Actually if you know me very well, this is a pretty silly question. OF COURSE I have told you about my island. Well….it isn’t actually “my” island, but that is how I describe it. Many of my island friends call it “their” islands, too. That is how it feels to us.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico is a small island off the coast of Cancun. It was once mostly a small fishing community, but it has grown in popularity since we made our first visit (much to the chagrin of some of the “old time” visitors to the island, who remember days of unpaved sand streets with less mainland tourist traffic and more travelers).
We discovered the island back in the mid 1990’s, when we went there for a wedding – but that is a story for a different day. The first year that we went we thought we were going on a once in a lifetime adventure. The island had other plans for us.
I simply fell in love with the place. The beauty of the island itself, with its clear aqua blue water and soft, white sand, and the wonderful people who reside there have called me back year after year. I dream of walking the red brick paved streets almost every night, and I recall the feel of the wind on my face as I walk the malecon on the Caribbean side of the island listening to the surf while I look towards Cuba.
For many years Jim and I would visit the island alone, without our children. Many times I made the statement that Isla had saved my marriage. Our time there was a magical time when we could talk for hours and remember why we liked each other in the first place. This feeling was, in part, due to the fact that we were not constrained by the daily demands of parenting three daughters and working full time. I do feel that a large part of it was the atmosphere of the island itself, though. The slower pace and the warm, friendly feeling that surrounded us helped us to relax and enjoy each other as we experienced our new surroundings together, a new adventure.
When I am on Isla I am definitely my best self. A friend who has known me since those early days…when I was extremely nervous about everything around me, from the rustic bathroom facilities at some establishments, to the terrible rumors that I heard about eating and drinking certain things in Mexico, to the presence of law enforcement officers with very large guns…has said that I am not the same person I was then.
I agree with her. Isla Mujeres has given me new eyes to see the things around me. The island has made me value what I have a little bit more. It has made me want a little bit less. It has enriched my life with friends who feel the same way…people that I only see for a few days every year or so. Thanks to the internet many of us have continued to communicate with each other. We have all grown older, had many life changes, lost loved ones and gained new ones.
Jim and I have since taken the girls to the island several times. While they may not share my passion for Isla, they certainly understand it. They know that I long to spend an extended time there someday, and if I were to disappear someday when the stress of daily life gets too much, they would know exactly where to find me.
We missed our trip to the island last year for a very good reason. Our granddaughter was born in March, so we used our limited vacation time to go and meet her. It was a wonderful trip to England, and we were happy to spend time with the new family, but I have to admit that my heart hurt a little to miss my annual pilgrimage.
We will finally return to the island in February on Valentine’s Day – the same day/month that we arrived on our very first trip. It is a wonderful time to be there and many of the people that we have known for years who consistently visit the island that month will be there. I am so excited that I feel a little bit like a kid at Christmas. I cannot wait to feel the spray on my face as we cross the bay and to hear our host say “welcome home” when walk into the lobby of the Francis Arlene to stay in room #15, the one that we have lived in during our trips for the past several years.
A few good friends will not be with us this year, and that will be sad. We have spent many hours together on the balcony that connects our room, and we will miss that friendly exchange. The nice thing about Isla, however, is that each trip back is a new adventure. We will rekindle old friendships, make new ones and find ourselves again.
I just can’t wait to be HOME.