jpg

35334783375_22b87d4205.jpg

We were given our ferry tickets (again arranged by the hotel) and, after a short ferry ride, we found ourselves on Isla Holbox. This port wasn’t much more impressive than the last one. It was fairly utilitarian and had nothing in the way of amenities and there was a pervasive odor from the sea that was staggering, an offensive combination of diseased fish and human waste.

Seriously….had I really screwed up this time? Had I finally let my wanderlust propel me into a pit of doom where I would be forced to spend a miserable week with the smell of dead fish while trying to find a decent meal at the mini super?

Our hotel had a golf cart waiting at the ferry for us and we loaded up our bags and bumped our way along roads made entirely of sand.

While the port at Holbox had not made a stunning impression, at the golf cart’s snail’s pace, the layers of the island began to peel away revealing colorful huts, a riot of flowers, incredible art, and carefree locals running barefoot through the sandy streets. The beauty of Holbox began to emerge as we slowly passed by.

34946146430_d091644d1c.jpg

35166329502_87a3dc2689.jpg

35293645876_bb59aa8fc5.jpg

35165703022_0c0b7fa911.jpg

35202594601_343750153e.jpg

34945511890_406273284a.jpg

We had to cross the entire island to get to our hotel. This took about 4 minutes. The island was less than ½ mile wide.

We were still marveling at the pretty little town we had passed through when suddenly, Casa Las Tortugas stood before us, a huddle of curvaceous, brightly painted palapa-roofed buildings winding through a tropical garden. As someone tended to our luggage, we were ushered into a tropical courtyard dripping with bougainvillea, past a deliciously glimmering pool, and into a beachy chic reception area where we were quickly checked in.

34489709494_ecb8f3eee9.jpg

35334349355_b7112ea36e.jpg

35334356185_81191bfc9b.jpg

35204636691_4d14189c33.jpg

35204545751_4da1976db2.jpg

35334294095_c0ebf82f2a.jpg

35334288395_d6f0d35dee.jpg

35334280015_0d90444db5.jpg

34490720244_9ef4e40ab1.jpg

34523914143_00cca34c79.jpg

We were handed 2 small shells to be exchanged at the bar for welcome drinks and were shown to our room. As we walked, I caught glimpses of the turquoise waters just beyond the palm trees. Flowers waved in the dappled sunlight from thatched roofs and I could hear the waves tumbling onto the sand in the distance.

The day’s tension dissolved.

We were on Holbox and it was exquisite.

Rather than setting about the business of unpacking, we found ourselves stashing our luggage, clutching those two little seashells like they were gold doubloons, and heading out for our free cocktails at the hotel’s breezy open air bar.

34946956870_1cedb68946.jpg

34947232580_6be5d0da9f.jpg

34947228240_9ace6988c5.jpg

34491220644_88eacfa997.jpg

34524335813_2af5f21094.jpg

As I settled into a cushy sofa that faced the turquoise sea, palm trees swaying gently above me, sipping an ice cold margarita crusted deliciously with salt, I knew this vacation was going to be special.

With a bit of a tequila buzz, we returned to our room, Tucan, a delightful 2 story affair right on the beach. It was tucked back into the trees for privacy and had a porch that led inside to a wonderful sitting area and table with fresh drinking water (that was refilled daily) on the bottom floor. A winding staircase led to the huge top floor with a king sized bedroom and a quirky bathroom, topped by a high palapa roof. Outside the door was a large balcony with seating and a hammock, perfect for post-margarita naps.

It was very Robinson Crusoe meets boho chic.

34490651704_f0851636eb.jpg

35334778095_047e769597.jpg

34524371723_5dcff9c632.jpg

34947269610_9819663301.jpg

34947257540_6884b3d7db.jpg

We were in love.

We returned to our room to unpack and get settled and then headed out for some much needed food.

At this point, the only thing we’d had since breakfast had been a turkey sandwich from the Charlotte airport and a basket of curious Mexican snacks that we enjoyed, but could not quite identify, en route from Cancun.

Casa Las Tortugas had a sister property next door: Luuma. Set in a beautiful sandy courtyard, it seemed like the perfect place to grab some cocktails and a light bite before our late night dinner reservation.

35167754282_360e210904.jpg

34491204384_380aec413f.jpg

34491196764_5d65e86daf.jpg

35167734672_5a8a59bf0d.jpg

35167727072_aee5d54026.jpg

35334671655_f93754e6f8.jpg

“Light bite” was definitely a misstatement. We ordered 2 spring rolls and what we thought (based on the modest price) was a small platter of seafood. This was the small platter of seafood:

34947162430_b2f4526f9e.jpg

34524263073_381bc5ab17.jpg

35334662385_a9c9fbd0cd.jpg

34524271213_64e2ec7226.jpg

And it was delicious. Everything was fresh and expertly prepared. We scarfed it down as we enjoyed several of Luuma’s inventive cocktails. Watching the bartender make the cocktails was almost as enjoyable as drinking them. The time she spent with each one was impressive, and oh…..were those cocktails good.

34524259293_57b3c7b3fe.jpg

35204895371_e88b0b6c92.jpg

35204891591_b36952ccb6.jpg

35334621225_7842987cc4.jpg

35167669282_73c23f8fb2.jpg

35167663272_e0d781f19b.jpg

We had 8:00 dinner reservations just down the beach at Casa Sandra’s Esenica’s Cuban Night.

We took a short, but pleasant stroll down the beach as the sunset filled the sky with soft pastel hues.

35167656042_c8757ac469.jpg

35294499566_9287952419.jpg

35334598535_438b2231e0.jpg

35334594915_d398559cb6.jpg

34947114820_193285aa31.jpg

35294490936_b453913224.jpg

35334579645_53b2bdc50b.jpg

35334572375_351c493244.jpg

34491067794_8d4f97af55.jpg

Casa Sandra was elegant.

Their on-site restaurant, Esencia, was beautiful.

35294472626_b339f246ee.jpg

34491054904_44b5f1b717.jpg

35204783611_90cea4d7cd.jpg

34947044520_d0928f65bc.jpg

34947055380_95ec9c1f1c.jpg

35294431936_e8c6afb86d.jpg

34491029584_746a222dfa.jpg

35294450396_82a9df9893.jpg

On Saturdays, they offer a 4 course Cuban dinner. We dove in with enthusiasm. Minty mojitos were followed by appetizers, soups, mains, and dessert.

The service was impeccable, the food was outstanding, and the setting was stylish and lovely. Imagine our surprise when the bill came and 4 cocktails, a 4 course dinner each, tax, and tip came to right at $60 US.

34491041064_811587c045.jpg

34524153033_ceba324711.jpg

34524141313_2ce7601ecf.jpg

35334501635_7e4b21a010.jpg

35294375186_e700f717f6.jpg

35294371726_79bde50d44.jpg

34524119443_80ae3208ed.jpg

This was, quite literally, the most awesome island in Mexico.

Day One:

35167524652_eecd2f4e76.jpg

34946983880_e99255c347.jpg

I woke up early, too eager to explore to sleep in. I crept out of the dim coolness of our room to let Matt sleep while I prowled around the hotel.

Every nook and cranny offered something unexpected and delightful. Even the outdoor bathroom by the pool was something special.

34524009613_dfa6e4e19c.jpg

35167456292_427711b895.jpg

34490893874_f2bb0e5610.jpg

35167472992_4c4d037d2f.jpg

35294188146_b040403ed0.jpg

35204579041_b2c0331aa0.jpg

34523955023_44d731a869.jpg

34523949313_3d6e370e32.jpg

34523943103_4234255f3b.jpg

34490757144_aa0332abf8.jpg

35204496421_1a35a93e42.jpg

34490708504_9457a8127b.jpg

34490704344_3e67315500.jpg

35294103896_ffc6f7ba9b.jpg

35167302612_328d6697b1.jpg

34946675700_67f90480a5.jpg

35204430091_d01ff37d9d.jpg

I had come to Holbox because I wanted something authentic, not resorty, but I also wanted enough “posh” to feel like I was on a vacation. Holbox and Casa las Tortugas served up that perfect combination. The hotel was graceful, with a hippy-chic vibe and the postcard perfect beachfront led to a powdery white coastline with clear jade waters.

After checking out my beautiful surroundings, I grabbed a cup of coffee and settled myself on a beachfront daybed to relax until Matt dragged himself out of bed.

35294274856_4e25cd7b3a.jpg

35167487732_ec2ef986bc.jpg

34946888080_69232d489b.jpg

When he finally slept off travel day and stumbled out on the beach, looking refreshed and happy, we wandered over to Mandarina, the hotel’s beachfront restaurant for breakfast.

35294304046_134d219018.jpg

34946936000_2ff0d73044.jpg

35167306982_4ecf3b8758.jpg

Breakfast each morning was included in our stay. The breakfast at Mandarina was so good, it became something I looked forward to each day of our stay.

We were started off with fresh squeezed juice (the flavors changed each day – you never knew if it would be watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple, guava….) and tea or coffee along with a basket of freshly baked bread with butter and home-made jam.

34523851163_90d7f61614.jpg

Each day you could choose a plate of fruit with yogurt and granola or the “hot breakfast.” I went with the hot breakfast every day. It was exceptional.

On our first day, I was introduced to chilaquiles. Chilaquiles are essentially breakfast nachos.

34523848273_389ee5d809.jpg

34490653564_73812ff444.jpg

HOW HAD I GONE 47 YEARS WITHOUT KNOWING THESE EXISTED??????

