Isla Mujeres 2015: Days 4 + 5

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Sunday, March 15: Day Four

This was a day that we declared should be full of total relaxation, no big plans other than laying on the beach and at the pool. Yes, please.

Nate and I woke up at 6:30 am from our (annoying) internal alarm clocks. We walked down to see the sunrise, yet again, and I snapped lots of pictures buildings around town, too.

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Not sure if these are succulents or what, but so pretty.
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After the sunrise we took the long way around through North Beach back to our condo. This is where Nate remarked that if he were a pigeon, he would want to be one here. Then I took this picture and posted his quote to Instagram, but apparently this is NOT a pigeon. Nate is so smart and knows all of his birds, guys.

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shadows.
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surf boards.
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Back at the condo, we made coffee and had some with Erin and Ben. We might have Facetimed with the children and if so, I'm certain Cecelia requested to see the turtles and the palm trees again. Then Erin and I went down to the beach and secured front row lounge chairs for the day. YES. The beach was super quiet at this time of day and I went back up to the condo to get another cup of coffee, bringing it down to the beach. I had Lois' Kindle, my cup of coffee, and the waves on a quiet beach, with warm, sunny weather. Seriously. Perfection.

Had never heard of 'hot dogs or legs' until this trip, glad Erin enlightened me!
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We left our four prime real estate lounge chairs with towels on them, so that we could go eat a real breakfast (peanut butter toast was had earlier but that was always a pre-cursor to the real meal out).

Lola Valentina was our pick for breakfast this day, which was where we ate dinner the first night. We had the same exact table and the same server, and it took a VERY long time to actually order and receive our food again. But then it ended up being a very tasty---Erin and I split cinnamon roll pancakes and a breakfast burrito. Both were delicious and yet again, I was lusting after their coffee bar but restrained myself due to an already high level of caffeination.

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Also, Nate stopped on the way home to get his coconut that he wanted the entire trip. Supposedly very good!
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We walked back to the condo and got ready for some relaxation in the sun. I reapplied 30-45 SPF sunscreen every day probably 3-4 times but today I stuck to just 1-2 times of reapplication, and I paid for that choice in a few specific areas were I got a little crispy. Mainly right above my suit near my pits and the backs of my thighs. Ouch! But really, having the palest ever Wisconsin skin and then going to a tropical destination for 5 days, with only slight roasting the final full day? Not horrible, I guess. Nate, on the other hand, is convinced that next time he is only going to use tanning oil with SPF 15 included. Because he thinks that allows for only a tan and no burn. Riiiiiiiiight, Nate. Let me know how that works out for you!

lounging

Going back and forth from the beach lounge chairs to the pool rafts was basically the entirety of the day.  Erin and I went back to our condo for leftovers from breakfast, and then eventually the guys made several batches of Pina Coladas. Ben and Nate got antsy at one point and 'had' to get more rum even though we still had a ton of beer left, and ended up giving away both rum and beer the next day to some lucky strangers. I read a decent amount of my book, we stared at the numerous, gigantic boats in the ocean, and remarked at how packed the beach was on the weekends. There were Pina Coladas in the pool while floating and chatting with friends. What I wouldn't give to be back there right now!

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We all got ready for dinner, and were planning to take a 2 mile walk to a fancier restaurant called Cafe Mango. But then Erin read an online review that said a husband and wife had to poop on the side of the road immediately after eating there. Ben was automatically horrified as he had been fighting some GI issues at this point, so we decided to skip the long walk and stay closer to the condo.The boys went over to see if they could put our name in at Olivias, but it was closed despite the internet saying it was open on Sundays. They also went back to Abuelos to see if they were open, because both of the guys would have eaten there for every single meal after our experience on Saturday. But nope, closed, too. Erin did more research and we settled on Amigos for our final dinner.

But not before we forced another stranger to take a picture of us four all fancy and free on our last night of vacation. My favorites yet!

