A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about island

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)

CAKE BY THE OCEAN: A 50th Birthday Bash in Paradise

large_1-jost-pano_27651159110_o.jpg

I have found out there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them” – Mark Twain

It was a cold, gray day in December 2014. Matt and I were drowning our Seasonal Affective Disorder in a pitcher of top shelf margaritas at our favorite Mexican dive. Somehow, the conversation turned to Matt’s 50th birthday. I mean, if you’re already depressed, you may as well dredge up every miserable topic you can think of, right?

Despite the fact that it was still a year and a half away, it was already weighing heavily on his mind.

“Why don’t we plan something fun for your birthday, like when we took all my friends to the Bahamas for my 40th? You should look forward to your birthday, not dread it,” I said, through a mouthful of tortilla chips.

We started visualizing what such a trip could look like….where we would go…..who we would invite….and the more tequila we drank, the more amazing the idea seemed.

Why should he sit at home and bury his head in misery? Instead, we thought about going big and planning the trip of a lifetime.

By the bottom of the pitcher, we had solved all of the world’s problems, had figured out a cure for cancer, and had planned a birthday trip for Matt’s 50th. We had decided to rent a villa on Jost Van Dyke and invite our friends.

With 4 bedrooms, we could invite 3 other couples, but who? How to decide? We loved all of our friends and there were 12 of them.

“Let’s just invite them all and see who can come,” Matt said through the tequila haze.

It was a perfect plan.

What better way to turn 50 than do it with all of your favorite people in paradise?

1-invite_27651167500_o.jpg

We invited 12 people.

12 people said “yes.”

This was an unanticipated turn of events.

Of course they all said yes. They have heard us rave about Jost Van Dyke for years.

Jost Van Dyke is simply one of the best places on earth. Not only does it have one of the most famous beach bars in the Caribbean, the Soggy Dollar Bar, a veritable rite of passage for any beach bum, it has TWO of the most famous beach bars in the Caribbean with Foxy’s just a stumble away. Jost Van Dyke is an island of pure magic; a bubble of happiness and perfection, an oasis of sunshine and rainbows fueled by painkillers and rum punch. It is Caribbean utopia.

So that was it, then. We were going. All 14 of us.

We were going to need a bigger house.

jost1.jpg

Forget all those trust-building exercises where you have to assemble a puzzle together, or fall into one another’s arms with your eyes closed. I cannot imagine a more arduous test of any personal relationships than travelling together to a remote island as a group of 14.

Don’t get me wrong, I have vacationed with all of these people and loved it.

SEPARATELY.

I just wasn’t sure how the dynamics of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE OF PEOPLE I KNOW being in one place at one time would work.

Some of our friends had never even met each other.

Still unsure whether this was lunacy or genius, we booked another house.

God help us.

God help Jost Van Dyke.

It was officially on.

1-50_27828294192_o.jpg

SATURDAY: JOST VAN DYKE RULES.

Never mind that the mean age for this group was just over 50, the “House Rules” for this trip read something like a frat party:

• Wake up smiling every day.
• Remember that drinking rum before 10:00 a.m. makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic.
• Calories do not count on vacation. Anyone who attempts to exercise will be tied up and left as shark food.
• No talking about politics or the election. The first person to bring up Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton gets voted off the island.
• Stay hydrated.
• The least drunk people each day are in charge of looking out for the drunkest people each day.
• You can’t be the drunkest person each day. In the interest of fairness, please take turns. Except Matt. He can be the drunkest person every day.
• This is your vacation. If you need some “me time,” take it. Of course the rest of us will talk about you while you’re gone. We’re not Puritans.
• No passing out in the common rooms of the houses. No one wants to wake up and tiptoe around your drooling, lifeless body.
• If you don’t want to see it on Facebook, don’t do it.
• Yes to drinking games, spontaneous dance-offs, group singing, laughter, snacks, and naps.
• No to arguing, fighting, whining, crying, working, dieting, exercising, or excessive sobriety.
• Relax.
• Have fun.

A list of rules may seem unnecessary for a group of mature adults. This was not, however, a group of MATURE adults.

This was exemplified before our flight even took off as one male member of our party showed up on to the American Airlines gate dressed like a pregnant woman while screaming that Matt was the baby daddy.

edit0n4a00..317235894_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..929562865_o.jpg

Yep. This was going to be a week to remember.

Despite the fact that we had all gotten up at 3:00 a.m. to make our early flights, the mood on the plane was downright joyful.

WE WERE GOING TO JOST VAN DYKE!

edit0n4a00..650917450_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..650940270_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..317194954_o.jpg

We landed on St. Thomas at 11:30 and I sent everyone over to grab their free thimble full of rum while I sent Matt out to find a taxi large enough for 14 people.

edit0n4a00..650902350_o.jpg

He found one all right!

With luggage and bodies crammed into every nook and cranny, we set off for Red Hook.

edit0n4a00..650886860_o.jpg

4 carsick passengers, 7 impatient horn blows, and 23 hairpin turns later, we were dropped off at Duffy’s Love Shack where we hoped to grab a quick bite before catching the 2:30 ferry.

It was going on 1:00, so this seemed possible.

Yes, I wasn't really thinking about "island time."

edit0n4a00..895061456_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..895046106_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..929440675_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..316347733_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..929414175_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..317099274_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..894921916_o.jpg

Despite the fact that there was exactly ONE very slow bartender and ONE even slower waitress, we somehow managed to eat, drink, and get merry in time to catch the ferry.

By the time we arrived on Jost Van Dyke and cleared customs, it was 3:30.

We had been up for 12 hours. We were hot. We were dirty. We were exhausted.

I had rented Escape Villa and Pink House Bougainvillea because I had a large group of people, a very special occasion, and I needed top notch service.

Despite the fact that I paid a hefty sum to rent these 2 houses for a week, I did not get top notch service.

The materials sent to me by the managers for the houses clearly stated that the caretakers would gladly help me provision the houses, accepting delivery of groceries and putting them away. This was one of the reasons I rented these properties.

From the Pink House information packet: Call our General Managers (Franky and Lydia) so they know what your order's delivery schedule is estimated to be. Please confirm with them a pick-up from the dock at Great Harbor and delivery to the villas.

From the Escape Villa information packet: The property managers will arrange to have your groceries picked up at the ferry dock and delivered to Escape Villa and waiting for you upon arrival. You will just have to email the Property Managers with the information and confirm it with them.