Chilaquiles changed my life.

One of the things we noticed immediately about Isla Holbox was the abundance of dogs. Not sad, skinny dogs that made my heart ache like we see on many other islands…these were fat and happy, running free, and living the life of Riley.

We LOVED the dogs.

35167230822_d8e032e1ce.jpg

35167151102_55c40f6edf.jpg

With breakfast over, we did nothing more than spend the rest of the morning parked on a daybed with the iPod playing and alternating between reading, dipping in the shallow water, and dozing in the sun.

34946623820_8abccf6737.jpg

35167244072_0035b00098.jpg

35334154865_169c122239.jpg

35294020236_53a378bb8f.jpg

The beach on Holbox is simply one long stretch that pretty much goes as far as you can walk. While it lacks the soft white sand and clear turquoise waters that I love so much in the Bahamas, it had its own beauty all the same. The beach on Isla Holbox was crushed coral, endless tiny seashells, and insanely clear jade waters. Tangles of dried kelp and coconut husks scattered about lent it a natural wildness, unlike the manicured beaches of an all-inclusive-resort, but it was clean with no trash or debris. The shallow emerald water stretched out for ages. I had to wade an extremely long way before finding waves that lapped at anything more than knee height.

34946579580_9f458f41a2.jpg

35294004796_5d32b0560a.jpg

35293995046_6feaf547e8.jpg

35204353461_db5aab550b.jpg

35293982006_120cac60fe.jpg

34946537120_b26ecb85e5.jpg

34946531180_e6bdec500a.jpg

34523737403_c6fb580331.jpg

It was perfect for lounging and cooling off.

We were finding Holbox simple….quirky….rustic….and we loved it.

34490565084_0bf49c846f.jpg

35204299201_1839b55b63.jpg

34490513294_f9cbc0f01b.jpg

34523713953_c8e99800fc.jpg

34490534434_7eb86fee00.jpg

34490521754_9c2a2bc84a.jpg

35167102412_397a11dd76.jpg

35293907186_da294aeef3.jpg

The only thing I didn’t love so far was the heat. As the sun rose higher in the sky, I realized this island was hotter than I was accustomed to. For Pete’s sake, it was hotter than hell and half of Texas.

The only relief came from dipping frequently in the cool water of the ocean and sipping on cocktails from our shady daybed.

Literally too hot to move, we debated our lunch options.
1) We could lay on this day bed until we died; or
2) We could drag ourselves out of the shade and head down the beach to find food and hope we managed to do so before we self combusted.

We decided on option 2 because it at least carried some small hope of survival. We strategized before we peeled our languid bodies off the swinging daybed.

Our lunch destination was 1000 feet away. This was simply too far to go in one push. Have you seen the movie Hidalgo, where the man and the horse are trudging through the cracked desert? That was my vision of trying to walk 1000 feet down the beach in that heat.

Barquito at Posada Mawimi offered cool drinks and a shady palapa only 130 feet away. We’d start small and simply try to make it there before heat stroke set in. If we made, it, we’d cool off with beverages before attempting a longer leg of 600 feet to Raices, where additional cocktails would be required before attempting to proceed to Casa Iguana, another 400 feet away.

We could do this.

We became battle ready by slathering on a layer of sunscreen so thick we looked whitewashed and made our way to Barquito.

35334043015_d3286187b2.jpg

34946435920_06d9eea99f.jpg

34490457784_883499dac4.jpg

34490453134_2c983cf5de.jpg

Barquito was a delightful palapa style bar and restaurant on the beach next door to our hotel at hotel Posada Mawimbi. It quickly became one of our favorite places to grab a cocktail, not just because it was close enough that we could make it there without getting 3rd degree burns on our feet, but it served awesome drinks, they were cheap, and the view was impossible to beat.

We sucked down a couple of strong, frosty $5 cocktails (seriously!!!).

35204189191_5d475463d8.jpg

35293865356_525d39bb65.jpg

35167059592_885d528e01.jpg

35204172641_81c5bc3c30.jpg

35333999925_9f17a2fa5e.jpg

34523631643_1a4a50d656.jpg

Sufficiently refreshed, we slithered down the beach to the next stop – Raices.

In my online perusing, Raices had gotten mixed reviews. Some people said it was the best seafood EVER and other said they have rested on their former reputation too long and the quality has diminished. After a quick look around, I decided that I agreed with those that advised to get a drink, enjoy the view, and move on.

34946386970_67d4f362b5.jpg

35167031962_e68ea75c9a.jpg

35167015182_bdccc2b7db.jpg

34946355670_7ba1242547.jpg

34523585713_c9bb326420.jpg

34523556303_083b3da231.jpg

34946295310_49aed6f3bb.jpg

34946286710_1e3ce1bb0d.jpg

The setting was casual and cool, the bar swings were awesome, and this was one of the best margaritas of the trip.

I didn’t change my mind about the food, though.

34946347090_cdc0156761.jpg

34523581333_64c251414e.jpg

34946332540_46a8a2556c.jpg

35333919865_704b2c5a9b.jpg

34523526983_874f491f7a.jpg

35293774806_c8cb9352a2.jpg

We moved on.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know EXACTLY where Casa Iguana was. I didn’t realize it was practically next door to Raices because it was set back from the beach, and we set off on a hot death march down the beach.

About 10 minutes later, and nearly dead, we realized we had missed it. Matt gave me “that look” (the same one he gave me the time I got us stuck in the back of a rangy alley in Rome with no way to turn our car around) as he hailed a golf cart taxi.

We hoisted our sweaty bodies into the vinyl seats and asked him to take us to Casa Iguana. When we arrived pretty much back at where we started, Matt gave me “that look” again.

35166806832_85fe1e9016.jpg

All was forgiven when we slid into two chairs in the breezy shade of Huacalilto, the beachside restaurant at hotel Casa Iguana. I would say it was one of the best meals of the trip, but to be quite honest, we had so many good meals on the trip it’s really hard to choose.

34523508583_7ffbd21672.jpg

34523499413_f7f0f240fd.jpg

34946258960_1e1d20707a.jpg

35166839282_e7b80dde49.jpg

Strong cold drinks mixed with time and care were brought out along with a plate of fresh, tangy ceviche and hot, crispy, salty tortilla chips.

35333845745_f0772d0542.jpg

35166827232_8100d1a8e6.jpg

Matt’s fish looked gorgeous, but it paled in comparison to my coconut crusted shrimp topped with pineapple salsa.

34490307814_4c75694846.jpg

35203984001_6079306d3d.jpg

It was a 15 minute walk down the beach to Alma Bar and we knew we’d never make it, so we hailed another of those delicious little golf cart taxis and rode in breezy comfort.

We found Alma on the roof of hotel Villas Tiburón, with a cool pool and a stellar view.

35293738426_28b67fbc00.jpg

35203973871_375ceee1ae.jpg

34490284904_6b2ccd55e5.jpg

34490266434_19e8643c1a.jpg

34523449733_962bfdf242.jpg

We cooled off in their pool hammocks with a couple of spicy frozen mango margaritas.

34946197080_f7628b6f7c.jpg

35333820615_24c53f9490.jpg

34523469983_2a6d3ed060.jpg

35203951961_fd85328cc7.jpg

We ended the afternoon back at Casa las Tortugas alternating between daybed naps and floating in the refreshing water.

35333791915_65fc45b639.jpg

Up to this point, we hadn’t ventured into town with the exception of the ride from the port to the hotel, so we cleaned up and decided to wander around a bit before locating some sunset cocktails.

35166724502_87ecf94afa.jpg

The village is small and tight, and Casa las Tortugas sits right on the edge. The streets were paved with sand and there wasn’t a car in sight. Golf carts and scooters whizzed down the sandy lanes, and dogs of every shape and size appeared in doorways or simply lay in the middle of the street.

It was a riot of color and art. Several years ago, Isla Holbox participated in Mexico’s first Festival Internacional de Arte Publico (FIAP) and invited artists from around the world to come experience this seaside fishing town and create inspired street art for everybody to see. I absolutely loved the murals painted on every available space I could see.

35203881191_8a8730ed4b.jpg

34523430203_f896cd37cc.jpg

34946141720_c92603999b.jpg

34523412173_7ef075976d.jpg

35333745865_e80c5569c1.jpg

34946150830_30d2661d80.jpg

34946118070_459198d561.jpg

We wandered to the central village square, only a block from our hotel. At night, this seemed to be the hub of all activity. The streets were filled with the smell of sweet batter as small carts selling marquesitas, freshly cooked, thin crepes cooked on an iron until crispy and then filled with tangy cheese and Nutella. As the light of the day faded, people seemed to emerge from nowhere, spilling into the square. Music drifted out of open doorways, tiny birds hopped from coconut trees onto streetside tables, and a group of boys played soccer in a sandy corner. A tiny cart sold watermelon juice to people passing by.

Unusual for Mexico, there is very little crime on Holbox which is probably why the island’s few policemen were sitting on a wall unwrapping homemade pork and potato tacos from tinfoil.

Even with the heat, it felt nice here. This was a good place.

34946103930_0b24d345a7.jpg

35166661402_6a359967b2.jpg

34490187934_bde76c8c66.jpg

34490184154_4eff1e2607.jpg

Not wanting to miss the sunset, we headed back to the beachside in search of Il Chiringuito, a small thatched bar on the beach in front of Hotel Zomay, rumored to have amazing drinks and the best sunset view.

