Delighted to be in our golf cart, Jackie and I headed south on Isla Mujeres’ main road towards the Turtle Sanctuary and Punta Sur.
On our way, we had to stop when we saw a shrine for the Virgin of Guadalupe and take a couple pictures. It was the first of many shrines we would see.
Pausing at the shrine gave us a chance to notice that it was next to a small inlet, which looked like it was used by locals as a docking area for small boats.
We wondered if this small lagoon had been used by the Maya as a “salina” to collect the salt produced by the island.
“I read somewhere that salt was used to preserve food and also as a currency,” I said.
“Cool!” We took a couple pics. Moments later, Jackie said, “I wish we could still use salt as money.”
“Seriously. I could see it now, ‘I’d like to pay for my airfare in salt, please.'”
“Ha! ‘That’ll be 1 kilo of salt, please.'”
We laughed at our silly pretend sales exchange.
Turning back towards our cart, I heard a dog barking from across the street. I looked around and saw him on top of a roof!
“Oh my gosh! Look!”
“How’d he get up there?”
We couldn’t stop laughing. The dog was barking away at, what seemed like, nothing at all.
“I dunno, but I’m taking a picture!”
“I hope he’s not stuck,” Jackie said, sadly.
Looking beyond the unexplained dog on the roof, we were struck again by the charm of the area. The colorfully painted houses contrasted brilliantly against the grey sky.
We got back into our golf cart and drove around a bit away from the main road. Jackie really wanted to see what the back streets looked like. There wasn’t a whole heck of a lot going on — the streets were mostly empty. We saw the typical shops: beauty supply, clothing stores. And there were decorations for Christmas and placards of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the front of some houses.
When we managed to get back to the main road, it started to drizzle. We were happy that we had rented a cart, but even happier to get inside the Turtle Sanctuary.
The price of admission was minimal, and the building was small, but what we found inside made us really smile: tiny turtles!
The Turtle Sanctuary started to ensure the safety of the turtles and their eggs from poachers. Isla Mujeres is a nesting ground for giant turtles, and because the animal is now federally protected, the Sanctuary acts as a safe haven for eggs and young. Once the turtles are large enough, they are released into the wild by school children. If only we could have seen that! Little kids sending the little turtles off! We absolutely loved the baby turtles, but the albino ones were pretty cool, too!
We thought the Sanctuary would have been a bit larger, but we were happy to check out the other critters they had in the tanks.
On our way out, we saw a couple pull into a parking spot with their golf cart.
“They have a bucket of Coronas,” I said quietly as I gazed at the bucket in the front of the cart. It was nestled perfectly between the pair as if it belonged there.
“That’s the way to travel!”
We raised our eyebrows at each other. Apparently these tourists had their golf cart adventure a little more figured out than we did! (On the other hand, neither of us was so bold as to drink drive!)
Consulting our map, we continued south towards Punta Sur. Today would be the first time either of us would see a Mayan ruin. We were so excited! One of the main reasons we wanted to visit Mexico was to see the ruins in celebration of 12/21/12.
On our way there, however, it really started to rain.
“Jackie! I’m getting soaked!” I showed her my arms. They were glistening with rainwater.
I even had to take off my sunglasses because the rain was making it difficult to see.
We were starting the ascent to the ruins when we spotted a little restaurant on the left. Reggae music was drifting out onto the street.
“Should we stop here for lunch?” Jackie asked.
“Might as well. Make a U-Turn,” I said as we were passing. “We can wait out the rain.”
Jackie pulled over to make the u-turn. “Are you sure it’s open? There isn’t anyone there.”
“It has to be! They’re playing music.”
We pulled up to the restaurant, hopeful that we would be served.