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A Double Dose of Vitamin Sea

We had a mid-April trip to Guana Cay planned when a last minute opportunity to fly down for free came up at the end of March.

There is no such thing as an overdose of Vitamin Sea.

It was the end of March when we zipped down with good friends and seasoned veterans of Abaco for a fun-filled weekend. We arrived early and were greeted with brilliant blue skies and an abundance of sunshine.

Keeping the boat at Treasure Cay has changed our “arrival routine” from a Bahama Mama and conch fritters at Curly Tails to a lunch trip to Treasure Sands before making our way to Guana Cay. Treasure Sands is beautiful and has amazing food, but it’s not the most convenient place to boat to from Guana, the passage demanding calm seas and as little wind as possible to be entirely comfortable. Because our boat is already there, it just makes sense to enjoy it before we leave.

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So we launched right in with drinks by the pool and a delicious seaside lunch.

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We arrived on Guana too late for a grocery run and headed to Grabbers for sunset cocktails instead. Who needs fresh water and milk when you have a lethal frozen concoction of rum waiting for you?

I should point out that one too many frozen concoctions of rum often leads to a “golf cart incident.” In this case, Matt turned left and my body went right.

I think falling off your golf cart is a rite of passage on Guana Cay.

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The next morning we grabbed the necessary provisions at Guana Grocery and discussed our plans for the day. It was going to be windy every day, so we couldn’t venture very far. Friends who were also on island were boating over to Firefly and we agreed to meet up for lunch.

That would have been fine if the boat had started.

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While the guys puzzled over the problem, the girls headed to Grabbers for sunshine and frozen mango daiquiris. Before we could do as much as dip a toe in the water, the guys told us to “Come on!”

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After puzzling, deliberating, changing the battery, and finally giving up and calling Troy, we discovered that someone had inadvertently hit the battery kill switch.

Note to self: Check kill switch before calling Troy.

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Humbled and late, we headed to Elbow Cay. We made it in time to meet our friends for a fabulous waterfront lunch with the best frozen drinks in Abaco.

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It was getting late and it was pretty windy, so we cut our losses and headed back to Guana for a peaceful sunset.

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It was Friday night and Kidds Cove was serving up their Friday night grill. They day wrapped up with butter and garlic drenched lobster and crispy conch fritters.

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Saturday morning was beautiful….but still windy. I made breakfast from my score of fresh baked Johnny Cakes that I found at the grocery the day before, and we tried to decide whether to even get the boat out.

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But first....$5 bloody Marys from Sir Eden at the Orchid Bay Farmer's Market!

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Ultimately, the sunshine won out and we decided on a conservative plan: a quick trip to Man-O-War for lunch at the Dock & Dine and a stop in at the lagoon, where the winds are always calm.

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One of the things I love about Guana Cay, especially since buying a home there, is that it’s more like home than a vacation and the people who live there and visit regularly have become friends and family rather than strangers. As such, we had somehow amassed a group of 14 for dinner that night and I only had a reservation for 6.

Mermaids was quick to accommodate the change and immediately had a table set up for our entire group. The service, the food, and the drinks were top notch as always!

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After dinner, we hopped over to Grabbers for some Karaoke with Gabby and a little bit of (very bad) late night dancing.

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It was Sunday Funday, but the water was the calmest it had been all weekend, so we decided to forgo Nippers and head north to No Name Cay. I had seen that there were some piglets on the island and wanted to get my baby pig fix.

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Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I am not short of opinions and, from time to time, I have to climb up on my soapbox. So ….get ready.

I realize these are PIGS. However, they are not pets. They are not very keen on being touched, chased, or handled. I was dismayed by how many people I saw flat out running after them, chasing them, as they ran away squealing and terrified. I saw parents letting their kids throw things at them and grab at them, as they tried to hide under things to get away. I saw people throw food on the sand rather than in the nice, clean wooden trough that is provided, causing the pigs (who will eat ANYTHING PEOPLE) to gobble up the food….sand and all. All I am trying to say is that a little human decency goes a long way. These are animals. They are hungry, thirsty, and slightly apprehensive of all the human attention. Enjoy them from a distance, take a picture rather than grabbing a piglet by the tail, put food in the trough rather than throwing it in the sand, don’t chase them if they are afraid – let them come to you if they choose, give them some water. Be decent. That’s all.