34523381183_c827f0cdab.jpg

34523342853_309d50a23b.jpg

34523373803_6655961b01.jpg

35333707955_5d4eafd5f2.jpg

35166641272_51db5746c8.jpg

34946062580_c355e02eb1.jpg

35293624266_6466e12504.jpg

34946048480_c365f07a03.jpg

We found both to be true.

Despite the fact that the bar was TINY, the bartender took a tremendous amount of time and care making each drink. This seemed to be the norm for Holbox. We watched as he careful peeled and cut a mango, blended it, added rum and coconut cream and then crafted it into a tasty cocktail for Matt.

35293591466_51a33b78f5.jpg

34946030640_9d00602597.jpg

34946036210_f17539e16d.jpg

A huge fan of margaritas, my goal was to sample as many as I could while I was on Holbox, so I opted for the traditional margarita. It was hand shaken.

Wow.

35333677585_b74c7a6fcb.jpg

35333680235_e72d8894d3.jpg

The sun dripped into the haze in an eruption of color as we enjoyed the distinctly bohemian vibe of Il Chiringuito. An eclectic crowd of unconventional types sipped sunset drinks, drifted lazily in swings, and kicked soccer balls around the beach while a menagerie of odd dogs barked happily at their feet.

35333674375_82a6ba8f19.jpg

35203756841_2ba2088d10.jpg

35203752831_cc5b786e33.jpg

35293578116_a5064bae1a.jpg

35166559652_5110be2f17.jpg

35166551542_64ca3aafdc.jpg

Eventually, our stomachs called and we had to answer.

We walked the dusty streets through town to Rosa Mexicano. One of the newer restaurants on Holbox’s dining scene, this open-air restaurant drew us in with its sand colored walls and inviting smells.

35166549372_02d9472ee6.jpg

34490076294_d2a7eee439.jpg

34945966270_97070bba6e.jpg

35333612715_e9fb9e78d6.jpg

Matt’s watermelon martini was refreshing and my mescal margarita was spectacular.

35333604795_8fd56c1f63.jpg

Drinks were followed by fresh guacamole and queso fundido, and we rounded the meal out with shrimp enchiladas and chicken mole.

35166514262_7f2f5e665f.jpg

34945953400_42c31ebd2f.jpg

As Matt and I covertly slipped bits of chicken and cheese to the sweet dog laying across our feet, we knew we were falling under the spell of Holbox.

Day Two:

It was our second morning on Holbox, and as usual, I was awake before Matt. As my suspended daybed swung lazily back and forth, I watched the morning come to life.

35294328716_02502ba32d.jpg

I looked around and saw the hotel staff cleaning off the beach chairs with a brush, chairs that would soon be filled with lazy tourists lounging on the beach all day. At this time of day, there were more fishermen than tourists, and I watched as they carried their equipment down the beach toward boats docked at a distant pier.

Small wooden dinghies banged softly together at the water’s edge, with rows of pelicans perched on their bows, scanning the water for breakfast. A short distance down the beach, a small woman sat in a plastic chair repairing a net. Nearby, inside a sun-worn palapa, someone was setting up cold beer as a smattering of lazy puppies and a chicken or two wandered about. A cart rolled down the beach, it’s vendor preparing to sell freshly baked banana bread and prickly pear juice so sweet it would make your teeth hurt.

35293529306_2f3d93da67.jpg

34523218203_229a3fcac8.jpg

The air smelled like the sea and the sweet honey that Casa las Tortugas used heavily in all of the bath products. I breathed it all in.

Eventually he wandered sleepily out onto the beach and we enjoyed fresh squeezed watermelon juice and warm, crusty bread, smeared thick with mango jam and a hot breakfast of chicken and cheese enchiladas.

34523245193_2e17f37b14.jpg

35333586535_64ee9a69cb.jpg

35203689951_cf8751ca51.jpg

34523208373_fb66f8cb7a.jpg

The day was bright and beautiful. We had learned yesterday that, in the heat, it was too hard to do any more than spend the day simply melting into the warm sand, coming up for air only long enough to take a cold sip of a tangy margarita and lick the crusty salt from our fingers.

So that’s exactly what we did.

34945939130_3653471dab.jpg

35166471202_4bd3e1080a.jpg

34490020064_f0b6ac06b4.jpg

35293521226_89eb91bdaf.jpg

34945903620_83255df97c.jpg

34945883120_119e1d697c.jpg

35203656771_769e061a4e.jpg

34489990974_9437605183.jpg

34523168683_94d238d6ce.jpg

35333526705_b76c431936.jpg

35166407392_c7c1cfa72e.jpg

35293440676_649e771b46.jpg

35166393752_0db356db6c.jpg

35293477696_40cce3cf53.jpg

34945850750_4d87e368dc.jpg

35203597771_d532a497d8.jpg

For lunch, we walked a short distance down the beach to Villa Mar, a casual beachfront restaurant that was rumored to have amazing fish tacos.

35293420936_42d6a3f42c.jpg

34945832410_1d07b37206.jpg

35333419565_1127c4d527.jpg

34523119853_c43f938207.jpg

34489942714_cd4956284a.jpg

35293410036_21734d0f52.jpg

35333483125_23c50da12e.jpg

34523108793_02870cd0f3.jpg

34945809420_5d672d5a24.jpg

We enjoyed frosty margaritas crusted thick with salt, fresh ceviche, and their famous fish tacos.

35333442975_3c5a7a39ef.jpg

35333439325_8c6a09101f.jpg

35293374766_a6a408c8bb.jpg

The food was more than we could eat, but we had a little help from a friend.

34945795860_99b4527257.jpg

We spent the heat of the afternoon lounging in the sparkling pool.

34523931703_f86d575d61.jpg

That evening, we headed back to Barquito for evening cocktails. They were as lovely as they were delicious.

35203527381_7698624724.jpg

35166264282_bb68f0c96d.jpg

34945746850_4dc7541672.jpg

35333388455_18ff0a4114.jpg

35293339996_7abd8abf90.jpg

35203519701_72dd62f896.jpg

34945759540_e66e90084a.jpg

34523017153_6e5205a562.jpg

35333348645_b9b03aa4e6.jpg

35166250682_0189d758ca.jpg

34489832204_a07812f86e.jpg

34489827994_6d2e763614.jpg

34522988803_ef62d2b6e8.jpg

The night before, as we sat and noshed on our chips at Rosa Mexicano, we noticed El Sushi de Holbox next door. Sushi? In Mexico?

That sounded like a good way to get a nice bacterial infection to me, or, at a minimum, a good case of diarrhea. We were surprised to see the most amazing looking food coming out.

After 2 days of ceviche and Mexican food, our taste buds wanted something different, so we decided to be bold and try El Sushi de Holbox.

35203457601_75f4d64e3c.jpg

35293280366_b43b5ab8b7.jpg

35203449361_a069238b53.jpg

35166227792_48a9bc819f.jpg

I quickly understood why it is rated as one of the best restaurants on Holbox, despite how weird Mexican and sushi are together.

The ramen was a delicious start followed by several of their specialty rolls. Everything looked as good as it tasted.

35333304205_6bc163e998.jpg

35293264276_0f505c50fa.jpg

34945663680_93125216cb.jpg

35203429611_c280ff18c2.jpg

So far, our meals on Holbox had been OUTSTANDING. The food on this island was spectacular. And so cheap!

We walked back to Casa las Tortugas along the quaint streets of the village, watching the multitude of happy dogs run about, enjoying the string lights that stretched across the streets, and hearing the laughter of children playing in the square. The cinnamon-and-sugar smell of fresh churros wafted into the air from a row of sidewalk food vendors who were selling tacos, fruit drinks and crepes.

35203423271_7c45f700eb.jpg

It was only 9:30, but the ease of Holbox had seeped into our bones. We wanted nothing more than our cool room and blissful sleep.

Posted by vicki_h 18:22 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico island tropical holbox isla yucatan_peninsula quintana_roo Comments (0)

Eat. Drink. New Orleans

Tasting our way through the French Quarter.

I don’t try to pretend New Orleans is something it isn’t. I realize that some people love it and some people hate it.

It stinks. At times, the smell seems like something solid and tangible, clinging to the wrought iron balconies and wrapping itself around doorways. The number of people in the quarter is constant and oppressive. Crowds pulse through the streets at all hours. Crime is real and remaining ever vigilant is necessary. Bourbon Street really is as bad as you’ve heard.

But it is so much more than that.

I love this city. Right there, blending with the stink and the crowds, is a palpable exuberance, a joie de vivre, a mingling of hot sauce and jazz that sits on your tongue and rings in your ears and makes you feel alive.

Our friends had only been to New Orleans once, where they had a less than favorable experience. They were forever left with the impression that New Orleans was a dirty city in a perpetual state of partying and debauchery.

There is so much more to this gritty city than that. I wanted to show them my version of New Orleans – a city brimming with art and architecture, rich in history and culture, a city filled with wonderful things to sip and savor.

With mutual friends in Dallas, we decided it was a perfect place to meet up for a long weekend.

As I always do, I focused my planning on the French Quarter.

Some will tell you never stay in the French Quarter. Some go as far as to say don’t even visit it at all. There is no parking, it’s too dirty, it’s too loud, it’s too dangerous, it’s too crowded, it’s too tourist-centric, and the best restaurants are in other parts of the city.

