Cancun is a short, cheap ferry ride away; curious we hopped over and very quickly hopped back! Cancun is the tale of two cities – Hotel Zone is rampant with glitzy hotels and raucous party scenes, venture over to downtown and you’ll find way too many people and big box stores. Where’s our quaint island? Ferry terminal please!
Ahhhh Isla Mujeres – Island of Women – powdery white beaches and swaying palms. Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, fish tacos in the afternoon and beachside people watching; throw in a boat chore and that’s a typical day. There is so much I LOVE about Mexico, it’s really not fair to signal out one thing in particular…..but I’m gonna anyway – the shopping!
Hoss and I have been going to Mexico for years, in fact Hoss took me to Mexico my first time when we had been dating about a month…..geez I’ll follow this guy anywhere! Fond memories? You betcha, he pretty much got arrested! Wait, it gets better – I had just turned 22, naive didn’t begin to scratch the surface, I had been nowhere, done nothing, and waited an hour outside of a Mexican Police Station for my gringo boyfriend. They wouldn’t let me inside the Policia Comisaria, so I sat outside fretting. This was so long ago, I didn’t even own a cell phone…..but really, who was I gonna call? We had driven his truck, he had the keys, I mighta had a couple of bucks…..what was I to do? I of course had met his parents, do I try to phone them…..what does one say ‘Um hello, this is Jenny. Your son has been arrested in Mexico.’ As the minutes dragged on, my anxiety soared, and then he strolls out the front door. Yep, just like that. You see, they hauled him off because we had rented a four wheeler and we were not wearing helmets, which is against the law. Now mind you, they don’t give you a helmet when you rent the four wheeler and we were gringos, so….. The hour wait? It turns out the officers wanted a kick back, tying to scare Hoss so he’d toss out some money, maybe a $20, better yet a $50. Little did they know how stubborn he was. He was gonna just wait them out. While I was planning the rest of my life living in Mexico, he was holding out. In the end his fine was six dollars. It turns out this wouldn’t be our only run in with the law – but I can’t give you all the good stories at once! Back to the story – I was ready to throttle him, he was in the mood for a beer. We returned the four wheeler and headed to a beach bar.
This is where the I LOVE MEXICO comes in. Cold beer, chips and salsa, watching the water, and here comes a guy selling silver jewelry. PERFECT! The shopping comes to you! What a wonderful concept! Next a young kid selling adorable wooden bobble head animals and chicklets. A lady offering hand painted works of art. Don’t see what you want, tell them and they will find it and bring it…..right to your table! GENIUS! Wait, it gets better! You haggle. Yep, if they say 10 pesos, 7 pesos is more like it. You NEVER pay the first price, unless it’s a cute little kid, then all bets are off. Little did they know I was raised by a Grandmother who owned storage units. You see, if you didn’t pay your storage bill she had a sale and sold the contents. Give me an apron and a clipboard and I’m a master haggler! Who’d a thought I would find my calling on a beach in Mexico? A foldable chair, an ice chest, sunscreen and a good book; we’d head to the beach and the shopping comes to you. MAGNIFICENT! Fast forward to our quaint powdery white beach now and the vendors aren’t stopping. Heck, they don’t even see us. They stop at the Russian couple sitting under the umbrella in the rental chairs. They offer their wares to family with the noisy kids. They grab the attention of the group of girls celebrating the soon to be bride. But we are invisible. Four days of this. I haven’t spent any money. Hoss thinks it’s hilarious. I lean over and smell Hoss, nope we don’t stink. We are wearing appropriate bathing suits, laying on our foutas, toes in the water. ‘Hmmmm, I guess we look like we have no money!’ Finally, Hoss breaks the spell ‘Hola, amigo!’ ‘Ya better grab your wallet, babe!’