One spring morning in 1977, we crawled out of our tent – relieved that the sun bought an end to a night of hiding from sand fleas. We had made the mistake of camping behind a sand dune and not right on the beach. At dusk, the sand fleas came out and started biting. The mosquito netting on the tent was not fine enough to keep them out and we spent a miserable night.
So, we were looking forward to something much better as we headed for the ferry that would take us to Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres (the 'Island of Women') is a small island off the northeast coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Isla Mujeres is close to Cancun, but is a complete contrast to that popular resort. Cancun is the perfect place if you want a modern hotel with all the amenities and frenetic day and night activities.
Isla Mujeres on the other hand is a rather tranquil cozy island. The people are friendly and accommodating, but much more relaxed than those at Cancun.
Soon a modern ferry rolled up to the dock and we boarded. We had to leave our car parked in a guarded lot. That always made me a bit nervous since we had it broken into the previous summer in Villahermosa.
Looking down into the water of the Mexican Caribbean from the top of that ferry was a treat. It was a beautiful sunny day and you could see the bottom of the Caribbean all the way out on the forty odd mile trip. There were areas where the bottom was light sandy color punctuated by other spots that were dark – representing the areas where there were coral reefs.
It was a very peaceful relaxing trip.
When we got to Isla Mujeres, we took our backpacks and headed off the ferry. The first sign we saw was one in English – "Glass Bottom Boat Rides."
As we had been on a glass bottom boat before, we were thrilled with the opportunity to see some tropical reefs through the panoramic view of a glass bottom boat.
It was too late that day to go, so we went and got a motel. There were several decent motels at reasonable prices and we soon had a room overlooking the eastern beach of the island.
The next morning, after eating some of the food that we had cooked with us in our packs, we headed for the glass bottom boat rides. I had snorkeling equipment with me in case there was an opportunity to use them.
After paying the fare, we were soon headed to the boat. The boat was not quite what we had expected. In Monterrey, the boat had accommodated about 30 people. This one was only big enough for about 7. It had an outboard motor and looked like it could not handle more than the calmest of waters.
We spent about forty five minutes going south along the western edge of Isla Mujeres to an area where the captain of the boat said that they fed fish frequently and there would be good numbers to see.
We kept expecting him to pull away the paneling on the bottom of the boat so we could see. We were looking forward to seeing what beautiful fish and coral there were.
The captain thread some fish food around the boat and the fish started swarming around. We again thought that the paneling was about to be moved. But, surprise! – he handed a box to the person located closest to him. It had glass at one end. He explained that you put the box over the side of the boat and looked through the glass. Then you handed it to the next person.
My wife and I had a very hard time not laughing out loud at the captain and his ridiculous little box. Hardly a glass bottom boat!
However, we were able to each have a good turn and did see a lot of very pretty fish.
I took the opportunity, with the captain's permission, to go over the side and snorkel with the fish. The other people on the boat had as much fun watching me as the fish I think.
The rest of our time on the island was spent touring the other attractions of the island including an incredible aquarium, but the glass bottom boat ride was the highlight of our time on Isla Mujeres.