I think the French Quarter gets a bad rap. Sure….other areas of New Orleans may have more class, more luxury, more posh….but none of them have more pizazz. New Orleans may be unique and colorful, but the French Quarter is the epicenter. It’s the mother ship.

The Garden District may be the prim and proper lady, always impeccably dressed and consistently using the appropriate fork at dinner. She never says the wrong thing and always crosses her legs demurely as she sits.

The French Quarter, however, is her rowdy younger sister. She’s the one that has all the cool parties, wears too much make up, drinks bourbon in the middle of the day, sleeps until noon, and says whatever enters her mind no matter how inappropriate it is.

She wears sequins to the grocery store.

I know who you’d prefer to live with, but which one would you rather spend a weekend with?

Exactly.

34424875880_78757fd76b.jpg

Thursday:

33967997974_3876a24440.jpg

34771405186_445b4880d5.jpg

If the beautiful sunset that greeted us over the water as we landed at New Orleans’ Lakefront Airport was an omen of the weekend to come, we were in for a stellar time.

Ditto for the transportation that was waiting upon our arrival.

33967985754_bd30546ab4.jpg

34424878850_fdb403b29a.jpg

We were whisked away to a 3-story mansion in the heart of the French Quarter that took our breath away.

34678201981_fb1ff8d359.jpg

34678575051_49c5419e54.jpg

34001430253_131d920a8a.jpg

34678560641_1b8bf4b757.jpg

34001421183_1f9550679b.jpg

33967946724_7a71c484a1.jpg

34811058205_f45b634b42.jpg

34424842420_c1f8993a31.jpg

It was late, and we were hungry.

It was pure serendipity that we stopped at Orleans Grapevine for drinks and sustenance just as they began BACON HAPPY HOUR.

Happy, indeed.

34424795450_fec284d01e.jpg

With a courtyard filled with twinkling lights and delightful drinks like my sugared hibiscus champagne cocktail or Matt’s neon-lighted hand grenade martini, Orleans Grapevine set an instant tone of awesomeness for our trip.

34678512841_32c4229aaf.jpg

33967903354_cf29049b0d.jpg

34001375823_6b624bd574.jpg

34771327406_928b577872.jpg

34424803500_8f6903ac11.jpg

33967875114_89501116f0.jpg

34424783640_b42bd6421c.jpg

33967855144_de73f8901e.jpg

34001332163_04af41db01.jpg

We munched on fresh, hot bread, BACON, saffron mussels, BACON, gumbo, BACON, and crab cakes.

And BACON.

34424789320_9d00a717d0.jpg

With bellies full, we were off to One Eyed Jacks to meet up with our Dallas friends who had arrived before us.

34001321123_be219da061.jpg

We walked into a room with flocked crimson wallpaper; chandeliers; sparkly, scarlet banquettes; and pinup nudes painted on black velvet. The swanky vintage atmosphere was a nod to the building’s history as an old French Quarter movie house and speakeasy, but it looked more like a Mexican bordello to me.

One Eyed Jacks is home to the long-running and beloved Thursday-night “Fast Times '80s dance party,” and once I knew we were arriving on Thursday night….I knew we had to go.

34678429241_399e7173c9.jpg

33967834994_a085060443.jpg

One Eyed Jacks was a non-Bourbon Street bar with a rock and roll edge. It was the perfect place to get our New Orleans weekend party started.

The highlight of the night had to be this guy in his replica jacket and light up shoes.

34648505452_9502ac9371.jpg

I did feel a pang of guilt as I stumbled past the Saint Anthony Garden which is dominated by a large statue of Jesus, and wondered about those last couple of shots I drank.

34424767970_2d636fd2a7.jpg

When in New Orleans….

Friday:

34424711730_8083015ddd.jpg

Matt and I woke up early and decided to sneak off to enjoy our favorite early morning indulgence in the French Quarter: Café du Monde.

34678409111_f27be49304.jpg

You simply can’t go to Café du Monde after 8:00 a.m. The only time to go is before all the lazy tourists wake up from their hurricane hangovers, when all of the chairs are still on the tabletops and the streets smell like freshly sprayed bleach.

Some people prefer the beignets (and lack of line) at Café Beignet. Not me. They simply don’t do it for me. I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s the lack of freshly hosed streets under my feet or the quiet that replaces the bustling activity of a bevy of shuffling waitresses in little paper hats . Or maybe it’s the absence of a heavy mug filled with the perfect and bitter chicory coffee that I can only find at Café du Monde, but for me, the experience is only whole when I am sitting under that happy green and white awning, watching a waitress in a crisp white apron clear a preposterous amount of powdered sugar off a marble top table with a quick swipe of her towel as the sounds of a lone trumpet player in the street drifts past.

34648480952_502316c50c.jpg

34678402161_4832555928.jpg

34678398061_d8b60a4979.jpg

34810953895_833e6d9c8f.jpg

34771234816_5265d1e144.jpg

34678376581_65ddd954a3.jpg

Cafe du Monde at the right time is a moment of powdered sugar perfection, and it is worth all the indignities of being a complete tourist.

Once the rest of our crew had roused themselves awake, we made the short walk to Stanley for a proper breakfast.

34810942345_c96759954f.jpg

Since the first time I discovered Stanley, it has been a “must do” breakfast on every trip to New Orleans. How can you not LOVE a place that puts ice cream on the pancakes??

34424725780_b60c93b3fd.jpg

I stuffed myself with a loaded bloody mary and the breakfast seafood platter, a mountain of cornmeal crusted Louisiana oysters, gulf shrimp and soft shell crab atop delicate poached eggs, Canadian bacon, and toasted English muffins slathered in decadent Hollandaise.

Yes, please.

33967781974_a2810d245f.jpg

34001244213_697c82bf83.jpg

We spent the rest of the morning trying to walk off our colossal breakfast.

34424832150_761915953b.jpg

34424720110_eddfc35c68.jpg

33967656324_48b4dcd231.jpg

34811045925_23a20c1316.jpg

34648500062_970ff12afb.jpg

34001237153_0cf55a2459.jpg

34771099036_9245bd65bc.jpg

34424642760_b89dedfa81.jpg

34424640030_e5e3a032c9.jpg

34810783635_c185b4f127.jpg

We were unsuccessful.

We decided it was best to simply eat again.

We found ourselves at Napoleon House.

34678329151_d40135b7f9.jpg

34810864155_7fc87d938f.jpg

33967737134_f2c7460f02.jpg

34771180476_c3b7cca27f.jpg

This historic restaurant has a wonderful courtyard and is THE place to sample the famed “Pimm’s Cup.”

It is also home to one of the best muffaletta’s in the city.

So we had both.

34810896935_920cab74ea.jpg

33967747534_f9209d21f4.jpg

34678314741_795f2ac934.jpg

33967743364_20e177211e.jpg

34810839215_9130c2403b.jpg

The only thing we could really do at this point was keep eating and drinking, so it was off to Bourbon House for oyster happy hour.

Matt was VERY happy.

33967702574_43bc98796b.jpg

34001182983_0d6bc8d4c1.jpg

34678263841_4dc9f4c9b8.jpg

Sure, these look like sissy milkshakes, but they are, in fact, the Bourbon House’s famed frozen milk punch: a boozy blend of ice-cream, bourbon, and vanilla topped with fresh nutmeg.

33967690694_d1d633771b.jpg

34424699160_95e45725e4.jpg

34424696290_b569c8ce59.jpg

34424671220_ec3e668065.jpg

Then it was back to the house for some much needed downtime (and stomach stretching exercises).

We strolled along Bourbon Street back to our place.

34810855165_d37e24994a.jpg

34678347291_54c48a5f8f.jpg

34424659980_19a0359d6f.jpg

34678238621_88043092bc.jpg

33967670764_176b007cb4.jpg

34770399586_d55c6ac643.jpg

As we sat on our balcony, a terrible looking sky rolled in, and simply rolled past.

It was quite dramatic.

34678197831_66b321fb6c.jpg

34771059486_c059282bcb.jpg

34424613120_9d495a9083.jpg

The skies cleared up just in time for dinner.

34678175361_1bffb6c3a5.jpg

34001118623_c26e47f180.jpg

34424608410_1defeb6226.jpg

We headed out..........Because we needed to eat again.

We made our way to Deanie’s, because I had heard about their legendary seafood platter.

34001114273_7b78d9ea12.jpg

34678149951_d29455bd56.jpg

34648195052_2b10b8f26e.jpg

The place was PACKED, but when we saw the plates loaded with fried seafood exiting the kitchen, we decided it was worth the wait. We grabbed drinks at the bar and grew hungrier by the minute.

34771001606_586c26624a.jpg

34678120021_17241fac59.jpg

33967595434_45860b47f1.jpg

Deanie’s had the most unusual complimentary table snack I think I have witnessed to date. Not bread, not crackers, not bowls of nuts or popcorn.
Deanie’s gave us a bowl of whole potatoes.

34810717585_f1bd637552.jpg

They were perfectly soft, dusted in spicy crab boil, and served with butter.

We followed that with a few pounds of crawfish.

34678104501_1152e85cb3.jpg

34648216242_c634f378c5.jpg

Then the barbecue shrimp.

The broth in the shrimp was absolutely one of the best things I have ever tasted. It was served with crusty bread to soak up the juice.

34678096821_0aee71cf23.jpg

And a GIANT SEAFOOD PLATTER.

It was a mountain of soft shell crab, oysters, shrimp, fish, crab balls, and french fries.

34678092281_fc0d5626b2.jpg

34770973326_c25d111b20.jpg

Of course we ate it all.