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Once we had our piglet fix, we headed to Green Turtle. We had always pulled into New Plymouth on previous visits, but decided to pull into the dock at Coco Beach and make the short walk to the Green Turtle Club.

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It was a great way to wrap up a short trip.

Beautiful beach, wonderful food, strong drinks.

Great friends.

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BUT WAIT….THERE’S MORE….

Because Matt and I headed back down with newbies less than 2 weeks later!

Online friends Mark and Kristen became real friends back in October when we met in the flesh in Maryland. Somehow, we didn’t scare them off and they actually agreed to come to Abaco for a first visit.

Despite many trips to Exuma, they had not yet taken the plunge and visited Abaco so we offered to take them with us and show them around. It was a way for them to dip their toes in the water without making too much of a commitment.

It felt like “déjà vu all over again” as we lay in a near comatose state, sun drunk on the beach loungers at Treasure Cay.

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Champagne was followed by cocktails. Cocktails were followed by lunch. Lunch was followed by the beach.

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And…much like two weekends prior….that was followed by sunset at Grabbers and dinner, except that this time, I managed to stay in the golf cart.

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The next morning, we discovered that the winds were still up. That meant we couldn’t go very far comfortably.

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We settled on a trip to Elbow Cay (dang, this feels familiar). Our first stop was the beach at Man-O-War where we looked for starfish and shells, lounged in the sunshine, and enjoyed strawberry mimosas and bloody Marys.

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Next stop was Firefly for a decadent lunch and a revisit of those glorious frozen cocktails.

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Then it was on to Tahiti Beach for the sandbar party and boat drinks (or, more appropriately...lounging in the water drinks).

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Last stop was Hopetown for a quick shopping trip and a cocktail at Hopetown Harbour Lodge.

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That night, Mermaids helped me surprise Kristen who had celebrated her birthday just before the trip with a mermaid themed birthday dinner. Mermaids is TOPS!!

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Sunday Funday dawned bold and beautiful.

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We felt like Mark and Kristen needed the Nippers experience for their first visit, but we didn’t want to waste a gorgeous boat day, so we made a quick trip to the lagoon.

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We sipped strawberry daiquiris and snuggled some warm beach dogs while we watched the water turn every shade of blue around us.

Then it was back to Guana for lunch at Grabbers. I love their tuna poke and wings! Yeah okay, I also love the Grabbers!

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It wasn’t a super crazy Sunday at Nippers, but that’s good. That might have been a bit much for a first timer.

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It was just busy enough to enjoy some drinks, do some pool dancing, make some new friends, and hang out on the beach.

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For dinner, we cleaned up and headed to Orchid Bay for pizza (my favorite Sunday Funday dinner!).

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Our last day proved to be another windy one, so we didn’t want to venture very far. While I really wanted to show them Green Turtle, No Name, Munjack, or Pete’s…we settled for Man-O-War.

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We enjoyed some seriously good cracked lobster burgers at the Dock & Dine.

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Then we wandered down to the Sail Shop, Joe’s Studio, and my favorite….Sally’s Seaside Boutique where I can always find something adorable made from her traditional Bahamian fabrics.

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Craving just a little more beach time, we stopped at my favorite little beach for some sunshine and afternoon cocktails.

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Don’t worry….this little guy is in the water….it’s just that clear!

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Too soon, our last day was over so we drowned our sorrows with frozen Grabbers, a final sunset, and a quiet dinner at Nippers.

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But don’t feel too sorry for me just yet. Coming on the heels of back to back trips to Guana is an anniversary trip to Anna Maria Island! Stay tuned friends!

