Today we went by ferry to a small island off the coast of Cancun. The Yucatan peninsula juts out into the water with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. We are on the Caribbean side, which is the south side of the peninsula. Therefore, technically the island is a Carribean Island like Cuba or Jamaica, yet we are still in Mexico and just a few kilometres from the mainland. The ferry took 20 minutes to get here.
The name of the island is Isla Mujeres which means Island of Women in English. It is called the Island of Women because when the Spanish first discovered the island in 1517, there were hundreds of statues of women along the beach. The statues were a gift to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility. There is a small Mayan archaeological site on the island and women continued to come here in modern times to seek assistance from Ixchel. The site was mostly destroyed by a hurricane in 1988.
The little town on Isla Mujeres (called Isla Mujeres Town) is tranquil and quiet compared to the busy city of Cancun. There are cars here but most people get around with small motorcycles, scooters, or golf carts. The streets are very narrow except for the main one along the coast where the ferry docks. We sat for a while and watched the people go by.
It was getting hot so we retired to our hotel until it cools down a bit. We are staying at Hotel Osario which has been owned and operated by the Osario family for about 35 years. It is a bare-bones hotel with no phone, no television, nothing. It does have a ceiling fan and seven windows with shutters and screens that take up two walls of the room. It is very austere but it is clean and cheap at only 250 pesos ($21) per night.
On the ferry ride we saw some Magnificent Frigatebirds flying overhead. These large birds live at sea and fly for months without landing. In fact, if they landed on the sea or land, they would not be able to get airborne again. The only time they land is in a tree for nesting. To get airborne again, they simply jump out of the tree and start flapping their huge winds and hopefully will start to fly before they hit the ground. Frigatebirds are thieves. The get their food by stealing it from gulls and other seabirds. They watch for a bird that has caught a fish and they attack the bird and hassle it until it drops its catch. The Frigatebird then swoops down and catches the fish before it hits the water.
When we got off the ferry, a guy with a modified bicycle took our luggage to the hotel and we walked along behind. From our hotel balcony, we can see the sea on both sides of the island as the whole place is only about four blocks from one side to the other. Although the hotel in Cancun was nicer, we like it here better, with fresh air and a view of the sea, rather than being in the midst of a big city. We choose to be on the top floor, although that meant lugging our suitcases up three flights of stairs but it is nicer up here with a good view and a breeze through the room.