34770966166_30e1764f5c.jpg

Even if it did take us until almost 11:00 p.m.

34424526470_1aa2606ace.jpg

After dinner, we strolled down Bourbon Street toward home.

While I am not a fan of Bourbon Street as an actual destination, I do enjoy taking a stroll along it when I am on my way to someplace else.

Our friends also felt a burning need to experience the electric green sweetness of a hand grenade. It’s something everyone should experience.

34770951556_9db56ddf41.jpg

34424502650_3881e657ec.jpg

33967524794_ab82bfbf7e.jpg

Bourbon Street is a mesmerizing blend of fun and depravity. It’s a place lined with bars whose music spills onto the sidewalk and competing sounds create a cacophony of noise, where signs advertise HUGE ASS beers, where drunken groups of 20-somethings help each other stumble down the street pausing only when one group member needs to throw up on the sidewalk; and where people walk around casually dressed as pirates or aliens, and where it seems perfectly reasonable to do so. It’s a place with smoke-filled nudie clubs and a live band in every corner. There are endless baubles and boas, cheap go-cup windows, and dried alligator heads. It smells of desperation, heat lamped pizza, and neon electricity.

34771020176_08e9e21c70.jpg

34810738015_7caff5795f.jpg

34001085843_6611b115e5.jpg

The street was filled with girls with high heels and low self-esteem and idiot frat boys that seem to multiply by the hour. Proprietors with balding mullets stood outside open doorways advertising drinks with douchey names and offering 2 for 1 specials if you were only willing to step inside.

I knew better than to step inside. Entering one of those places would do nothing more than make me want to instantly run for the door, which I wouldn’t be able to do because my feet would be stuck to the floor by 15 years’ worth of spilled drinks, and where I would pick up a latent STD from the barstool.

Instead, we grabbed a hand grenade to go from a window and made straight for home.

A walk down Bourbon Street always makes me feel like a need a long shower afterward to wash off the sweat, smoke, and despair .

It was time to rinse of the night and go to sleep.

Saturday:

Apparently, we had to rinse off the night the next morning as well.

33967491194_e3b671374c.jpg

When your house is in proximity to Bourbon Street, even the quiet end of Bourbon Street, you can count on some mutant to leave the remains of his Lucky Dog by your front door after a night filled with booze and beads.

When a restaurant advertises that the BYOB brunch allows the first bottle for free but charges a $15 corkage for the second, you bring the biggest bottle you can find.

34000997183_071592882e.jpg

EAT offers a delicious brunch in a bright and airy space that was only a block from our house.

Good thing, because I couldn’t have carried that champagne bottle far.

34424466260_3b533c8539.jpg

Our bubbly was quickly put on ice and we were given a carafe of OJ.

33967516084_21d1fac439.jpg

34678058001_dc14da4c74.jpg

34000982803_bf6413bb48.jpg

Our banana fritters were brought out in a paper bag, perfectly dusted with crunchy sugar and cinnamon, and served with a bowl of creamy peanut butter and Nutella.

34000970553_e3119a073b.jpg

I opted for the Eggs Cochon: delicious pulled pork cakes over mustard greens, served with two poached eggs, Creole hollandaise sauce, grits and one of EAT’s giant homemade biscuits.

Matt ordered the Chantilly pancakes.

I just loved hearing him say, “Chantilly pancakes, please.”

34000965063_5d19557acd.jpg

34770887756_ff8dc83b98.jpg

34678049071_c8f7df316d.jpg

34648112142_d9f88b1227.jpg

Brunch over, we hit the streets with mimosa go cups in hand. We headed to Jackson Square to peruse the local art and street vendors.

33967483394_68ea0e3974.jpg

33967479074_213001dfe5.jpg

34810589285_fb863ace89.jpg

34648084342_f5f96a2556.jpg

If the French Quarter is the epicenter of New Orleans, then Jackson Square is the epicenter of the epicenter.

34648068242_8bceff696f.jpg

34770827136_b153df206a.jpg

34000898363_a8334cde36.jpg

The colorful streets around the square are filled with original art and street performers – some good….some not so good….but all interesting.

34770844386_dceb9fb02f.jpg

34810569525_47a9842594.jpg

33967440194_22f197b6a5.jpg

34677989741_a25537c4e4.jpg

34000866223_cc74807793.jpg

Our wandering led us to the French Market where we shopped everything from handmade jewelry and paintings to $5 sunglasses.

34810536035_386626daee.jpg

34000876503_c6103ab4f2.jpg

34000846083_70f83eb995.jpg

Before we knew it, our go cups were empty. This called for a dash into Molly’s on the Market. I instantly fell in love the second I tasted the frozen Irish coffee.

34677986181_5e25bab24e.jpg

34000858323_5eba564dd4.jpg

34000851493_fea6d3c5bf.jpg

It had been at least 2 hours since we had eaten, so we popped into Central Grocery so that our group could try the “other” muffaletta.

Many people think the muffaletta at Napoleon House is the best. I can’t disagree that the fluffy toasted bread and melty cheese were spectacular.

But Central Grocery is still my favorite. Maybe it’s because it was my first, maybe it’s because the shelves are lined with dusty cans of tomato paste and gallon jars of capers, maybe it’s simply the unlimited supply of Zapp’s chips and root beer that you can buy beside your sandwich….all I can tell you is that THIS is my favorite muffaletta.

34424376530_661c2b11f8.jpg

34000838163_60951141c7.jpg

33967373004_b8f38c5894.jpg

34677956411_b01ae9037e.jpg

34647960282_50bbc75f09.jpg

34000813233_5c97b8aa2d.jpg

34770719776_2db500f438.jpg

We shared a bite and then hopped the streetcar to Mother’s.

Why?

To eat again, that’s why.

34810437765_68205acb36.jpg

When it comes to dining, New Orleans is an embarrassment of riches. You can’t walk 10 feet without bumping into something delicious.

And in this city, it’s not about eating fancy or expensive…it’s about eating WELL. The best bite you have all day might come from a counter in the back of a convenience store.

34810433655_afca169c9d.jpg

34770692636_411259bf97.jpg

34677933031_42988b5c81.jpg

33967326104_895e9240b1.jpg

Mother’s is old school and is the perfect blend of divey and delicious. It serves up mountains of comfort food like po’ boys and macaroni and cheese that you order in a cafeteria-style line. You know a meal is going to be good when the interior looks this dumpy, yet there are 20 people in line in front of you.

With so many options on its huge menu, it can be hard to decide what to get. I find it easy, however. I always get the debris po’ boy, dressed.

34000794253_842c2594fe.jpg

34000792683_59322c0026.jpg

Debris is roast beef cooked until it begs for mercy. It’s the juicy bits, crispy fat, and charred goodness that falls off a roast beef when it’s cooked to death. These are served swimming in pan drippings.

My sandwich was drowning in roast beef shavings and gravy and was “dressed” in zesty cabbage, pickles, mayo, and creole mustard.

34770675736_191f10f1b7.jpg

Believe it or not, we followed that with oyster happy hour and a delicious Sezerac.

33967311264_d85058ffba.jpg

34424303970_590f4b2e6d.jpg

We were here to sip and savor, so we stopped at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 next.

The bar was kitchy cool and the drinks were creative and tropical with awesome garnishes like a frozen coconut milk tiki and fresh orchids.

34810407185_5c88b678b6.jpg

33967301614_09883d58a5.jpg

34677877351_e878b6ccc2.jpg

33967289034_bb092bf10a.jpg

34000773593_6d26934401.jpg

33967295614_68b1313ed2.jpg

Because our house was located near the quiet end of Bourbon Street, there was then the inevitable Bourbon Street stroll that we seemed to do every day.

We took it all in.

34770631806_dd03026369.jpg

34000762073_c4611dcb7a.jpg

34770616446_31bbd75a64.jpg

34000747103_cd6a62e32c.jpg

34810372825_0acd85307a.jpg

34647849132_bcd84ee05b.jpg

34770602116_175568cfde.jpg

33967235054_a373d2a8a8.jpg

34677834481_74c75bb51c.jpg

By the time we got home, we were ready for fat pants and naps.

Our balcony provided us a perfect place to waste the afternoon before it was time to clean up and head out for dinner.

33967225874_40ef1bddec.jpg

Before dinner, I made everyone pose for cheesy photos.

34677810371_7ef0ed49c1.jpg

33967213594_3d1088b537.jpg

33967204404_61657274ac.jpg

33967195144_35c5db3975.jpg

34000707563_c482062fc1.jpg

34000681423_9d15817239.jpg

33967218994_feba477153.jpg

34000665023_65f4fae35c.jpg

34424216010_d97bf69f85.jpg

34677764981_d56be8c9ff.jpg

We like to call this one “Burger King Regret.”

34810340855_e817a01476.jpg

We felt the need to step it up a bit and eat something that did not come in a paper sack, so we had dinner reservations at Sylvain.

34677761741_8fbcfc9bdf.jpg

33967175544_072ec2a49e.jpg

34000642603_68feaace0f.jpg

I was instantly drawn to the “Champagne and Fries” appetizer. Sure, it was $90…but it was CHAMPAGNE…..AND FRIES!

34677748001_e5213777c0.jpg

The southern antipasti plate and pappardelle Bolognese were also quite delicious….but …..CHAMPAGNE! FRIES!