Outside of our condo:
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Beach bums---and yes, I chuckle at how much our husbands look alike. Nate thinks it's just because of their bald heads, but the sunglasses sort of seal the deal. And coordinating outfits.
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We wanted to get the kids and our parents something authentic from the many street vendors, and I really wanted a Fedora since the rest of our group all had cute hats. I'm not a hat person, but I have decided to be one this summer;) Nate haggled for my hat and also two little coin purses for our moms. He had also gotten Truman and Cecelia fake Ray Bans earlier this day, since he really wanted them to have something they actually *needed* instead of 'just more crap.' Ha.

Ah, Mexico.
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Amigos wasn't too busy when we sat down outside but got fairly crowded later. Loved that it was right on the main street so that people watching was in full effect. I had a margarita (surprise) and it was amazing (double surprise), we all split guacamole like we'd done every single night, and my chicken tacos with cheese were great. Really didn't have a bad meal while in Mexico!

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Some sort of mango punch drink?
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Drool.
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Tending to her sunburn.
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Yum.
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This picture is my favorite because every time it comes up on the Apple TV screen saver, the kids always ask, 'Why is her face like that? Is she sad? What are you drinking? Why can't she have alcohol, too?' Very confusing!
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After dinner the boys insisted that we try a crepe from a street vendor, as they swore to us that it was mind-blowing. It was, in fact, ridiculously good: crunchy, small, and full of banana, caramel and nutella. Also, ben had a ham-wrapped hot dog for about $1. Vacation!

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We went back and talked on the patio for awhile, and I believe the boys went to a tequila bar briefly. For some reason we discussed Love Languages and I took the quiz to find out I am apparently all about Words of Affirmation. Very valuable information, yes (NATE! TAKE YOUR QUIZ NOW! IMPORTANT!). We might have stayed up until an impressive 11pm this night.

Monday, March 16th: Day 5

Whomp, whomp, time to go home this day. I'm sure it would feel this way no matter how long we stayed, but Nate and I both remarked we could have easily gone for one more day on this trip. But alas, vacation must end at some point.

We woke up at our very-consistent 6:30 am and took our very-consistent walk to the other side of the island for a final sunrise. It was incredibly windy this morning and I was admittedly impatient when waiting for the sun to appear over the clouds. But still pretty!

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Little places like this all around the side streets--so cute.
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Last sunrise ;(
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Scene of the crime from Friday night!! Threw his money away all in the name of a picture of this sign.
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The normal morning routine included coffee, patio time, and getting ready for breakfast. Plus we had to officially pack our suitcases and lug them with us to breakfast. I wore my new hat because I'm totally a hat person now.

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threefedoras

We walked to Rubens for breakfast (a name I loved for Porter but Nate shot it down faster than 'Rosalie' for a girl) and it was around 9:00 and very quiet. I loved my ham and cheese omelette, black refried beans, and rice and my mango juice was perfection. Plus, I'm pretty sure this was the most ridiculously inexpensive meal of the trip---my entire meal was $4 or something unreal.  Yes.

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We walked to the ferry and got on the 10:00 ride. Same rock singer on our trip back to Cancun but significantly less excitement in the air. We found our shuttle driver without a problem, rode to the airport, and said our goodbyes to Ben and Erin as the driver dropped us at our terminal first.

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Nate and I had a solid 2.5 hours before we boarded our flight, and security was a breeze. The Cancun airport was a lot nicer than I remember from 2004 when I was there last, and we found a few duty free purchases for the children and our parents (candy, and vanilla respectively). Then: Starbucks!! Getting closer to home already.

The flight was no big deal, but the baggage claim at Midway was kind of ridiculous. I believe it took us a total of 1.5 hours from the time we landed until we arrived at our car in the parking lot, then the 2 hour drive back to Milwaukee was uneventful. We got home around 9pm so the kids were sleeping soundly, but Tony, Lois and my mom greeted us instead. We exchanged cliff notes from our time apart from each other, Nate and I both took turns sneaking in to give the big kids kisses (sorry, Porter, can't mess with an accidental wake up from you, my love!), and passed out shortly after.

The next morning, the kids were SO excited to see us that it made the painful reality of the post-vacation blues more tolerable. Seeing Porter's giant smile when I got him at 6 am was priceless, and both CC and Truman said, 'I'm so glad you are home,' and provided us with plenty of hugs. Of course, the next few days were full of emotional turmoil as my mom flew back home and we all adjusted to our routine without her.

All in all this trip lived up to our expectations and then some. I mean, we didn't really expect much aside from relaxation and sunshine, but we got that plus fantastic food, a beautiful condo, and easy travel. I would go back to Isla Mujeres and to Nautibeach in a heartbeat, and we will just have to slowly wear Ben and Erin down to agree to 2016. I suppose Nate and I could go by ourselves if we *had* to, because having a winter vacation to anticipate was worth it alone!

And now the trip is really over

Isla Mujeres Trip 2015: Day 3

{Day One}
{Day Two}

Day THREE: Saturday, March 14

Both Nate and I woke up around 6:30 this date, so we both walked over to the other side of the island to watch the sunrise. Seriously, so beautiful, although the clouds were pretty low and kind of obscured the sun a bit. I commented that the clouds hovering next to the ocean reminded me of mountains, and therefore Colorado, and therefore my parents;) We found a single man who was likely American (fanny pack and all) and had him snap our picture, and when I offered to return the favor he said, 'Oh, no. I already know what I look like.' Loved seeing no less than five other people taking pictures of the sunrise on this part of the island.

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Walking back to our condo, I noted that it was really quiet and peaceful in the streets at this time of morning. Not that it's usually wild and loud at night, but everyone seemed to do a better job at sleeping in that we did!

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We came back to the condo, tried the stupid safe a few more times, made and drank coffee, and chatted with Erin and Ben. My mom texted me this about Cecelia and it made me laugh. (Oh, and The X Song was a video Truman's teacher sent from the week prior in school. Each week they send home a video of the kids singing a song to the letter of the week. Adorable. Also adorable? My mom's use of the word 'poopoo'. )
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The guys had discovered a snorkeling day trip when they were out and about yesterday, maybe during their three grocery store runs. They really wanted us to go on a boat at 10:30, which would take us to two different snorkeling locations, then a final stop at a different beach for lunch. We'd be back by 2:00 and it was only $35 a person, including lunch which seemed like a steal! Erin and I agreed to do it, so this morning we knew we had to get moving on breakfast before we left for the day trip.

At 9:00 the office to our condo opened, so I went down there at 8:50 naturally. There was a guy inside already and I told him that I locked our safe and we couldn't open it (whoopsies). He called the property manager and said he would be there in 20 minutes. Eventually the guy came and he was about 5'0" and very chipper. He assured me that 'this sometimes happens' as we walked to our condo. A few beeps and 10 seconds later the safe was open. Hallelujah!!

Let's take a picture of us outside of our condo to celebrate!
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We walked into town and decided to eat at Rooster, which I'm pretty sure is an international chain restaurant, because Erin has eaten at a Rooster in St. Louis that looks identical to the logo of this one in Mexico. But our server was really friendly and the service was fast, food was good. I got an avocado, egg, and bacon sandwich on a bagel with potatoes on the side. I really REALLY wanted a coffee but figured my two cups at the condo would be enough and then I could avoid The Shakes while on a boat. (Sad trombone, as I freaking adore strong, black coffee in astronomical amounts. Highly caffeinated, I am, yes.).

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The little snorkel tour shop was right across from our breakfast place, so we went over there and then walked to our boat with our guide and three other girls who were on our tour. The other three girls all spoke fluent Spanish which was quite helpful because our boat driver and the guide for the trip didn't speak a ton of English. I know one of the girls said she was from D.C. but I'm not sure about the other two, although I think at least one of them spoke Spanish as their native language and English as her second. Anyway, we drove out to the first snorkel stop and had to swim a fair distance while fish-watching, as our boat took off and met us a little bit later. We did see some pretty awesome fish: barracudas, iridescent/tropical-looking fish, schools of the tiniest fish ever....all in fairly shallow and super clear water. We had to be careful for the 'fire coral' which wasn't the easiest since I thought the current was crazy strong, but we survived.

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Ben cracks me up here. Also: snorkeling masks are attractive.
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Hoping my phone doesn't fly out of Nate's hand here.
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Holy wind, but look at that blue water!
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Back on the boat, we took a breather as they drove us to the next site and it seemed like the water was incredibly choppy all of a sudden. The second stop was at this 'sunken statue' location, where they had clusters of eerie human statues standing around in circle at the bottom of the ocean. Plus one car (??). This was a lot deeper than the first stop and ridiculously wavy and I kind of just wanted to get back on the boat. Once we did, I could tell that the D.C. girl who stayed on the boat during this snorkeling round was not doing well. Erin also stayed on the boat this time and said the chic was definitely sea sick. Then on the ride to the final stop, Erin didn't feel wonderful (i.e. was on the verge of barfing) and I sort of felt queasy, too. Once we finally stopped at Playa Tiburon for our lunch, nothing had ever felt better than solid ground. We lounged on the beach a bit, I partook in a beer with the men, took this video of the scenery, and then we had a fish lunch (grouper?) with the crew. It was good but I am not a big fan of fish with little bones hidden inside---very authentic and fresh, though.

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Love you!
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Woah.
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Little dining hall was very cute.
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We rode back to our part of the island and it was a much smoother trip than the vom-worthy ride before. We went back to the condo and I think we just hung out at the pool/beach/patio before getting ready for dinner (and yep, Pina Coladas were had). Nate and I were in the pool and met a couple from Wisconsin, and I believe this was the day our next door neighbor in condo #5 arrived. That family was from Texas and we had a lengthy discussion in the pool about fishing boats, fuel costs, and children. They had been to Nautibeach four times in the past 18 months and brought their two children, ages 5 and 7, with them. This was one of those times when I missed my kids while watching families have fun together.

After Face-timing the kids I sent this video of the little turtle pond by our condo to my mom for Cecelia. She was obsessed with the turtles I had shown her while Face-timing and then continued to ask for them every subsequent time we talked. She also watched that video hundreds of times, I'm told.

After showering and getting ready, Erin and I walked to the beach because there was a wedding happening directly in front of the Sunset Grill. Very pretty and we witnessed the maid of honor momentarily freaking out because she had forgotten the rings, asking a random person in the back row to go and get them. Erin and I both remarked that it seemed like our wedding took place in a different lifetime: 10 years for Erin and Ben this fall, 8 years for Nate and I in May. I vote that Erin and Ben renew their vows for a big 12 year trip in Isla Mujeres, yes??

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Sunsets are awesome.
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We then walked to dinner and were on a mission to find a little 'hole in the wall' place called Abuelos (I just typed 'Amigos' over and over again until I saw the picture I took of the restaurant), which had great ratings on Trip Advisor. It was definitely off the beaten path and didn't seem like that much upon arrival, but it was probably our favorite meal of the entire trip. I mean, the staff was fantastic, the food delicious, and it was shockingly inexpensive. Nate and I split my chicken tacos and his tuna filet. We had margaritas on the rocks and the big claim to fame for this meal was Ben's large pour of tequila (for sipping) at the end of our time at Abuelos. Something about the authentic atmosphere there, plus the yummy food and fun company made this a top notch experience of the trip.

Also think this version of guacamole is the fanciest and best of the trip.
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Chicken tacos
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Tuna! Gigantic, isn't it? Nate's dad though this was a picture of a beef steak.
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Tequila!
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Ah, little Abuelos/Amigos. You were so great to us.
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Cheers. My iPhone camera is seriously struggling lately.
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On the walk home, street dancers noted.
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I believe we went back to the condo and sat out on the beach again this night. Most likely asleep by 10pm, too. Ah, early to bed and early to rise: my kind of schedule on vacation and always.
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