Canadian Wanderer

Travel plans, thoughts & lessons

Month: February 2018

In search of Needful Things in Cancun

If you’re like me and enjoy an occasional escape to an all-inclusive beach resort to devour everything on the all-inclusive menu and a good book by the pool or ocean you can relate to the mild panic of coming to the end of your novel before the end of the holiday as recently happened to me in Cancun, Mexico.

I packed the paperback edition of An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris who masterfully tells the true tale of the Dreyfus affair which divided France for a decade at the end of the 19th century but I raced through its 624-pages the first two days and found myself suddenly without engaging reading material.

Some resorts have a lending library which is mainly made up of paperbacks left behind and while a limited choice of topics they can be a good back-up but my resort was so high-end it didn’t bother with such notions and as the local convenience store had almost everything but readable English books I invested USD$1 to hop the bus to a nearby upscale shopping center but came away empty-handed.

Booting up the laptop I found a local  second-hand English bookstore called Needful Things in downtown Cancun that  isn’t too far from the tourist bus route on a main avenue.

The interior reminded me of a local Edmonton used bookstore called Wee Book Inn except more humid even at 10 in the morning.

Browsing the shelves I found a Scott Turow novel, Ordinary Heroes , that caught my eye so reluctantly traded my virtually new Thomas Harris paperback for a well-worn novel a dozen years-old and while I felt the worse in the trade consoled myself with the upside that I had a good book to read. Ironically, the book I selected was one I’d already purchased and so now have duplicate copies of the paperback.

I finished Turow’s Ordinary Heroes after returning home and would recommend it also to anyone wanting a good read family historical drama.

I’m glad I sought out this little literary corner of Cancun as it saved me from days of boredom so should you find yourself resort-rich but book-poor there’s always a go-to resource a short bus ride away in Cancun to replenish your reading materials.

Two wheel tour of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

When planning my escape to Cancun a day-long detour to a nearby offshore tropical island named Isla Mujeres or “Women’s Island” in Spanish seemed exotic enough and while I failed to return with a female in my carry-on I did enjoy a memorable day on a bike exploring this slender island from north to south.

While lying a scant 8 miles off the Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula Isla Mujeres seems a world away from the country’s mega-tourism capital of Cancun with a far more laid back, low-key lifestyle. The island’s Spanish name was given by 16th century conquistadors due to the many images of the Mayan goddess of childbirth and medicine, Ixchel, a fact I thought of as the Ultramar fast catamaran ferry laboured through some choppy seas to deliver me to the Terminal Marítima at the island’s northern tip.

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Don’t believe the advice from hotel concierges that the best transportation option to the Ultramar ferry terminal at Puerto Juarez is an expensive cab ride when the local bus that runs the length of the resort corridor runs right to the   terminal  USD$1 one-way per person.

While most gringos opt for the ubiquitous golf cart that has become the island’s favored form of transportation I opted to rely on pedal power to wheel me around the barely 4-mile long island. I stopped at a local bike rental shop recommended by the local tourism office and minus USD$12 daily rental fee rode away with a stylish Cape Cod Cruiser sporting under inflated tires but a sturdy frame.

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From the more urban area around the ferry terminal I headed south along the coast and near the airport came upon this sign with a replica whale shark.

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At the southern tip of the island is Punta Sur, an ocean side park sprinkled with modern art.

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On a ledge is a plaque letting visitors know that they are standing at the southernmost spot in all of Mexico.

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The views on three sides of the rough surf pounding against the island are more than worth the small price of admission to the park.

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The skyline of Cancun looms on the horizon.

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Pedaling north from the island’s southern tip takes one along a spectacular stretch of road that skirts the coast for miles.

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The mostly downhill ride from Punta Sur brought me to to the island’s most popular beach, Playa Norte.

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There are a growing number of hotels and resorts in Isla Mujeres and some locals commented that it wasn’t like it used to be however the island still retains that small town atmosphere

Isla Mujeres is a Pueblo Mágico or Magical Village program. a status granted by the Mexican government to 111 towns & villages to recognizes their cultural, historical, and natural interest and beauty and after spending a day cycling around this island soaking up it’s stunning scenery and enjoying its warm & friendly residents the magic of its unique culture was revealed to me and I look forward to my next visit which is hopefully longer.

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