34424187440_dfa6ae30f8.jpg

33967151924_6809845ba4.jpg

I tried to be more refined by making reservations at a restaurant so in demand that it required a CREDIT CARD to hold my reservation, but the truth is, in my heart, all I really want are some sweat pants and tater tots.

After dinner, we headed to Preservation Hall where I had pre-purchased the Big Shot seats to 1) put us right in the front and 2) avoid having to stand in that horrific line.

With “go drinks” in hand (Preservation Hall does not serve drinks but does allow you to bring your own) we spent the next hour enraptured by the sights and sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Preservation Hall is an exceptional French Quarter experience, in my opinion. For an hour, you feel carried away to another time and place. You forget the bustle and noise of Bourbon Street just around the corner and instead feel transported to an intimate speakeasy where the sounds of a clarinet drip like honey onto the bare hardwood beneath your tapping feet.

It’s just a little bit of magic.

34677735721_8aac7ed45a.jpg

34677732621_144e9ff7d7.jpg

We ended the night at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, seated around the candle-lit piano in back with voodoo daiquiris in hand, tossing $5 bills into the basket to scream out the name of our favorite songs for the piano man to play.

34677727891_c6d77db989.jpg

34424163140_0364bf8d83.jpg

He said he knew 18,000 songs.

I think we sang all of them.

Sunday:

34000596693_390bed989a.jpg

A night of singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of my lungs had left me hoarse.

I felt the best cure was an overstuffed bloody Mary from Café Lafitte in Exile, just around the corner from home.

34647736452_e22f6f4817.jpg

This bar claims to be the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States, and they serve up a perfect bloody Mary on Sundays, shaken with all manner of spices and secret ingredients and literally stuffed with a load of pickled goodness.

We grabbed our stuffed Marys and headed to SoBou for “brunchertainment.” The Legs and Eggs Burlesque Brunch is something that could only happen in New Orleans.

34424136320_b3865cceb7.jpg

34677712301_0696cc4e09.jpg

34424083600_32c176bb10.jpg

SoBou?

Try SoBOOOOOZY.

34770447796_af8934006c.jpg

34000551053_2648010663.jpg

I’m not sure what I loved most: the giant flask of hooch punch (the special that day was a refreshing blend of blueberry, coconut, rum, and basil) or the bedazzled cabaret dancer that kept shaking her tail feathers in our pancakes.

34770445066_68a993069a.jpg

34424119630_0b876449fc.jpg

34810217205_ff351ea423.jpg

The spirited brunch is a lengthy 2-hour, 3 course affair with a live jazz band the Dapper Dandies and, dancing by Bella Blue.

33967081824_1499ee0c61.jpg

34770412536_1759c0b357.jpg

My meal started off with the panzanella salad with spicy greens, roasted tomatoes, drenched croutons, and a five hour egg. Matt started off with the buttermilk biscuit doughnuts with a smoky bacon & cream cheese frosting.

34770433536_b08844567f.jpg

34424106580_80f4e25c90.jpg

Next up, I had the famed “Legs and Eggs,” with crispy confit chicken legs over crunchy brown sugar crusted french toast with poached eggs. Matt? Strawberry and banana pancakes. At least he didn’t have to say, “Chantilly pancakes, please,” this time. If he had uttered those words while holding that tiny little crystal cup of lavender punch, I might never have recovered.

34677684341_d675696026.jpg

34000563623_e01502e804.jpg

I am not sure why every restaurant does not offer dessert with breakfast. It was genius.

I had the “Pecan Pie Not Pie” which was a jar of pecan pie filling topped with chocolate covered cracklin’ & peanut butter whipped cream. Matt had the chocolate coma bar which came with a darling little house made marshmallow.

34000543463_81db9806fb.jpg

34810170365_21e74a2660.jpg

We walked, strolled, browsed, and shopped until we discovered it was OYSTER HAPPY HOUR TIME!

34770391076_9dfa55ed40.jpg

34770383746_1971eca4ae.jpg

34770376126_e7c2b7d1e1.jpg

34424048100_fac42a63d8.jpg

33967055454_9af8e76f82.jpg

34770340326_45b4bc29e9.jpg

34677613981_94f3a8fcf8.jpg

34000490373_4bb050e728.jpg

34647648472_15ef884d96.jpg

Then it was back to the house for booze fueled naps (much classier than passing out).

We roused ourselves in time for happy hour at Cane and Table. Cane and Table is one of the most recommended bars on the craft cocktail scene in New Orleans, and that landed it on my “must do” list.

34677609841_b3d2c4e98c.jpg

34810128095_a42d996798.jpg

34647620862_de8329dd78.jpg

A cozy little cocktail bar built into an old carriage house with a rustic patio out back, Cane and Table was instantly charming.

34000451493_9b545b20d7.jpg

34677597901_f24c2de6a2.jpg

34770289016_e4f6e240a3.jpg

33966999894_80b50ca6eb.jpg

We decided it was too hot to sit outside and opted for the cool, dark interior of the bar. The cocktails were wonderfully unique and right up my alley. One option was the “daily punch” which was literally served from an antique cut glass punch bowl on the bar.

Loved.

34423972910_7b0a9c423c.jpg

I convinced Matt to order the Boss Colada, made with fresh pineapple and lime, Angostura rum, Baska Snaps, orgeat, and Peychaud's bitters. There is nothing wrong with ordering a drink simply because it is lovely.

34423993640_44c91df796.jpg

34000438773_4149f28245.jpg

34677587311_e1a12a89af.jpg

Next, we headed next door to Coop’s place for some eats.

While there is typically a long line at Coop’s, we hit it just right and simply walked in and were seated.

34647564212_25fc9fa5d4.jpg

34677532481_0fb562c1d3.jpg

33966972224_f0cf68e008.jpg

Coop’s is one part restaurant and 3 parts dive bar. You have to be 21 to enter, so you could say it’s a bar that serves some food. It was dark and divey with a dozen rickety tables and a big wooden bar.

The service was friendly and the food was our favorite of the trip.

We started with marinated and fried blue crab claws.

33966969484_b09a3d93fb.jpg

That was followed with a hot bowl of delicious gumbo.

34770233766_22a5053d05.jpg

And then there was the “tasting plate” – a sampler of all the goodness that Coop’s has to offer: shrimp creole, red beans and rice, rabbit and sausage jambalya, and crispy creole fried chicken.

That chicken was intensely delicious.

34677520291_a0e1b83d13.jpg

34677515571_e377048087.jpg

For dessert, we grabbed a round of $5 frozen Irish coffees next door at Mollys.

34810084415_3182a37cfa.jpg

34000415943_8d58ef5daa.jpg

33966992614_ea421c0225.jpg

33966982914_6b01810cfa.jpg

We walked to Frenchmen Street, where we wandered into a couple of different art markets before heading to Snug Harbor for some jazz.

34647536622_7aefb3163c.jpg

34810039225_bc062832aa.jpg

34000365723_812fcbf97d.jpg

34810033795_e487fba9d4.jpg

34810030305_80ebf3640c.jpg

While I did love Snug Harbor, I didn’t find the experience as personal as Preservation Hall. It was simply a nice jazz show.

33966948714_9ffb9dca0b.jpg

34000379283_531eeba7bf.jpg

It was our final night in New Orleans so we decided to go out with a bang and stopped at Port of Call for late night burgers and loaded potatoes before calling it a night.

34770179776_90a4fb0fdc.jpg

34000339573_55f4a5d90d.jpg

34647502042_9ee238735b.jpg

34810006385_4463bf69f3.jpg

34770149266_f444acdcc9.jpg

Oh what a night!

33966925794_27bc094ee5.jpg

Monday:

34677470221_f57325b794.jpg

It was time for one last carb and fat filled meal.

We needed to hit the road air, so we went for something quick and easy.

I still maintain that the beignets at Café Beignet, while perfectly okay, are nothing like the beignets at Café du Monde.

34423821160_d97bbc51b3.jpg

34647458692_89d5bc9fd3.jpg

34809998185_e901e80453.jpg

However, Café Beignet had a delightful music-filled courtyard and offered up other breakfast goodies like waffles and breakfast sandwiches.

33966916204_d43dc3a3b5.jpg

New Orleans had shown us a good time filled with delicious food, great cocktails, and days filled with sunshine and live music in the streets.

But we needed to leave before we all ended up with type 2 diabetes.

Three days in New Orleans had been enough. I had to throw in the white napkin.

If I stayed here any longer, I wouldn’t fit into my pants.

Posted by vicki_h 13:59 Archived in USA Tagged jazz new_orleans cajun creole mardi_gras french_quarter bourbon_street nola big_easy Comments (0)

Hitting the backspace button: Let's go back to Abaco!

A Quick Easter Break On My Favorite Little Island.

Now that we have our own place on Guana Cay, we try to get down there every chance we get. So when we had an opportunity to make a quick, last minute trip over Easter weekend, we jumped on the chance.

I was on Cloud 9…I was heading to Bikini Hut!

34182246826_9c6414341f.jpg

An early morning flight had us on sunny Abaco by 9:00 a.m. By 9:30 we were loading our bags onto the boat, and by 10:00 we were off and running. We headed straight for Firefly on Elbow Cay for an early “welcome home” lunch.

34229284775_f604087df7.jpg

33418571933_b02301f17a.jpg

33387312924_ec46690000.jpg

33418479183_2d6e678124.jpg

33845076900_ef1d70bc0f.jpg

33845039060_d0c6b85cf6.jpg

34188517666_55efe5d441.jpg

We enjoyed frosty cocktails in the warm sun, took a quick dip, and had a long and lazy lunch.