Posted by vicki_h 11:38 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (3)

Ringing in 2018..... Guana-Cay Style

YOU CAN’T RAIN ON MY PARADE.

The flight to Abaco had been uneventful. It was the day after Christmas and Matt and I were en route to Bikini Hut to ring in the New Year.

Flying into Abaco is interesting. There is no flight control. There is no tower. Each pilot simply communicates on the radio with every other pilot to decide who is where and who is landing when. It doesn’t matter if you are a single engine Cessna Skyhawk or a commercial jet – it’s an act of cooperation and it amazes me every time to hear tiny 4 seater private planes coordinating with turboprops and jets to see where everyone is and what order they are landing in.

“This is Cessna 41-Mike,” we heard over the radio. “Has anyone made it into Treasure Cay in the last 15?”

It was raining, you see.

The flight was uneventful until this moment. Now…we were nearing the Treasure Cay airport in a downpour and many planes were having a hard time landing due to low visibility. The commercial planes had to turn back because there is no ILS approach and they required a higher altitude for visibility to land.

Just as we were considering turning back to wait it out at a drier airport, someone responded. “Baron 32-Alpha just landed. Clear of active runway.”

That said, we knew we could make it.

Landing in the rain is not my favorite, because it means unloading in the rain, getting a taxi in the rain, and probably getting on the boat in the rain, but what other choice was there?

We landed in the rain. We unloaded in the rain. We got into a taxi in the rain.

It was still raining when we reached the Treasure Cay Marina, where our boat was waiting. Rather than load the boat in the rain, we decided to wait it out with rum punches and fish burgers tucked inside the Tipsy Seagull where it was nice and dry and where our furry children were welcome.

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A few rum punches later, the rain dissipated and we loaded the boat to make our way to Bikini Hut on Guana Cay!

We were almost there.

Sure, we arrived later than expected, but we had plenty of time to unpack, get what few groceries we needed from the on island store, and get to Grabbers for sunset, that first frozen grabber of the trip, lobster bites, and mac n’cheese.

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It felt like a Welcome Home to me.

IT’S NOT WEDNESDAY, IT’S SUN DAY.

Sure, it was mid-week but the sun was shining and the day started off bright and HOT. This was fine with me because December in Abaco can bring anything from 50 degrees to 80. A high near 80 with endless sun was a perfect first day.

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We had nothing planned. A whole lot of nothing.

The morning started with a walk on the beach with my favorite girls. Bella and Rooby were happy to be back.

Rooby loves watching the sun come up.

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Our December trips are more about “to dos” than leisure, and Matt had a list of things he wanted to accomplish during our week at the Hut. I didn’t have much to do, so I opted for a lazy day at Grabbers. I knew it wasn’t going to be this warm all week and I wanted to take advantage of it while I could.

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I grabbed one of these….

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And stared at this….

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Until I was so sun drunk I could do nothing more than roll over every once in a while to ensure I burned evenly.

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Eventually, the lure of the sun was more than Matt could take and he joined me for lobster caprese sandwiches and fish tacos.

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And then a little more of this….

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We have become friends with several other homeowners on the island and everyone had finally arrived, so we agreed to meet up at one of the houses for dinner. We grabbed a sunset, a Grabber, and headed out to finish the day with our island family.

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IT’S A PINK NIGHTMARE.

It was another beautiful morning on Guana Cay.

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Matt had plans to do something fun like pour a cement ramp to the laundry room or rebuild the shutters, so I grabbed my beach bag and ran out of the house faster than you can shake a paintbrush.

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I had no intention of spending a beautiful day painting trim, so I parked myself on a lounge chair at Nippers, ordered a spicy bloody Mary, and watched the clouds go by.

Matt joined me for lunch and we agreed to share a healthy lunch and a fried pile of delicious crap so that neither of us felt too guilty. The seared ahi tuna salad was amazing….but so was the cracked lobster with fries.