However, my repeated emails (which started 4 weeks before our trip), went ignored. When I finally pressed for assistance after 10 days of emailing, the response I received was rather curt:

jost2.jpg

Two sentences that told me to do it myself. And no explanation about why or alternatives offered.

I envisioned 14 travel weary adults, ready for nothing more than a hot shower and a good meal, arriving to 50 boxes of groceries that needed to be loaded, transported, unloaded, and unpacked.

I appealed to the managers of the houses, sending this mournful plea (I am not too proud to grovel and would have done just about anything at this point): “It will be somewhat difficult to arrive with 14 people and luggage to also pick up boxes of groceries from the dock and transport them to the house on a taxi. If there is any way that this service can be provided, I would appreciate it, otherwise, I suppose we will simply try to do it on our own as best we can.”

I offered to pay extra for the provisioning assistance.

I received one response that said, “Please coordinate this with Lydia.” I received no other response.

Wow.

Not what you expect for $12,000.

So that is how we arrived: a sweaty, bedraggled group of 14 after 12 hours of travel that were forced to split up so that the women could get all of the luggage to the house alone and start getting it unpacked while the men sat in the sun at the ferry dock and to wait an additional 45 minutes for the ferry with our groceries to arrive, load the groceries onto a taxi, unload them at the house, and then all of us spend 30 minutes putting them away.

edit0n4a00..827832242_o.jpg

At the moment when I was dragging our two fifty pound suitcases up the very steep driveway to the house by myself, I would have paid any amount of money for help. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even offered the opportunity.

To add insult to injury, the caretaker wasn’t even at the house when we arrived. When she finally showed up about 45 minutes later, she spent a scant 5 minutes showing us the house and left. We never heard from her or saw her again during our trip.

Even after I communicated my displeasure with the owner of the houses after our trip – not one word of apology. His response was “We have established relationships with vendors who provide our guest top service. In this case, while you’ve personally had a good experience with Bobby’s, we’ve had dozens that have not and therefore we do not use them anymore. We advised you this was the case and simply stated that you would need to coordinate with them on your own if you didn’t want to use our preferred vendor.”

Seriously???? It’s important to note that NO ONE advised me at any time prior to my arrival (not during the 4 weeks of emails that I continued to send in hopes of some assistance) that they would not help if we used Bobby’s rather than their grocery store of choice. The only communication I received in those 4 weeks were the two sentences that told me to do it myself with no explanation about why.

And frankly, I don’t think it should be their choice to force a guest to use a more expensive grocery store when that guest has a well-established history of good service with another vendor. Just. Incredible.

So….instead of arriving to this:

jost3.jpg

We arrived to this:

edit0n4a00..317005614_o.jpg

Escape Villa and Pink House?

As a well-travelled individual who has rented many homes on many island in all price ranges……My advice is…

DON’T DO IT.

Stay at White Bay Villas and put the other $10,000 in your pocket. Not only will you be treated well, you’ll have a lot of money left over for painkillers (or for sending your kids to college).

Hours later, we finally had everything put away and everyone got a much needed shower (and a much needed drink!).

The party had gotten derailed. Instead of arriving to paradise, my group had arrived to a carboard box filled hell complete with sweat, tears, and Ritz Crackers that needed to be put away.

As the official Funmeister of Matt’s 50th Birthday, I had to get things back on track. I knew there was only one thing that could make everything right with the world again: SHOTS.

edit0n4a00..852244951_o.jpg

edit0n4a00..827809882_o.jpg

Okay, make that two things:

edit0n4a00..316161043_o.jpg

FOXY’S – BECAUSE EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER WHEN YOU HAVE DUSTY UNDERWEAR HANGING ABOVE YOUR HEAD.

I knew I had been successful when the waitress at Foxy’s came out for the third time to tell us that the pole was necessary to hold the building up and was not, despite our best efforts, put there for dancing.

The party was ON.

edit0n4a00..852213411_o.jpg

SUNDAY: PARADISE DOES HAVE A NAME. IT’S GERTRUDE.

The forecast had called for mostly cloudy with an 80% chance of rain and storms for every day of our trip. I know better than to pay attention to a Caribbean forecast, but, like the rest of you, I can’t help myself.

We all know we do it.

It’s like looking behind the shower curtain when you walk into the bathroom even though you know there isn’t anyone in there. It’s pointless, but you are helpless to stop yourself.

When I woke up that first morning, I thought about that forecast.

After the arrival fiasco the day before, I prayed that we didn’t wake up to gray skies. That was a blow I didn’t think even the Funmeister could pull the group back from.

edit0n4a01..851845141_o.jpg

We woke up to a gloriously perfect White Bay Day.

I was as happy as a pig in the sunshine.

edit0n4a01..316107283_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..894767896_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..929149735_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..316022213_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..650508890_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..894645996_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..929002935_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..851886751_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..315870943_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..316566284_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..316620644_o.jpg

As the official master of ceremonies, I was in charge of the itinerary. (Was this even a question????). I had decided our first day had to be a White Bay Day. We had no plans more aspiring than seeing how long it took to get lounge chair marks on our butts.

The first order of business, however, was collecting 16 free painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar.

How do you get 16 FREE painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar, you ask? You have extremely awesome friends that purchased them months before on their own trip to Jost Van Dyke.

It also helps if your super nice friends can’t count and accidentally buy you 2 extra so that the Birthday Boy and his master of ceremonies, the Funmeister, can two fist it before it’s even time for lunch.

edit0n4a02..315911464_o.jpg

edit0n4a02..928173605_o.jpg

edit0n4a02..314995753_o.jpg

On the “party end” of White Bay, my favorite base of operations is Gertrude’s. Not only does she have full size reclining chairs, she has “pour your own” rum punch.

My version of Gertrude’s rum punch has enough rum in it to kill a small horse.

Or Gary Busey.

The day was spent drinking copious amounts of rum and alternating between getting pruney in the gin clear water and getting marginally sunburned on a lounge chair in between sporadic bouts of bad dancing.

edit0n4a01..851985431_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..827357182_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..316525844_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..851952071_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..650167090_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..851635601_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..851665191_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..650127430_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..315493243_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..894179716_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..650000380_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..649908380_o.jpg

edit0n4a01..826957022_o.jpg

Lunch found us at Seddy’s One Love downing lobster quesadillas, wings, and the island’s best bushwackers.

edit0n4a02..649471510_o.jpg

edit0n4a02..826529702_o.jpg

edit0n4a02..893588076_o.jpg

That was followed by more dancing and generously giving away all of my chips to two little boys who asked me if they could have them.

With those faces, I would have given them my kidney if they had asked.

edit0n4a02..850890141_o.jpg

Foxy’s Taboo was supposed to be having a Regatta party that afternoon, so we pried ourselves off our chairs and headed that way.

We found….nothing.

No live music. No dancing. No people. No party.

Although we did find some exceptional cocktails.

edit0n4a02..850858911_o.jpg

edit0n4a02..927871155_o.jpg

Everyone was a little too salty, a little too tired, and a little too lubricated for another party anyway, so we headed back to the house for much needed showers and naps.

Besides, Ivan’s told us they were having an 80s party that night. We needed to rest up.

The plan was to put on some obnoxious 80s-wear and head to Ivan’s where we would do the robot, listen to some Billy Idol, and grab some eats.
As I sent everyone inside to “gear up,” we sent a scout over to see what was going on at Ivan’s. It was only feet from Escape Villa, but we couldn’t hear any music. That seems suspicious.

Apparently, Ivan’s had gotten the same memo Foxy’s Taboo had gotten and the party was not meant to be.

What does a Funmeister do when she has promised a night of 80s fun to 13 adults and has forced them to put on costumes only to find out there is no party?

She makes shots and starts her own party. (Shots are the vacation equivalent of duct tape - they fix EVERYTHING)

edit0n4a02..314698373_o.jpg

What no one knew was that one of our 50 lb suitcases had contained a secret:

jost4.jpg

The Rockville was 800 watts of musical awesomeness. Who needs a party at Ivan’s when you have the Rockville, an iPod full of 80s tunes, and 14 adults in costumes? Not to mention strobe lights and a fully stocked bar.

It was EPIC.

The party was so good we had strangers wandering up from the beach to join us. We could have charged admission.

edit0n4a02..315633774_o.jpg

edit0n4a02..893334796_o.jpg

edit0n4a02..314524193_o.jpg

edit0n4a02..826072082_o.jpg

It was around 9:00 p.m. when I noticed Matt staring blearily into space while shoveling handfuls of chips into his mouth that I realized I hadn’t thought about dinner when we made the shift in plans. I had 14 adults who had been drinking all day and had no dinner.

I made a quick call to Vinnie at Corsair’s.

“Is it too late to order some pizzas for delivery?” I said in a state of panic. “I have 14 people who need some grease and dough in their bellies STAT!”

Vinnie delivered a stack of pizzas to our door in 30 minutes.

I am pretty sure he should be called Saint Vincent.

edit0n4a03..826061312_o.jpg

MONDAY: BOATS & HOES.

edit0n4a03..826046402_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..314454973_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..927596805_o.jpg

One of Matt’s birthday week requests was to charter a catamaran to take us out a couple of days.

Captain Colin of Jost Van Dyke Scuba had just what we needed: a 42’ catamaran with 1000 square feet of deck space and free rum punch.

edit0n4a03..315371254_o.jpg

Everyone was still felt like Vicki Prince was screaming “Let’s go Crazy!” in their ears, so we started the day slowly, with some much needed boat lounging.

edit0n4a03..893207926_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..893192816_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..893176886_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..315305444_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..927498995_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..314329863_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..825904752_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..927456615_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..648875290_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..314191663_o.jpg

Cpt. Colin took us to the Indians for an incredible snorkel.

This was followed by a nice spread of snacks on the boat.

And rum punch.

edit0n4a03..315151544_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..850268691_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..648724230_o.jpg

That’s pretty much where the civilized portion of the day concluded.

Next stop? Where else do you go once the rum punch starts to flow? The Willy T, of course! (every Funmeister knows that)

This broken down pirate ship just off the beach at Norman Island was definitely the place to let this group get their fun on.

edit0n4a03..850202601_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..315059204_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..648681340_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..850128311_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..825607092_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..313966033_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..825554252_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..892700836_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..648532890_o.jpg

We started off with lunch.

Lunch turned in to drinks.

Drinks turned into…well….I have been instructed not to overshare. I’ll just let you use your imagination.

Let’s just say it made 80’s night look like your grandma’s tea party.

edit0n4a04..927081035_o.jpg

edit0n4a03..648523890_o.jpg

edit0n4a04..313878633_o.jpg

edit0n4a04..648497020_o.jpg

edit0n4a04..849960211_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..825351842_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..313728993_o.jpg

876F1F38E884AA0FABC1FDB3BF6A4F2E.jpg

The boat ride back to Jost was uneventful, although we did have one person throwing up off the back of the boat, three passed out in the salon, and one puking into a zip-loc bag.

Fun times!

edit0n4a05..919667885_o.jpg

The Funmeister passed waters around and we managed to get everyone back to Jost Van Dyke intact. Getting them off the boat and onto the dingy and then from the dingy to the dock was an entirely different matter.

No one fell in the water, so we will call it a success.

I sent everyone in for naps and showers, letting them know dinner was at Sidney’s Peace & Love that night.

Sidney’s was a perfect end to the day. The lobsters were HUGE and we made short work of them. All that was left was the carnage.

edit0n4a05..892428076_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..313646073_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..314560834_o.jpg

TUESDAY: THE ULTIMATE F WORD.

I have heard it said that a birthday is nature’s way of telling you to eat more cake.

A FIFTIETH birthday is apparently nature’s way of telling you to drink more rum.

Because that’s what we did.

All day long.

It was Matt’s birthday and we were going to party like it was his birthday.

It was another picture-perfect White Bay Day.

1-white-ba..895239166_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..892333076_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..892317626_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..825070342_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..892263926_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..849584011_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..825003062_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..926176295_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..647543960_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..926104505_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..926127285_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..891733866_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..647559610_o.jpg

edit0n4a05..849121451_o.jpg

We took up our usual spots at Gertrude’s and soaked it in.

It was a perfect day filled with sunshine and friends, beach ducks, interesting strangers, Seddy’s magic tricks, lobster rolls and spicy wings, and enough rum to pickle a small army.

edit0n4a06..925625955_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..647094800_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..823946942_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..646969100_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..824042772_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..312324393_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..824321952_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..823864652_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..891073896_o.jpg

edit0n4a06..312676563_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..313247344_o.jpg

I wanted Matt’s birthday dinner to be special. The restaurants on Jost are great for a beachy lunch or drinks, but none of them seemed right for a nice birthday dinner. The Sandcastle no longer did dinners on the beach, and the thought of being crammed in their dark cement hole of a restaurant just didn’t feel right for this occasion.

I had gone out on a limb and contacted Liz Henderson of Hendo’s Hideout. Hendo’s was just being built when we had last been on Jost and I remembered it being a beautiful building with a stunning view. The restaurant and bar had just opened 2 months earlier, serving drinks and lunch only.

It was a risky move. We had never even seen the completed restaurant. We had NO IDEA what their food or drinks were like. They didn’t even serve dinner.

But I had a gut feeling and I went with it.

When Liz agreed to do a private dinner party for Matt’s birthday, I was so excited. And nervous. But mostly excited.

Everyone put on their beach best. You’d have never know this group had been moderately intoxicated for 4 days.

edit0n4a07..312169013_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..313220734_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..646852150_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..823766732_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..646461290_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..890618706_o.jpg

At least until the guys put on a pre-dinner concert, but maybe that was because of the birthday shots.

edit0n4a07..848290741_o.jpg

We walked down the beach to Hendo’s, wondering what to expect.

Liz had decorated a beach front table beautifully. We were greeted by delicate starfish and small votives filled with sand.

edit0n4a07..646314570_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..924992805_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..924978395_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..646404420_o.jpg

She immediately took drink orders and we noticed right off that these weren’t your average “White Bay” drinks. It was less rum punch and bushwacker and more passionfruit margarita and champagne cocktail. The drinks tasted as good as they looked.

edit0n4a07..646337910_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..924923055_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..646300370_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..890484966_o.jpg

Champagne buckets arrived, filled with bubbly and ice.

edit0n4a07..311780053_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..311647263_o.jpg

The dinner was getting off to a great start.

Liz had provided a menu in advance and we had sent in our orders the day before, so within minutes of our arrival, we had delicious cocktails and mouth-watering food.

The food. OMG. THE FOOD!

edit0n4a07..890491536_o.jpg

edit0n4a07..646279000_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..890463276_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..847751131_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..924832085_o.jpg

The food was nothing short of amazing. We had lobster with butter lime sauce, BBQ ribs (because every group has the one person that won’t eat seafood!), grilled mahi-mahi with peppers, and a creole snapper that was to DIE FOR.

The champagne flowed. The food was phenomenal. The candles sparkled. The air was filled with the laughter of our friends.

It was perfect.

Liz had knocked it out of the ballpark.

Run, don’t walk, to Hendo’s Hideout the next time you are on Jost Van Dyke. You will thank me.

Our group agreed it was everyone’s favorite meal of the entire trip.

Then it was time to head back to the villa for cake.....by the ocean (I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself).

Matt had specifically requested a chocolate peanut butter cake, so I had made it myself. After drinking rum all day.

Cake mixes should come with "island directions." Kind of like "high altitude directions," but more geared toward simple things that you forget in a slightly altered state like, "First, open the box. Next, cut open the plastic pouch. Then, pour cake mix into a bowl, crack the eggs before putting them in the bowl, do not put the shells in the bowl." That would have been helpful.

I really think it turned out quite nice, complete with “nutter butter sand” and chocolate seashells (and enough candles to start a forest fire).

edit0n4a08..312647874_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..312627674_o.jpg

Then it was time to break out the Rockville and dance the calories away.

Happy Birthday, Matt!

You may be 50, but to me, that just means you are 5 perfect 10’s. (Can I hear a collective “awwwww….,” please?)

1matt5birt..316472683_o.jpg

WEDNESDAY: RUM SOAKED, SUN SOAKED, AND WELL….JUST SOAKED.

The party hadn’t stopped since we had arrived. Our fun switches had been in the “ON” position for 4 days. I think one of our friends summed it up perfectly when she looked at me the night before and said, “I just realized I have been drinking for 13 hours.”

We needed a break.

We were exhausted.

As luck would have it, this was the one overcast day we had on the entire trip. It was a blessing.

We had booked a second catamaran day with Cpt. Colin.

edit0n4a08..311562533_o.jpg

For a minute, he wasn’t sure if we were the same group he had dropped off 2 days before. We were quiet and subdued.

It was time for a down day.

We decided to put up the sails and sail to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. This would take a couple of hours and give everyone plenty of time to relax.

edit0n4a08..923762125_o.jpg

When we arrived at Cane Garden Bay, we decided to head to the Callwood Distillery. Matt and I had spent an entire WEEK in a house across the street from the distillery the previous November and had never made it inside.

No one really knows how long the distillery has been in operation, but the Callwood family has been operating it for 200 years after taking it over from the Arundel family.

edit0n4a08..924292575_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..889933066_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..822484412_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..924247775_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..312112404_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..645735080_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..924190705_o.jpg

As the sign demanded, we bellied up to the bar, put down our $1 and sampled 4 shots of their rum, all aged to various degrees.

The 90 proof Arundel cane rum called the “horny rum” was clearly the group favorite.

I’m not sure what that says about our group.

edit0n4a08..847004931_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..889818496_o.jpg

After making some rum purchases, we headed to Myett’s for lunch. We ordered a rainbow variety of frozen drinks, wings, burgers, and sticky-sweet chicken thighs.

edit0n4a08..889764316_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..822338052_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..822129812_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..846883001_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..311907784_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..889585766_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..822165372_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..311811554_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..923829565_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..822142162_o.jpg

Did I mention that we were exhausted?

edit0n4a08..310770433_o.jpg

On the way back to Jost Van Dyke, we passed by Sandy Spit and made a B-Line for Little Jost Van Dyke.

edit0n4a08..311762194_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..822063722_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..311685264_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..645316110_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..822015292_o.jpg

The B-Line Beach Bar, that is.

edit0n4a08..310556953_o.jpg

This little bar sits by itself on a little curve of sand and serves up a delicious drink called the passion confusion. There were even chunks of frozen pineapple floating in there.

edit0n4a08..311576194_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..645124940_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..311566964_o.jpg

edit0n4a08..923565005_o.jpg

We found a birthday message to Matt that had been left by our friends in December.

edit0n4a09..311513424_o.jpg

And we left a message of our own.

edit0n4a08..923550595_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..821880022_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..310402753_o.jpg

Then it was back to the villas for our requisite afternoon siesta.

We headed to Corsairs that night for dinner. While Vinnie’s pizzas are top notch and had really saved our bacon a couple of nights before, the rest of the menu is exceptional and begged to be sampled.

edit0n4a09..846308931_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..846282451_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..310241503_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..821690302_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..821663412_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..923241205_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..644865840_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..888845276_o.jpg

Matt and I had creamy lobster mac n’ cheese and the spicy cioppino with a fresh salad. It was out of this world.

I’m not sure how we had the energy to stop for a drink at Foxy’s before heading home, but we did.

edit0n4a09..923170165_o.jpg

Then it was time to head back and get some sleep, lest we end up looking like this guy:

edit0n4a09..310140333_o.jpg

THURSDAY: STRESS FREE.

So far, we had spent our beach days on what I call the “party end” of White Bay. This is where you will find the Soggy Dollar Bar, an inordinate number of people in straw cowboy hats, and a sea of boats pulled up to the shore. It’s crowded. It’s loud. It’s fun.

But sometimes, you want the quiet end of White Bay. That’s when you park it at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar.

edit0n4a09..923148185_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..846045431_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..821511212_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..888691146_o.jpg

We lined up 14 chairs, mixed up some rum punch, and proceeded to take over the place.

It appeared the “off day” had worked it’s magic and everyone had their groove back.

edit0n4a09..923082315_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..644656790_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..922873645_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..923101525_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..888742446_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..888674806_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..888556896_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..821351912_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..309760863_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..888751896_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..845758471_o.jpg

That was a good thing, because we had a lot of rum to drink in two days.

edit0n4a09..821254502_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..888386156_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..888418636_o.jpg

I guess Ivan’s wasn’t the quite end of the beach anymore.

When the hungries hit, we headed back to Hendo’s for lunch. Dinner had been so great, lunch had to be pretty good.

edit0n4a09..310669904_o.jpg

edit0n4a09..845684621_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..644377000_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..845641661_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..845618341_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..888162476_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..821041912_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..821008142_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..845555441_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..644197410_o.jpg

It was good.

The afternoon was spent doing a whole lot of nothing.

edit0n4a10..309464793_o.jpg

That evening, we all got cleaned up and decided to head to Ivan’s for the Thursday night buffet, because we certainly needed more all-you-can-eat on this trip!

Ivan’s didn’t disappoint and the ladies serves us up some mean chicken and ribs.

edit0n4a10..922353745_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..887899886_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..309230633_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..887798496_o.jpg

We ate enough to send us all into a food coma for the night.

Or was that the rum?

It was getting hard to tell.

edit0n4a10..820704172_o.jpg

FRIDAY: AIN’T NO PARTY LIKE A HATFIELD PARTY, ‘CUZ A HATFIELD PARTY DON’T STOP.

edit0n4a10..820615622_o.jpg

edit0n4a11..308877513_o.jpg

edit0n4a11..844922471_o.jpg

One of our friends had come up with this phrase on a previous trip and it had stuck. Because it was true.

We were good at this.

We had sustained the party for a week with very few down times. Even Vicki the Funmeister was impressed with this group’s stamina.

It was our last day, so we wanted to make it a good one. We decided to stay on “our beach” for the day. We lined up the chairs, blew up the floats, dragged out the paddle boards, anchored the floating mattresses, and turned up the Rockville.

The day was non-stop fun.

edit0n4a10..643845280_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..887780906_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..309108263_o.jpg

edit0n4a10..820596592_o.jpg

edit0n4a11..643702990_o.jpg

edit0n4a11..820422152_o.jpg

edit0n4a11..845023071_o.jpg

We went through every phase of beach drinking that day.

There was the “this is the most fun I have ever had in my life,” phase:

edit0n4a11..844901301_o.jpg

That was followed by the “I love you, man,” phase:

edit0n4a11..309968574_o.jpg

Next up was the “we are amazing dancers,” phase:

edit0n4a11..017753995_o.jpg

john0n4a11..639399580_o.jpg

Things started to wind down with the “I've fallen....and I can't get up,” phase:

edit0n4a11..404274713_o.jpg

And finally, the, “let’s just take a nap,” phase:

edit0n4a11..844727261_o.jpg

With one dinner left, we let Matt pick where he wanted his last meal on the island.

Of course he picked Sidney’s Peace & Love for another monster lobster. He is painfully addicted to their potato salad.

edit0n4a11..887177636_o.jpg

edit0n4a11..887154996_o.jpg

edit0n4a12..820032622_o.jpg

edit0n4a12..921483495_o.jpg

edit0n4a12..819984732_o.jpg

edit0n4a12..309354274_o.jpg

edit0n4a12..921433305_o.jpg

Before we knew it, we were hanging up our own shirt at Foxy's and taking our last sleep on the birthday island.

edit0n4a11..921526295_o.jpg

edit0n4a12..886963866_o.jpg

SATURDAY: ADIOS TO JOST….IT’S THAT TIME OF DAY.

It’s the point that comes in every trip: time to go home.

edit0n4a12..308437103_o.jpg

I couldn’t believe how the week had gone. It had been amazing. Near perfect.

All 14 of us had gotten along so well that it was almost frightening (rum helps with that, I think). There had been no fights, no arguments, and no hurt feelings. We practically held hands and sang “Kumbayah” every day like a commune full of hippies in an old farmhouse in Woodstock filled with cats.

The weather had been great. Everything had gone well. We never ran out of potato chips. And no one got hurt (except for one unfortunate incident involving a member of our party and a large shrub.....).

I couldn’t believe how great the week had gone. I couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to be able to spend a week in paradise. I couldn’t believe how blessed we were to call these people our friends.

Ehr ma gawd, that’s some sappy crappy, isn’t it? I blame all the rum I guzzled over the trip for that word vomit. My liver is still trying to recover.

(But I meant every word of it)

So, here’s to Matt! Here’s to his 50th! Here’s to great friends!

If this is what we did for his 50th, I better start the planning for mine NOW.

edit0n4a07..311842603_o.jpg

Posted by vicki_h 11:05 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged island caribbean tortola jost_van_dyke bvi british_virgin_islands Comments (5)

Weekend Getaway to Guana Cay

FRIDAY

Now that we have our own little place on Guana Cay, we run down every chance we get. When we recently had an opportunity to head down for a long weekend with use of a free airplane, we jumped at the opportunity even though it was only a few short days.

Sure, we had only been back from Honduras for 7 days, but FREE AIRPLANE PEOPLE.

I wasn't going to let a little thing like "responsibilities" get in the way of a free ride.

Literally a hop, skip, and a jump (okay, more like a 4 hour flight….but STILL….so easy) and we were climbing off the plane at the Marsh Harbour airport.

n135tw.jpg

n135tw2.jpg

Having our own boat on Marsh Harbour has made arrivals a little easier. I love grabbing a taxi and having it take us to our own boat rather than the ferry dock. This beats trying to coordinate my arrival with the Albury Ferry. Not that I don’t love the Albury Ferry, but not having to adhere to a particular arrival time is so liberating.

Instead of arriving to get to a ferry, wait for a ferry, and take a ferry to Scotland Cay for a stop before proceeding on to Guana Cay, we found ourselves tossing our luggage onto our boat and making a B-line for Lubbers Landing. There was plenty of time to get to Guana and unpack later. Right now, it was time for saltwater margaritas.

Although, if I am completely honest, this really set off my OCD alarm. I am a “get there, unpack, get organized before you do anything fun” kind of gal. Running off to have fun first was like eating dessert before dinner.

Although, with proper therapy, I think I can get used to it.

26618585326_34b247fb0d.jpg

How can anyone possibly need this much luggage? We looked like we were moving to Cambodia for a year, not spending a weekend in Abaco. It’s amazing what not having to go through TSA or pay for baggage does to one’s packing.

“Do I need an unabridged copy of War and Peace? Maybe. Let’s throw it in. What about that box of live pigeons? Those might come in handy. I may need this ball gown. Better to be safe than sorry.”

Once we had our 19 bags stowed, we were on our way.

OCD alarm be damned. It was liberating to have the breeze blowing in my hair while holding a hastily made boat drink in my hand within minutes of landing.

26579559811_97c89ace62.jpg

26039300254_bedf7ae903.jpg

26618550926_91326c4043.jpg

26041347043_bd9c336c40.jpg

It was Friday and our destination was Pizza Night at Lubbers Landing.

26039264794_6d7de30177.jpg

26551662162_d4e24b61c4.jpg

26371742860_dc759c8ea1.jpg

26618511466_c720286459.jpg

We had put in our required order the day before, because nothing is worse than showing up on Pizza Night without being expected only to discover that you have to let Austin know the day before so he can make the dough.

no_pizza.jpg

The pizza oven was already fired up and getting ready for the night’s festivities when we arrived. We ordered drinks and sank into the cushy sofa, letting the peace of Lubbers Landing sink into our bones. Austin and Amy have created an oasis of happy at Lubbers Landing and we have found no better way to kick-start our vacations in Abaco than with a cold drink at their breezy bar.

26645118525_8a524fe674.jpg

26579436431_9d726b1376.jpg

26729587625_7904abfa7b.jpg

26663509771_6a735469ab.jpg

26123370584_7e1cd2a096.jpg

26645086155_24a8f1e3f9.jpg

26703655306_50326721f2.jpg

26703685696_52baa8d199.jpg

Sometimes, you need a lot of margaritas.

26125981623_4417a5d762.jpg

26636412892_dd48064543.jpg

26703619166_4523ee7601.jpg

26618458726_e2ef36bfdc.jpg

26579396541_25576d2495.jpg

Before long, Austin was tossing our dough in the air with more skill than a Harlem Globetrotter handles a basketball. When he asked us what we wanted on our pizza, we wisely deferred to his expert judgment and found ourselves faced with an Austin Special: savory salami and pepperoni, red onions, rosemary, banana peppers, and just a hint of Lubber’s magic.

26729760615_fb290849f3.jpg

26123409994_f91be37143.jpg

26729746565_c04f1d4f2a.jpg

26123450504_eab5219314.jpg

The pizza was so good that I found myself throwing up a “Mamma Mia” to the pepperoni gods and finding myself wanting to lead everyone in a rousing chorus of “That’s Amore.”

We made it to Guana Cay just as the sun was setting.

26457181360_16a6504502.jpg

26729796715_9deb4fdd26.jpg

I couldn’t wait to get to Bikini Hut. (That’s not just the OCD talking)

I’m still adjusting to the difference in arriving to your own house vs. arriving to a vacation rental. Bikini Hut is my haven and I am so happy every time I walk inside. It is my perfect cozy nest and I couldn’t wait to settle in.

26039136074_e40f116723.jpg

It was the same feeling I get when I have been away from home for a while and I return and the smell and feel of “my home” hits me square in the face. Bikini Hut changed everything.

I was able to get us unpacked before the heart palpitations started and marveled at how wonderful it was to drift off to sleep in my own bed.

26663699551_33c4614663.jpg

26703838686_871dc56880.jpg

26636531972_eb837fc408.jpg

26729829785_18727b772b.jpg

26126085823_138477fa86.jpg

SATURDAY

We had agreed to get the boat out for this trip so that meant this trip was more about fun and less about work.

I started my morning off with a walk on the beach. We had left the dogs at home due to the “last minuteness” of the trip, and I had to admit that walking on the beach is simply not the same experience without those two bumbling furballs running into my ankles, digging stupid holes and getting sand up their noses, and running enthusiastically ahead of me, turning around every few seconds to make sure I was still coming.

Yeah, I missed them.

26126120433_764b241f43.jpg

After my beach walk, I took a walk around the neighborhood. This meant I walked across the street and checked out the Island Flavors menu board, strolled out onto one of the many docks across the street to peek at the water, and nodded “good morning” to Milo at his fruit stand. The neighborhood walk took about 30 seconds.

26703875186_916d5f60fa.jpg

26618423356_a33b55926c.jpg

26618409846_31dd3255cb.jpg

26371598070_d949d58ef4.jpg

26041160123_7ecc44f701.jpg

26371579620_50841a2fbf.jpg

26371572010_2a213bcdbe.jpg

26041126233_d9b811294e.jpg

I headed back to Bikini Hut.

Apparently, Bikini Hut was an actual bikini store at some point in its 100-year history and the house came with this old sign buried inside. We assumed it was probably the sign for the original bikini store and decided to keep it. Matt thought it would be cute to hang it up outside on the cistern building.

26644952255_c06bb6cd49.jpg

At the time, we did not realize this would have unintended consequences.

I was milling around the kitchen when a stranger walked through the front door and into the house.

It is important to note here that I am socially awkward. There is something about interacting with others that makes me feel itchy and hot and leaves me struggling for meaningful conversation while simultaneously scanning the room for the nearest exit. I have accepted this about myself after years of awkward mingling and tripping over nothing on sidewalks.

This moment would have been a difficult encounter for me if I had actually invited this woman to my house and knew who she was. Having a stranger in my house and having no idea why she was there was pushing me to my limits of mental stability. My hands instantly became clammy as I tried to figure out what to say.

However, she was a lovely lady, nicely dressed and very polite, so I wasn’t alarmed in a “fear of danger” way. Instead, my “social alarm” was pinging, thinking that I had invited someone over and had not only forgotten the invitation, but had forgotten who they were.

When she saw me she said, “Good morning. I just wanted to see the place.”

It is important to note here that I have corresponded with a number of people I have never actually met through the Abaco Forum and through this blog, so I simply assumed this was someone that had told me they’d love to stop by and see the changes to the house sometime and I had encouraged them to do so.

Despite my proclivity for social evasion, I am a Southern Woman. This creates an internal struggle when interacting with others. My “tell them to go away” battles with my “invite them in and give them a casserole.” We tell people to “Come on by anytime.” It’s what we are raised to do whether we mean it or not.

That is why I looked at this stranger standing in my house and said, “Feel free to look around.”

Which made things really weird.

It started to get strange when she started looking around more intently than I would expect, like she was looking for something.

The clammy hands were joined by a tight feeling in my chest. Something was off. I was trying to think of something reasonably appropriate to say. Obviously, shouting, “Who sent you??? What do you want with me???? Are they watching??” would make me look mentally unstable, so I just said nothing.

“Is this everything you have or is there more in the back?” she asked.

I wasn’t sure how to respond. Obviously, she was not as enthralled with my remodeling efforts as I was and felt I should have more things decorating the place.

Still thinking she must be here to see the Bikini Hut remodel because my mind simply could not come up with an alternative, I said, “Well, the kitchen and bedroom are back there. Feel free to take a peek.”

This just made things weirder.

She looked puzzled.

I looked puzzled.

She stared at me in silence.

I stared back.

We stood and stared at each other for a moment, both of us knowing something was amiss and trying politely to figure out what the hell was going on when she courteously asked, “Is this all you have for sale or are there swimsuits?”

Life is filled with awkward moments. This wasn’t Steve-Harvey-Crowning-the-Wrong-Miss-Universe-On-Television awkward, and it probably didn’t rank up there with the time one of my friends woke up naked in a stranger’s house only to find out that the man she accompanied there the night before didn’t live there, was gone, and had her clothes, but in my book, it was right up there with being in an elevator with a stranger who audibly farts or trying repeatedly to get in your car in a parking lot only to realize your car is the one 2 rows over.

awkward.jpg

Unfortunately, she was standing in my living room, so I couldn’t just pretend I didn’t notice her or casually run in the opposite direction. I found myself looking around for the hidden cameras, hoping this was just a huge prank.

I thought back to my mom and all those times she said not to let strangers in the house. So THIS was what she was talking about. I should have listened.

It was like being trapped in this recurring dream I have where I walk up to a yard sale and start nonchalantly looking at items only to discover it’s not a yard sale, it’s just a messy yard. Only in this dream, I was the yard sale.

I tried to figure out how to extricate myself from the situation without appearing rude or insane. Obviously, screaming and running out the back door was not an option. I considered crawling under my dining table and pretending it was a fort, because nothing bad ever happens in a fort, but that would not solve the problem because there would still be a stranger in my living room asking me for swimsuits.

I was going to have to deal with this very uncomfortable situation before she started looking through my dresser for some swimwear to take home.

It was then that I thought about the sign.

The Bikini Hut sign.

The one that said, “Swimsuits and More!”

She thought I was a retail store.

This certainly didn’t make the situation any less uncomfortable, because I knew once I responded, she would be embarrassed. Then I would be embarrassed because she was embarrassed. Then we would still be standing there, facing each other in a never ending spiral of embarrassment and misery, with no clear way to end the encounter unless a sinkhole suddenly opened up in the floor and swallowed us both.

I thought about quickly pretending my iPad was a credit card swiper and selling her something from my coffee table, but I knew I was just going to have to embrace the uneasiness of this moment in all its putrid glory because she still had not realized what was going on and was looking to me for clarification of where the retail racks could be found.

I bumbled through an awkward explanation about how this was my house, not a store, and how the sign was an old sign from when the house WAS a store……. after which she apologized, fled, and sprinted down the street.

I probably could have salvaged the encounter if I had normal human social skills instead of communicating like I was raised by a family of cats.

I cursed that sign and went about my morning. I put it out of my head.

26041104083_08eb5bbff9.jpg

It was a calm day without much wind and lots of sunshine, so we decided to take friends who were on island all the way to Pete’s Pub. The added stress of running a retail store on Front Street had made for a long morning, so we were all eager to get there and get our lunch on, so we made straight for Little Harbour.

The day was gorgeous as we “oooooed” and “aaaaahed” our way south.

26644927555_869dd09a35.jpg

26038977534_5e023b9c97.jpg

26038970314_65d0c685fd.jpg

26644880045_568610d6ab.jpg

26551368602_fc337f93c5.jpg

26038964774_23aeda427c.jpg

26644870955_2b3d43b50a.jpg

26618262876_6daf722399.jpg

26551352312_a3033879cc.jpg

26644828115_0060ef3d02.jpg

26579157491_9e0824d604.jpg

26579138431_42d7c4dc01.jpg

The cherry on top of the trip was a double greeting by two spotted eagle rays as we pulled up to the dock.

26371422950_6277da68c6.jpg

26579087951_3d17d001d1.jpg

26038812854_06b659056b.jpg

26618152996_93f81113e0.jpg

26040964393_d98bd70669.jpg

26038787224_f22c2b599d.jpg

I took this as a sign that all of the calamities of the day had passed and the rest of the day would be nothing but sunshine and unicorns.

And drinks.

Which is pretty much the same as sunshine and unicorns. Rum is just dream flavored water, I always say.

26371287310_1646d6f21c.jpg

Pete’s Pub serves some of the best fish in the Abacos. We enjoyed some spectacular fish sandwiches with their always amazing peas & rice and walnut cole slaw before hitting the water to cool off.

26371348460_640f745c53.jpg

26644689215_e30c32bbb1.jpg

26618070036_62711e17df.jpg

26040867103_8652119662.jpg

26551179372_bc8c377886.jpg

26551147562_1d627b3d4d.jpg

26618009086_352ce6eeba.jpg

26371262210_26058e6a4d.jpg

26551087732_7ea511c707.jpg

26644571875_f06cf07436.jpg

26578840341_1145e301d8.jpg

26040753533_63b3c43e4a.jpg

26040724813_59aea30e64.jpg

26617904776_1262b3b792.jpg

I will say, though, I am puzzled by the paper towels at Pete's. Is it a paper towel? Is it a toilet paper roll? Under normal circumstances this would not be an issue, but after a few Blasters, it's creates quite the mental conundrum.

26578874571_39c4f856c1.jpg

As we pulled out of Little Harbour, a pod of dolphins put on a spectacular display for us. This day really was sunshine and rainbows, wasn’t it?

26038579874_6056a51205.jpg

26040695913_54833882eb.jpg

We kept the good times going by stopping at one of the small uninhabited cays for beach drinks. It was a sun-filled, fun-filled afternoon.

26371145210_8f64304a5b.jpg

26617832076_5a5554a625.jpg

26617809596_cac04f007c.jpg

26371110980_901050a6ee.jpg

26037547724_78f7eed8f5.jpg

26616883226_6c68579503.jpg

26643566935_3279e3c8e6.jpg

26616854126_cf3e17a8a3.jpg

26577754201_78701b6672.jpg

26039619113_59d0931359.jpg

26548921812_fda1693eb2.jpg

26548849132_01d0592e00.jpg

26576593141_e34e16998f.jpg

26615639226_f6bbd86971.jpg

26368841520_7ca6fd7faf.jpg

26548815262_4fc5c2f7d5.jpg

And then we got the boat stuck on a sandbar in Tilloo Pond. No worries, the guys pushed us off and the fun continued.

26036153984_529d42080b.jpg

We were on top of the world!

26642190875_2fcbddef34.jpg

26642177795_eb392889dc.jpg

26576440051_dfbdeafcec.jpg

26036090134_da1b9879c1.jpg

And then the boat quick working.

25945030194_5e4c2a0eab.jpg

I have always heard that bad things come in threes. I guess we had our three.

The good news? We were right outside Orchid Bay marina, it wasn’t quite dark yet, and this meant our bad things were over for the trip! Right?

We limped the boat in, tied her off, and went to drown our sorrows with ribs and cheesecake at Sunsetters.

26549995565_d6ed742c1f.jpg

SUNDAY

It was a beautiful morning on Guana Cay.

26483909551_104783c28e.jpg

26277083120_aea999e00d.jpg

26483890451_71374cba92.jpg

26457603482_e72c41768b.jpg

25944944744_d9e87553b6.jpg

26277014160_09e3997bcb.jpg

25946969763_be9331b994.jpg

26276982600_a8bb408467.jpg

26457509272_f28651a54b.jpg

26276954020_a231cd80f7.jpg

People were streaming onto the island for Sunday Funday. Arriving by boat, ferry, or crawling out of their villas, they were pouring down the street. It was going to be a lively day.

Matt went to cry on his boat for a while, so I kicked back at the house.

25944859374_bff97b8469.jpg

I came out of the bathroom to find a strange woman in my den looking at my Tommy Bahama candles.

I wish I was joking.

After I ran her off with a pool noodle I spent the rest of the morning painting over that sign.

With only 2 full days on the island, we had to use part of Sunday Funday as Boat Day. Unfortunately, our fuel pump was out, so our boat was FINISHED.

Thankfully, our friends had their boat, so we piled in and headed for the lagoon.

26457476912_decc0e84c7.jpg

26483746291_447b945ce1.jpg

26483739151_6206333a53.jpg

25944830094_a6976d45e4.jpg

26457447852_2439a914db.jpg

26457431202_65429785cc.jpg

26483715091_ddd145988c.jpg

26457424122_180dcb0d60.jpg

26457401172_94eb8855f3.jpg

26483684101_3395bce44a.jpg

26437243482_bdff5b092e.jpg

25924662444_480fb0bc2a.jpg

26256739960_64dbeea5a4.jpg

26503634186_23af98b14a.jpg

26276875180_7d34931064.jpg

26529544515_1ee895200b.jpg

26529566325_d933ab4b16.jpg

This spot never disappoints and the day was no exception. We pulled out the snacks, mixed up the drinks, and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Aaahhh…….bliss.

It was Sunday Funday at Nippers, however, so we couldn’t spend all day luxuriating in the sunshine in the peace and quiet. It is a condition of vacationing with Vicki that at least a portion of each Sunday be spent at Nippers.

I can’t help but love the colorful atmosphere, the amazing views, and the fun music.

26437171902_6005fc9555.jpg

79E5B8A5FBECB690E78D21DB04CCA318.jpg

Okay, I really love the Nippers. Who am I trying to fool?

26256622060_b3e45a4610.jpg

Unfortunately, my alter ego, Bad Dancer Vicki, seems to come out every time I am at Nippers no matter how honorable my intentions are.

I’m afraid that I am the reason you can’t take your kids to Nippers after 3:00 p.m.

I’m sorry.

Nippers transforms me from this:

Nerd.jpeg

To this:

nippersvicki.jpg

In time honored tradition, we moved the party from Nippers to Grabbers in the late afternoon for some sustenance. Despite the delicious pasta, buffalo wings, and pizza…..apparently, all I wanted were some Doritos.

26529482645_3770752020.jpg

26437143102_a866d4cd85.jpg

26503505626_95655f2fd0.jpg

Sometimes you just really need some Doritos.

26503499326_f7e3677faa.jpg

MONDAY

Like a flash, it was over.

It no longer makes me sad when I leave, though.

I’ll be back before you can say, "Do you have any swimsuits for sale?"

Until next time, Bikini Hut!

25926638273_ef63908d14.jpg

Posted by vicki_h 11:40 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 61) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. » Next