I love the food at Firefly. Most of the offerings you find on the Abaco culinary scene are fairly similar…..fish sandwich with fries…..burger with fries….conch with fries. While it’s no secret that I love some fried food, it’s nice to know there are a few restaurants where you can find some creative options. Firefly definitely stands out as one of the best. We enjoyed ginger-sesame crusted tuna tataki followed by crispy coconut fried lobster with fresh mixed greens and the blackened catch of the day with sweet potato fries.

Not a paper plate in sight!

34188441346_0e317a1015.jpg

34098267091_1399fe3897.jpg

34098245041_fc1f703814.jpg

33387207104_c86e83a7cb.jpg

34228941705_7ba7752761.jpg

33418203323_f230c7c580.jpg

34228905595_08406d86b5.jpg

33844862250_bba66c00c8.jpg

34228825375_59b7a2a002.jpg

34228878425_d23c53d236.jpg

33387103894_9f5f3f9ef9.jpg

After lunch, we hopped over to Hopetown, intending to visit the Reef Bar and do a little shopping before heading to Guana to settle in.

34227856325_4ec587776d.jpg

33843720150_47f4987e01.jpg

33417076273_d52490d255.jpg

Hopetown was CRAZY! I have never seen that many people in town before. The Reef Bar was covered up. We realized it was spring break for a lot of families, so we downed one cocktail, took in the views, and jumped back on the boat in search of peace and quiet.

33843663960_b6b8f47e40.jpg

33385957974_80d9591134.jpg

33385897064_843f03613c.jpg

34227769065_a8b5366ef7.jpg

34096873091_9687abeca0.jpg

34227655955_408ae5dd00.jpg

33385835804_b60009bf15.jpg

33416812743_94bb03a71a.jpg

33843470170_156c8e19d1.jpg

34096691381_344209f6d9.jpg

33416712453_201c3d2ed5.jpg

34096656981_336a93f742.jpg

34096626801_8dcc052a11.jpg

33843358070_ecf0d170f5.jpg

We didn't exactly find peace and quiet. We had friends on the island and we saw their boat in the shallow lagoon on the south end of Guana Cay. We decided to try to creep in despite the fact that it was low tide.

We proceeded to get stuck, had to have our friends pull us off the sand with their boat, and I blew out my favorite flip flop when Matt told me to "GET OFF THE BOAT AND PUSH!"

Once we were safely back out to sea, we limped back to Guana in shame.

Hopetown had been a bust and the Lagoon had been a bigger bust.

We were ready to get to our little island and call it a day. We hoped it would be quieter than we had found Elbow.

It was.

Our little island was wonderfully peaceful when we arrived.

34096541691_b3a25fd6a1.jpg

34186763176_ace7d7af75.jpg

34227091155_944ca9251f.jpg

We unpacked and settled in, cleaned up, and headed to Grabbers for that first glorious Guana Cay sunset.

33385574734_faa5a238d9.jpg

33843246820_1c62d124f1.jpg

34070182402_732a1bb382.jpg

Afterwards, we met friends at Kidd’s Cove for a feast. We celebrated their last night on the island and our first with my favorite potato salad, peas n’ rice, salads, and fresh caught snapper.

34227246465_7ec9e1d3b0.jpg

34070077502_9108fd4e0f.jpg

33385446404_87b3d07c2f.jpg

33416416573_b8950da42c.jpg

34186572286_8af15840c2.jpg

The next morning I woke up early to see the sunrise and realized I had lost my voice and a splitting headache. I couldn’t be getting sick. I was on vacation!

34186541526_bfdd292aeb.jpg

I had no time to think about being sick. I had packing to do. Sure, we had just arrived, but Matt had convinced me to try spending the night on the boat that night and I needed to rally. I took some Advil and got our stuff together for our overnight trip.

It’s amazing how much stuff I needed to spend one night on the boat.

33416316183_384162e3dd.jpg

We had never slept on the boat. It had a nice cabin and it was one of the reasons we decided on the boat we did. We felt like it was a good time to try it out, since this trip was just the two of us. It would be a good way to test run it and see what worked and what didn’t.

Let me just end the suspense….nothing worked.

We had decided to venture to Treasure Cay and spend a night in the marina. It would be great, Matt said. It’s a nice day, he said. We’ll have shore power, he said. We have a nice cabin with a nice bed, he said. We have a working bathroom, he said.

Lies.

34069952212_3fda4ce43c.jpg

34096225441_57b59afc66.jpg

33416189223_78f5971d4a.jpg

33385206314_8e7f150f1c.jpg

34226944335_f90ac62401.jpg

It didn’t start off too badly. The waves were a little bigger than normal, but just enough to elicit joyful shrieks and laughs. But as we picked up speed, the waves got bigger and the wind got stronger and the shrieks were no longer joyful.

The sea was angry that day, friends. Very angry. I was a acutely aware that as a very small woman with no means to secure myself to the boat, I was in a vulnerable position. I tightened my grip on the metal handle in front of me (for which I’m sure there’s some actual boat term but that I prefer to call the “Oh Shit” bar) and held on for dear life.

Our plan was to first go to Treasure Sands on the far end of the beach for lunch and lounging before making our way back to the marina for the night. We got all the way to Treasure Sands before realizing the water was far too rough to stop there.

This meant we had to go ALL THE WAY back to Don’t Rock. Against the wind and against the waves. That’s when the $hit really hit the fan. I knew I was in trouble when Matt told me to just go below, shut the door, and hold on.

The next 20 minutes were violent. The waves pounded the boat hard enough to knock me into the ceiling repeatedly and to cause the microwave to keep flying open and shooting the glass tray across the cabin. I feared I would be decapitated at any moment.

I spent the majority of the ride wedged in with pillows while using my arms as a brace against the ceiling to keep me from flying up and hitting my head. My teeth were banging together. I was pretty sure I was going to die from a head injury caused by an airborne flashlight that had worked its way out of its cubbyhole.

34226955445_0c9151c50c.jpg

It would have probably been smarter to turn back, but we were committed.

I thought about grabbing the air horn to send Matt a distress signal, but I was pretty sure things were worse up top.

Thankfully, I am not prone to motion sickness.

When we finally pulled into Treasure Cay marina, Matt was grim faced and saltwater soaked from head to toe, and my arms felt like I had done 2 hours of push-ups.

So…sure….it wasn’t a great start.

But as we cruised into the marina, things immediately started looking up. It was calm, sunny, and beautiful.

33385162844_8ff52432dc.jpg

34069767062_2598465fee.jpg

34095999761_521e0b18c2.jpg

33842767670_03d24a503d.jpg

I set out to explore while Matt tied the boat off and got us checked in at the marina office.

34226787715_8b17a703b5.jpg

33415851623_ce04d667a3.jpg

34095836081_c7b04d1563.jpg

Treasure Cay is definitely the closest thing to a “resort” that I have seen on Abaco, but it wasn’t resorty by any means. It was still just good old Abaco.

34095820931_a2d1e9e28b.jpg

34069474682_81453b4914.jpg

34095788181_8bbbb83dce.jpg

34095765181_552280f841.jpg

34226504865_d93582e848.jpg

34226557475_37fcab78c2.jpg

34095653511_65a1698994.jpg

33842396400_334f53ed90.jpg

34069312812_7a9d9af805.jpg

34226327015_5a4ecf804d.jpg

33383222214_28d4350508.jpg

34094270501_f77bb27790.jpg

“We have a small problem,” Matt said as I returned to the boat.

After the ride over, I really didn’t think any additional problems were acceptable.

“Our power cord isn’t long enough to reach the dock so we won’t have shore power.”

That meant no lights, no microwave, no toilet, no a/c.

Let me translate that into Vicki-speak: Darkness, mosquitoes, 15 minute walk to the bathroom, and no coffee.

This was dire.

“Well,” I said, “At least it’s a cool night and we have a comfy bed.”

“That was another thing I wanted to tell you….”

Apparently, the center cushion that turns two narrow, uncomfortable benches around the table into an actual bed was not on the boat.

What was supposed to be this:

33383156314_d7795f9aae.jpg

Was, in fact, this:

34094257211_eca10f38a3.jpg

And I was feeling worse by the minute. The headache that was ever present was now being joined by a horrible sore throat.

No matter.

We were here now and there was no way in hell I was heading back out into the Sea of Doom for another boat ride.

Instead, we decided to make the best of it and grabbed a taxi to Treasure Sands. If we couldn’t have overnight luxury, we’d have afternoon luxury!

33384472524_cfee44f768.jpg

34069170792_520c588b20.jpg

33384371444_f01bd36abb.jpg

33415247643_7078f00ab3.jpg

34095240151_989e35ef61.jpg

34185255776_db81e9dee3.jpg

After the horror of the morning, Treasure Sands was pure bliss.

Treasure Sands was posh, uber hip, and an oasis of relaxation. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Poolside champagne made me forget that boat ride had ever happened, and made me temporarily forgot that we had an uncomfortable night in front of us.

34068706922_6011cc6259.jpg

34225838185_d5bc29bb9c.jpg

33841644590_9460e1717c.jpg

34068581162_464578f635.jpg

33383763414_b9c81a5c26.jpg

34225644115_4a8da09694.jpg

34184853036_ff9a8fedcf.jpg

33841456570_d6fb4ee36e.jpg

34094698451_230ba256a0.jpg

34225679225_b9c84c4517.jpg

34068530772_a3802d9a3f.jpg

Like Firefly, Treasure Sands is one of the better dining options in the Abacos. We enjoyed a decadent lunch. I opted for the open face hot fish – fresh hog snapper delicately fried “Nashville hot chicken” style and served with tangy pickles. Matt went for the always delicious lobster club. Both were served with their parmesan garlic fries.

