Late Tuesday night (Nov 26) we left the cold damp weather of NY for the sunny Isla we had heard so much about. We arrived in Cancun on time but with a bit of a wait for luggage and our transportation arranged by PA we were just a little bit late for the ferry to Isla. Sadly we - our family of four including my husband, and two daughters age 15 and age 12, collapsed on our bags at the ferry dock in a style clearly reminiscent of of my backpacking days in Australia. We were a mound on the ground and so very tired. We wondered if we had brought only carry ons if we could had made it. Bleery eyed we arrived at PA. It was not an arrival vacations are made of. My husband was not so happy to have a wristband put on his arm. We headed off to our room in Building 4 to a Presidential Suite with me dimly recalling it was not a good building to be in - or was it that it was a good building to be in?
Each space was a completely different temp from freezing in one bedroom to sweltering in another. I tried to fix it as the temp controls are straightforward but ours would not change. The next day took a couple of visits from maintenance and a disappearing act by a maintenance man into the ceiling of the bathroom to fix.
Morning came and as lovebirds has noted in their trip report the winds were howling. A late (ish) breakfast was good but already I had plans for an escape another day to one of the fabulous breakfast places I have heard about. We did not do AI so we felt compelled to bolt from the hotel, get a golf cart from around the corner and explore. Note that the golf cart place did not even take my drivers license and seemed fine to negotiate a 24 hour period as opposed to a full day. Our cart worked well with no maintenance issues and plenty of pep. The place to the right of the hotel on the beach had no interest in renting to us oddly enough. Initially they quoted a price and then moved us on to the next guy down the street.
So we were off - we cruised a bit of the downtown and then headed to see the Turtles. We arrived and as a family we had a lot of different reactions. I felt wary from the first tank where a man working there picked up a turtle for a photo op for my daughter. Then he picked up a baby turtle for an even better photo. She was thrilled but I was disturbed and hoped that was it was the end of handling the turtles for amusement. Within a few more minutes there were many more people gathered for this pet and tip moment. I went off by myself and quickly viewed this turtle "sanctuary" My thoughts prob don't gel with a lot of you but I was extremely uncomfortable at the treatment of the turtles on view. Tourists were encouraged to ignore the signs saying not touching and no flash and I wonder how much stress the animals are in. On the other hand I am loathe to admit but do understand that this is prob a facility that does help a great deal with rescuing turtle nests that would be in danger if left where they are naturally deposited. My children were fascinated as well although by the end they were also disturbed by some of the treatment we witnessed of the turtles. Inside the building there was a man continually pulling out turtles, from the swimming area, by one leg and then passing it over for a pet. Stone crabs were also manhandled. Baby turtles, days old (with sign clearly stating DONT TOUCH) were taken from vats which contained hundreds and passed around. Our take home as we massed on the golf cart was an awareness of how bittersweet this place was. I figured I would start asking some questions when I got home to a friend of mine that is the director of Sea Turtle Conservancy (www.conserveturtles.org) about these places. Secondly we decided we would figure if we could help and choose a place to donate to before Christmas. It was with a combination of awe, wonderment, guilt and sadness that we headed on our way.
Up the coast to the top were we found this interesting and clearly extravagant home built for the family that owns Corona. On the way back down we stopped to check out the Dolphin Discovery and while we managed a quick viewing of what was going on were soon shepherded back to the info man for a discussion of prices. I am on that fine line of issues with the damage to the animals that I can't really gage, and being drawn to the thrill of being close to such exquisite creatures that are compelling to even be around. Prices quoted were high and I felt I remembered them being less if done on line or as someone mentioned her in conjunction with Garrafon Park.
Back to the gc and our next stop, deemed by everyone as the best surprise fun of the day, was buying coconuts by the side of the road, drinking them and then having them crack the open and putting lime, and chile on the meat. So good and delicious and just sharing it amongst ourselves was fun.
Off to Garrafon Park where we figured out if the zipline was a big enough draw for our gang to include it in a full day. I was a yes but the rest decided no. We have our own zipline that we built across our pond and also have an incredible zipline/ adventure course near our home so apparently what they saw at Garrafon was not enough to give up something else to do on Isla. I begged to differ. I thought it looked great and if I would have done it but the gang said no.
Next stop was lunch at Captain Dulche's. The setting was beautiful, and it was pretty quiet with only two tables occupied. I was prepared for ok food in a lovely environment. We all were not prepared for the true Isla factor of great food. The lunch was fantastic. We started with guacamole and shrimp and fish ceviche. Ceaser salad with shrimp for my daughter was presented well with fresh Romaine, large croutons, and shrimp cooked perfectly. My other daughter enjoyed the monster coconut shrimp that were served on a pureed potato and a dark sauce that was drizzled on. Delicious. My husband had the Tikin Xic and it took a little longer then the rest. We all decided at that moment that we should not have ordered it and it will be a waste. Well when it arrived it looked so good that the whole family descended like wolves. It did not matter that we were all full - that dish was so tasty and appealing that we just kept eating. As we don't really know if they prepare it like the Playa Lancheros I can't speak to it being authentic but it was clearly a knowledgeable chef that was making this food. The setting was a delight as well. A couple of dogs played with the girls, and we spent a lot of time hanging out with the three macaws that live in their houses under the trees.
From here we went to the Casa de la Suenos to look at their spa and take a peek at their rooms. It looked wonderful and I already imagined trying it next time I came back to Isla. You see the Isla magic was already up to its tricks and one journey there becomes another so easily. We may make room for a spa afternoon or dinner there if we have time.
Now it was time to head back to town and touch base with Barlito because I wanted to know where we could deliver a suitcase of books we had brought. I had assumed we would drop them the first day but the kids decided they want to read all of these children's books one more time. So we went to give us an idea where it was and then while the gc went home with my husband we wandered back through town. So many names of restaurants became a reality and the jigsaw puzzle of information on Isla that I had in my mind and on my sacred Mapchick Map started to come together.
After a lazy early evening at the hotel I managed to rouse the girls to join us for dinner. We tried to go to El Varadero but soon realized why it was mentioned as a lunch spot and not dinner. So back to town and to Olivias. Not a bad second choice at all. Another delicious meal.
Ultimately the kids have decided they want to do the Royal Swim with the Dolphins. I am really not partial now to this approach to interacting with dolphins but I do understand their desire. They will go on Sat. Until then I am looking forward to our adventures. I imagine we will do a few scubadiving trips although I have put little energy figuring out with whom and to where.
As I write this - it is the beginning off day two here on the isla. Everyone is still asleep and I am plotting breakfast at The Rooster. Regards -