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To avoid being labeled a total slacker….I spent the afternoon painting shutters.

Mainly because I had to soften Matt up.

You see, it was the night of the annual Guana Cay Christmas Golf Cart Parade.

We discovered last year that the golf cart parade is the most fun that can be had at 3 mph. Everyone dresses up in tacky Christmas attire and meets at the Lumberyard. From there, about 50 decorated golf carts roll through town, making stops at each of the 3 main restaurants on Guana where food is served and drinks are bought….ending the night at Nippers for a tacky Christmas dance party.

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“I look like a deranged Easter Bunny,” Matt said.

“You look AMAZING!” I lied. (actually....he DID look amazing....)

Matt’s favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story, but I still couldn’t believe he had agreed to my costume idea. He did, however, require a small dose of liquid courage.

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We met up with our island family first so that we could all head to the Lumberyard together to ensure we were lined up in succession during the parade.

I love these people.

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We made our way to the Lumberyard and waited for the parade to start.

Now….Matt might have been wearing the world’s largest pink onesie, but I was wearing HIGH HEELS. I never wear heels on Guana. High heels and Guana Cay go together like Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna.

And much like Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna, mixing the two leads to a greater than average chance of violence, bodily harm, ripped fishnets, and tears.

I proved this point when I got clever and decided to hold one leg up under my lampshade, you know, so I looked more like the one-legged lamp from the movie?

Rather than looking like a MAJOR AWARD…I got my heel caught in my hoop and immediately took a hard dive to the gravel.

This broke my fall:

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At that moment, I would have given anything to have been wearing a pink fleece onesie.

Instead, I brushed it off and screamed, “And she’s up!” I guess I am not so FRUH-GEE-LAY after all.

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FRI-YAY!

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The next morning, Matt had to make the Bunny Walk of Shame.

He had gotten our golf cart stuck at Nippers the night before, you see. Late nights, drinks, bunny suits, and golf cart parking do not mix.

With the golf cart secured back at the Hut, we decided it was a nice day to get the boat out. It was sunny, but the wind was acting up a bit, so we decided not to go far.

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Our plan was to simply hop over to Man-O-War and grab lunch and pick up a couple of new bags from the sail shop to add to our ever growing collection.

We stopped in at the Dock-N-Dine where we enjoyed the beautiful views and ran into more Guana friends.

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I like any restaurant in Abaco that veers from the traditional menu of: 1) Cheeseburger, 2) Fishburger, 3) Cracked Conch…all served with fries, peas n’rice, or mac n’cheese.

For starters, we enjoyed the black bean and lump crab cakes topped with goat pepper salsa and served with citrus yogurt. For lunch, I had the triple seafood pita club: a warm pita filled with fried lobster, shrimp and crab along with crispy lettuce, tomato, and bacon. Matt dove into the amazing Tommy Burger which is topped with crispy onions, spicy apple jam, white cheddar, and a rosemary BBQ sauce.

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We meandered through the sunny streets of Man-O-War until we reached Albury’s sail shop. This is a must stop on most trips to Abaco. We love their canvas bags and simply can’t get enough of them.

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In order to get Matt to knock off half a day and play on the boat, I had agreed to spend the afternoon working on the shutters.

That night, one of our island friends hosted dinner for the group and we all gathered for the end of another beautiful island day.

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MEET ME AT TAHITI

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After our morning walk on the beach with the girls, I convinced Matt to take a full boat day. We’d been working all week (in between having a little fun) and it was a beautiful day to be on the water. The sun was shining, the water was calm, the wind was down….it was a perfect day.

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We made our way to Elbow Cay and anchored at Tahiti Beach to watch the sand bar arrive.

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What we didn’t expect was an actual SAND BAR.

This floating bar showed up just as we were leaving, so I didn’t get a chance to try it. That just means something new for next time!

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I had my heart set on Lunch at Firefly. Without a reservation, you better get there early or you won’t be eating. We pulled in right at noon and scored an amazing waterfront table. By the time we left, they were literally turning people away telling them the list was too full to add anyone else for lunch.