34068511432_72caa05572.jpg

34094823751_e73c1bdc82.jpg

34094994051_71a44366f7.jpg

34185083406_c3237eda59.jpg

33383548674_487386b7c6.jpg

34094638121_1b35653ce6.jpg

34094574961_2dc910c814.jpg

34068222012_eb6ea5a57b.jpg

34225479365_31b7304cb2.jpg

34094593141_28fdbc101f.jpg

33383423774_4866c61bd2.jpg

33383394974_8dc27d37ca.jpg

34184654456_8bff8d1f67.jpg

33414421313_b87d02dedf.jpg

33383329364_7f7ee77d60.jpg

34067975072_f7f371930e.jpg

33414327163_b21afdfe30.jpg

We lounged late into the afternoon.

Mainly to avoid going back to face this:

34094257211_eca10f38a3.jpg

But eventually, we made our way back to the marina where we grabbed showers and opened some wine to enjoy with the sunset before dinner.

For a moment, I forgot about the lack of power, the long midnight walk I’d be making to the bathroom, and the two tiny, hard sleeping spaces we had waiting for us below and I realized how much I could enjoy a night on the boat. It was a beautiful night.

34067857832_f878e4050e.jpg

33840949840_38602f56a4.jpg

34094208111_7dddc83926.jpg

33840884230_6eb009545a.jpg

We walked from the marina to Coco’s for their Friday Night Fish Fry and started the evening with a hard-earned Treasure Bomb Shot. It tasted like cough syrup and made me wish I had some. I was feeling worse by the minute.

34184340426_4c459a6911.jpg

33840775740_a742c821cd.jpg

33840747080_2f499e64c1.jpg

I drowned my sorrows with a frozen blue margarita and then fed them some hot conch fritters.

33840822790_a7068d84a9.jpg

33840802130_dc960ef761.jpg

34093959271_cb0e859803.jpg

33413903503_9243eb2e60.jpg

33840637540_bfdf352278.jpg

34224783405_2a54f9254c.jpg

For dinner, I went with traditional Abaco fare and got the blackened catch, cole slaw, and mac n’ cheese. Matt got daring and ordered the Fish Fry special.

I draw the line at eating things that still have eyes.

34184095076_894d4e4e0e.jpg

33382739464_67caeb4c0a.jpg

34093816761_184e431e93.jpg

We returned for our night on the boat.

I’d love to say, “It wasn’t so bad.” I’d like to convince you that I am a good sport and made the best of a less than ideal situation.

I am not a good sport.

It was miserable.

It was a combination of my increasing congestion, a now incessant cough, and trying to sleep on a narrow sliver of hard vinyl.

It’s important to note that I am a finicky sleeper. I need everything to be exactly perfect for me to drift off: pitch black, cool, silent, with a firm pillow, a thick comforter, and a soft mattress. Matt has equated my sleep set up to being no less complex than launching the space shuttle.

The boat cabin was warm and small with light and sound from the marina flooding into every hatch that had to remain open lest we suffocate without the a/c. The “bed,” we’ll just call it that for fun because we all know that wasn’t a bed, was excessively small and ferociously hard. Because I only brought bedding for ONE bed, not 2 separate beds, we had to split the bedding, so it was completely insubstantial.

I’m not sure who was more miserable, me, who coughed all night long and woke myself up with a loud congested snort every time I managed to doze off, or Matt who had to lay awake and listen to me cough all night long and snore myself awake every 23 minutes.

Oh, and did I mention that it was a FULL MOON? A very huge, bright, shining in the hatch above my head FULL MOON?

Let’s not even talk about the long walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

It was a long night.

33382683854_5ba9a53ce2.jpg

But we survived it. As the sun rose over Treasure Cay, I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer.

34093750251_e36ed4a343.jpg

34224617005_538fba14d2.jpg

We made our way to the small quick market and perused the laughable and awkward medicinal offerings. I found a $24 bottle of DayQuil and an $8 bottle of some unrecognizable nasal spray.

It would have to do.

It’s amazing what a little medicine can do. I felt 90% human and went in search of coffee, since we didn’t have any power.

I found myself at Florence’s and remembered reading about the legendary cinnamon rolls generated by this modest cafe. I popped in for coffee (heaven!), breakfast sandwiches, and ….mmmmm……..cinnamon rolls.

34093692681_9d6fbe80ba.jpg

34067332692_2a20ab0217.jpg

34183884176_fd69169447.jpg

34067280622_c66be10ea2.jpg

Obviously, whatever illness I had did nothing to my appetite.

After some coffee and sugar, I felt 99% human.

At least for the time being.

We made our way back to Guana and marveled at the beautiful day.

33382532514_b500c1f5c7.jpg

With no plans for the day, we headed to Mermaids on the Rocks for lunching and lounging.

If you recall, it opened just last month, about a week before our March visit.

I still really loved the place.

34183808706_c8b3451892.jpg

34224409105_cbb525ec15.jpg

34224303175_62d0b874a7.jpg

Tish, the bartender, mixed us up some fantastic cocktails that we enjoyed with their killer view.

We knew their dinner was good, so we wanted to try lunch. It was fantastic.

34183766436_11db846b64.jpg

33382430034_9b96da3088.jpg

33382408344_139b5c6711.jpg

34224346415_693bc7402a.jpg

Oooey, gooey loaded nachos, a cheesy burger, and a panko coconut fish sandwich made for lunch perfection.

Their crystal clear pool made the perfect place for a post-lunch siesta.

34067038742_ac0f847d64.jpg

33840103130_0294a24f01.jpg

34093401731_67025ede16.jpg

We followed Mermaids with trip to Grabbers for a dip in the water.

34067019802_b6d9efafef.jpg

33382262474_3f47a52869.jpg

34093274921_264d81f82e.jpg

34183490736_364343c0a4.jpg

33382187814_62fcb8dcc2.jpg

34183416136_90e20be26f.jpg

My DayQuil was starting to wear off, so we headed home. I grabbed some Vicks and Advil at Guana Grocery to round out my vacation cocktail that I hoped would get me through the rest of the trip.

33413144433_e343759ac5.jpg

After some down time, we headed to Grabbers for sunset and drinks.

Do we get tired of going to the same places over and over?

No.

34066823852_f8b4261692.jpg

33839823280_05ce98153d.jpg

34183305776_7c6d16d626.jpg

34066747742_0dbae53fe7.jpg

34223935115_0109343445.jpg

34093000291_7853766d8e.jpg

33381989304_0a3cf2451f.jpg

34223869105_40b5167893.jpg

34066616422_306fdffb6e.jpg

34092938951_64fe09cb1d.jpg

34066554432_77879e6cf5.jpg

We followed that with rib night at Orchid Bay.

33381860984_c43af79585.jpg

34066500052_c7c3db2241.jpg

The next morning was Easter Sunday. We hadn’t thought to bring church clothes, so we headed to the beach to have our own sunrise service.

34183004076_360bdb4b4d.jpg

As the sun rose higher into the sky, I was not only thankful for the gift of God’s son and my salvation, but for all the gifts he has blessed my life with.
What a beautiful reminder of what really matters.

34066418902_48a3225959.jpg

33412747553_4bcec7fa66.jpg

33412706893_9ba08bce64.jpg

33381666254_f167fc624b.jpg

Not interested in another bone jarring boat ride, we decided to keep ourselves parked on Guana for the day, as the wind hadn’t really subsided.

We spent a lazy morning at Grabbers doing a lot of nothing. Which was absolutely perfect.

33381645164_be4ebc1d32.jpg

34223567945_bc5f7f8799.jpg

34182798716_9d92a3bba9.jpg

34223491875_aa8d2f76d2.jpg

34223438285_6918e01f66.jpg

34092458131_21be4dca18.jpg

34223392905_2522eae846.jpg

34066107992_e86da7544b.jpg

34066081062_f464fc0a05.jpg

34182593926_7502341f14.jpg

33381264384_00725b84f1.jpg

34182528446_ef350993cd.jpg

33381282394_7743f88276.jpg

I felt like death on a cracker, but was surviving on a steady diet of DayQuil and alcohol.

And cheeseburgers.

34182498596_3eb0148da8.jpg

Nippers Sunday Funday and Easter went together about as well as cats and sweaters, so we took a pass. It just didn’t feel right.

34223161115_0096149d4e.jpg

34223124225_414e9d29ba.jpg

We chose to end the trip with dinner at Mermaids – seared tuna for me and pasta carbonara for Matt.

Mermaids was still hitting home runs.

33838903820_94f0f3cd15.jpg

33838862620_b74c4e17af.jpg

33381076184_a8fac04382.jpg

34065786352_1d98f7f79e.jpg

Our trip had come to an end, but that was probably for the best. I was quickly running out of $24 DayQuil and the closest thing Guana Cay had to a doctor was Troy, who owns the dive shop and also serves as the entire Fire Department and the island’s entire EMS division.

It was time to head home….and for once….I was okay with that.

34182217376_fa6401fd87.jpg

Next up: We’re heading south to let the good times roll in New Orleans! Stay tuned!

Posted by vicki_h 08:19 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (4)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 217) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »