Thursday, July 3, 2008

39. Mi Isla Bonita

Ambergris Caye may be the pretty island to Madonna, but as far as I'm concerned Isla Mujeres is La Isla Bonita.

Belize is a Carribbean country about the size of Rhode Island protected by 185 miles of barrier reef and surrounded by crystal clear water. If you were driving that, it would take something like 4 to 5 hours (assuming an easily driven direct road). On Island Time, it took four weeks. And as far as I'm concerned, you should never sail past the reef. I had been warned that it wasn't going to be fun, but we just had to get through it. I was prepared. I'd been taking Bonine for weeks. I had my watch backpack filled with everything I was going to need with me for those 3 hours I'd be alone at the helm: pants, long sleeve t-shirt, fleece jacket, wind breaker, cotton scarf, my Boho Beret, a blanket, a book, my knitting, my journal, more Bonine. I was a Girl Scout. We'd been talking about this for weeks. Totally prepared. Right. Almost the moment we crossed over the reef at St George's Caye on the 30th and hit the 6 foot choppy swell, my sea sickness kicked in. I spent the next 26 hours in the cockpit of the boat, wet, cold, sick and just uncomfortable. Actually, uncomfortable makes it sound not entirely unpleasant. It was beyond unpleasant. I bruised my tailbone. Every muscle ached. It was just not natural - you should not be in open water, crossing through wind, rain, thunder and lightning storms, in the middle of the night when the lights of land are even slightly visible. It's just not right. You should be able to stop and pull over, get some rest, eat, maybe even go to the bathroom. But we couldn't. We pushed on to Chinchorro Bank, Mexico and finally dropped the anchor around 2pm on July 1st. Oh, and the backpack? Only made it out of the cabin long enough for me to grab my fleece and windbreaker.

CB is behind a reef (note the flat water), but that didn't last very long as we were on our way again the next morning, right after a little visit from the Mexican Navy. The seas weren't as bad and it was day light. Unfortunately, my vertigo kicked in just about the time my nausea settled down. Good stuff. 37 foot sail boat in open water pushing through 3 - 5 foot seas and I'm dizzy...I spent most of the day on my bunk with my eyes closed, moving as little as possible. We anchored at Cozumel around 2am this morning, slept a bit, were on our way again by 9am and pulled into Heaven around 4pm. Heaven, you ask? Yes. Villa Vera Puerto Isla Mujeres Marina. Water, power, free wi-fi and showers. More importantly, however, it's on land. Oh and there's a pool. With a swim up bar. And cabana boys. Hello vacation!

And so, to me, Ambergris ain't got nothing on Isla Mujeres.


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