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Firefly has the best cocktails and food around, so a meal there is always something to savor.

I started off with a smoky mezcal old fashioned, which was a nice change from the sweet tropical drinks I had been sucking down for the last few days.

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The lobster quesadilla with mango pineapple salsa was calling our name. Drizzled with chipotle sour cream, it was the perfect way to start lunch.

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Matt had the panko crusted fish cakes (which looked more like balls….just sayin’) served with mesclun greens and fruit salsa.

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I had what was quite possibly the best salad of my life: the naked cobb salad with coconut panko crusted lobster. Yes, I realize the bacon, blue cheese and deep fried lobster destroyed any chance that salad had of being healthy, but it was so delicious I did not care.

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After lunch, we hopped over to Hopetown Harbour where we walked around for a bit before relaxing with a drink at the Reef Bar at Hopetown Harbour Lodge. I never get tired of these views.

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With the shorter winter days, it was time to head back so we could make it in before dark.

We wrapped up the day with a blazing sunset at Grabbers and a pizza at Orchid Bay.

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THE PERFECT STORM.

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It was Sunday Funday at Nippers. It was New Year’s Eve. And it was the day the famed Bucketlust yacht group and their Bravo film crew had decided to descend upon our tiny little island.

It was the perfect storm.

We headed to Nippers early so that we could enjoy the beach bar before the crowds arrived. I admit that I am one of the instigators when I am with a group, but when it’s just me and Matt, we keep things low key. We were just there to be spectators today.

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The calm before the storm….

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The place was empty and beautiful, just the way I like it. We had some frozen Nippers, dipped in the pool, lay in the abundant sunshine, and shared a cheeseburger.

When things went from this:

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To this:

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We knew it was time to call it a day.

We did what old people do on New Year’s Eve….we went home and took a nap. How else am I supposed to stay awake until midnight??

Then it was time for NYE dinner.

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I tried to dress fancy for the occasion, but it had turned cooler, and within minutes, I decided to ditch the dress for jeans and a long sleeve shirt.
In case needing a nap in order to stay out late isn’t a sure sign you are old, another one is trading in a cute, sequin mini dress on NYE for jeans because it’s more comfortable.

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Normally, we spend NYE at Nippers, but we simply couldn’t resist the lure of being eyewitnesses to the debauchery promised by the Bucketlust NYE party at Grabbers.

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From what we gathered, Bucketlust is an international group that puts together outrageous party vacations for young schmucks who like to spend a week wearing inappropriate costumes, throwing garbage into the ocean, consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and dancing while partying aboard a flotilla of 25+ catamarans as they sail through some poor, unsuspecting island chain.

It was our lucky day. This ghastly group of people had chosen the Abacos as their NYE destination and had chosen Guana Cay as their first stop to host their extreme NYE party.

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In a very short period of time, our sweet little Grabbers was transformed into a den of debauchery, loaded with 300+ partygoers dressed in their best porn versions of your favorite Disney characters. They proceeded to litter the beach and ocean, tear up the hammocks, throw crap into the pool, and drink until they vomited or took their clothes off in front of strangers – which ever came first.

It was quite a show.

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One of the Bucketlust staffers actually approached us before midnight and advised that we leave just after midnight because ….”It will really get bad after that.”

At midnight, we left. We’d had enough. If what I saw was only the beginning….I didn’t need to see any more.

Sign 3 that I am getting old? Sure. After watching those young people, I wear my age with pride.

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ABOUT LAST NIGHT...

On our way to walk the dogs, Matt and I stopped at Grabbers because I wanted to get a look at the boats in the harbor (they had arrived after dark, so it was our first chance to see this massive group of boats).

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What I didn’t expect was the amount of devastation they left in their wake. Plastic cups, Styrofoam plates, straws, flip flops, and the remnants of costumes littered the beach, hung from the trees, and worst of all….floated all in the harbor. You could still hear the electronic dance music eurothumping from their boats AT 6:00 a.m.

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(Sign 4 you are old – you are up at 6:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day)

I’m sure the homes nearby loved listening to their music all night and into the morning. I’m sure Grabbers staff loved trying to get their dirty underwear out of the palm trees. And I’m sure the sea creatures loved swallowing their plastic straws and dodging their plastic cups in the ocean.

I sincerely hope Bucketlust was a “one and done” as far as the Abacos are concerned. The Abacos are family islands. I love a good party as much as the next girl, but these people were not respectful of this island, it’s people, or the environment. I say take your garbage and bare butts to Ibiza or Mykonos. Go to Cancun for God’s sake, but don’t bring it back here.

(Sign 5 you are old – you give a lecture to young partygoers for partying too hard on NYE)

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I will now climb off my soapbox and tell you about how we spent our last day on the island taking the girls on a boat ride to the lagoon.

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We drank strawberry daiquiris and ate chips and wasted the day away.

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We ended the day with a quiet dinner at Nippers – seafood fettuccine for Matt and grilled lobster for me.

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ARRIVE IN THE RAIN. LEAVE IN THE RAIN.

We had amazing weather while we were down, but we had arrived in the rain and I’ll be darned if it wasn’t pouring when we woke up to leave.

I have to brag on Matt here. The man is a saint.

We had to take the boat back to Treasure Cay. This meant loading the boat in the rain, driving the boat to Treasure Cay (an hour) in the rain, unloading the boat in the rain, loading the taxi in the rain, unloading the taxi in the rain, and loading the plane in the rain. He put me and the dogs in the dry and did all of this by himself so we wouldn’t both be wet.

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He’s a good man.

We arrived home to unreasonably cold temperatures, but with the warmth of our island home still in our hearts.

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Next up – we couldn’t handle the cold, so we ran off to Key West! Stay tuned!

Posted by vicki_h 13:25 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands caribbean tropical bahamas abacos abaco guana_cay Comments (5)

Better Late Than Never - July on Guana Cay

Obviously, I am a little behind on the travel blog. We did a lot of travelling over the summer, but life got in the way and the photos have stayed buried in my camera and the stories have stayed buried in my memory. It’s time to get them out of there!

As we have done for many years, we made a trip to Guana Cay in Abaco for the week of July 4th. What can I tell you about Abaco that I haven’t already? How many more photos of deliciously clear water can I show?

Besides, it’s been almost 3 months. I have no idea what we did.

Rather than a play-by-play that will leave you knowing every meal I ate and what time I brushed my teeth each morning, I’m simply going to share my favorite stories from this trip.

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Doom, Despair, and Agony on Me….the Cheeseburger in Paradise Party

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We arrived at the airport early Friday morning, with every intention of getting to the boat and making the hour-plus boat ride to Fiddle Cay in time for the 2017 cheeseburger party. This was an optimistic goal, and one that, in hindsight, we should have crossed off our list.

First, let me make it clear that this IS NOT the same party that we have attended in years past…AND LOVED.

THAT party was the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party, hosted by Bob and Pat Henderson. We enjoyed it immensely every year that we attended.

Bob and Pat had to take a hiatus from the Cheeseburger Party due to several difficult family events and, without their blessing, another group started the “Cheeseburger in Paradise Party” on the same date and on the same deserted cay. Our gut instinct was to avoid the new party and find something else to do, but we were travelling with friends and they really wanted to go.

We should have stuck with our gut. I found the event less awe-inspiring than in years past.

We managed to arrive around 1:00 p.m. and found a very different atmosphere than we were used to. It was apparent that large crowds from Nassau and other non-Abaco places were present and they definitely changed the feel of the event.

Too many jet-skis with careless drivers zoomed recklessly between carefully anchored boats, causing them to rock and crash into each other as the repeated wake hit. A hover boat kept zipping past people trying to relax in the shallow water. Small boats that barely looked seaworthy floated in, loaded with about 5 times the number of bodies that could safely be aboard. Too many deafening speaker systems, thongs stretched far past their maximum usefulness, and guys with grabby hands.

Ick.

Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day and we were in a beautiful spot – might as well enjoy what we could.

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We entertained ourselves by dragging out the Inflata-Bull and dragging it around. It wasn’t until about halfway through the day that I realized exactly why Matt wanted to be in charge of the Inflata-Bull.

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I’m a little slow.

The day was going fine until I realized the pool float my camera (yes….THE camera) was being pulled around on was getting splashed excessively and that my camera was sitting in an inch of water.

This is the last photo that camera ever took.

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It would be vacation by iPhone at this point.

So far, I had made the bad decision to even come to the Cheeseburger Party and the bad decision to think a float in the ocean was a safe place for a $4,500 camera. I decided to make it 3 for 3 and agreed to sleep on the boat that night, despite how it went the last time.

I thought we had remedied all the issues we encountered the last time we tried to sleep aboard:

• We now had a power cord long enough to reach the dock which gave us a/c and allowed us to use the bathroom;
• We had the center cushion that actually allowed the seating and table in the cabin to be turned into a bed; and
• I was not dying of the Bubonic Plague.

Apparently, I had been misinformed.

While we had a power cord, the a/c on the boat didn’t actually WORK. Likewise, Matt proceeded to inform me that something was wrong with the flushing on the toilet so I couldn’t use that either.

This would have been fine had the dock we chose for the night ACTUALLY HAD A BATHROOM. Quite the opposite…it was located in the middle of nowhere and had no facilities of any kind. It was more “dock with electricity” than marina.

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I went to bed and hoped for the best.

Much like my “hope for the best” with the Cheeseburger Party, the best was not meant to be.

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and HAD TO GO.

It was not #1.

We were on a remote stretch of Green Turtle Cay, so I made the decision to try to walk into “town” and see if there was any sort of park building or other public facility where I might find a bathroom.

The walk was excruciatingly long and dark. Like dark dark.

I walked around town and exhausted every possibility.

There was no bathroom.

I was sweaty and desperate.

I walked back to the remote dock and did the only thing I could do. …I had to hang my happy a$$ of a dock ladder and go in the ocean.

It was horrific and humiliating.

I feel very sorry for the turtles and fish.

At least it was dark dark.

Social Media vs. Reality: My true confession

I am sharing this photo to illustrate the difference in the version of our life we wish to portray through social media and the reality of our life.

The moment I was trying to portray…a peaceful, solitary morning on the beach.

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The actual moment…I sit and stare at the ocean unaware that my dog has chosen that exact moment to take a crap behind me.

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The hard truth: My life is less about peaceful moments on the beach and more about picking up crap.

I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.

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How do you know if someone REALLY loves you? I mean really, really, really loves you?

They’ll pee on you if you ask them to.

Unfortunately, after getting a jellyfish wrapped around my upper thigh on Treasure Sands’ beach and enduring Matt’s hot urine on my leg, I discovered that whole “jellyfish and pee thing” is a myth.

Now my leg hurt and I was covered in pee.

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Don’t worry, I was able to effectively drown my sorrows with pink drinks.

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Meanwhile, back at Nippers…..

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It was a great summer week, filled with all of the best things….good friends, my sweet dogs, lots of boat drinks, endless sunshine, and all the fried things.

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Until next time Abaco!!

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Posted by vicki_h 12:05 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (1)

Losing Time on Isla Holbox: Part III

Day Five

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

We waddled back to our beach and collapsed.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It was officially time to call it a night.

Day Six

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It was my favorite time of day: breakfast.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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But everything about our dinner seemed perfect.

It was the perfect way to end this trip.

Day Seven

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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.

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We had time to take one last look around.

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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. 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Day Four

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Yep. Flamingos.

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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.

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Happy Birthday Matt?

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

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

Our meal started with cocktails at the bar.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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