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Visiting the Moon Goddess: A Day at Isla Mujeres

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Jane Ammeson

Photo Gallery: Visiting the Moon Goddess: A Day at Isla Mujeres

In bustling Cancun, we connected with old-world restaurants in La Parilla, on Yaxchilán Avenue, in the city center or downtown district. Here, in the beautiful tiled interior, the mariachis gave us a serenade while we dined shrimp in tequila others Aztec Huarache with poplar and arrachera.

We also shopped at the extensive La Isla Cancún Shopping Village, with its luxury shops, set up the Ferris wheel there and were served Palomas too much while we were in the warm waters of the Caribbean.

It was time for a different view of the state of Quintana Roo, and thankfully that change was a short ferry ride away.

Crossing the waters of Nichupte Lagoon as it crosses the center of Cancun, a journey through jungle scrub and the continued expansion of this popular international tourist destination, our boat pilot tells us that centuries ago women on the continent wanted having a one child swam on Isla Mujeres. The name translates as Isle of Women and this is where Ishchel, the Mayan goddess of the moon, had her temple. Ixchel had the power, according to legend, to grant fertility. Hence the reason for the visit of infertile women through the Bay of Women or Bay of Women.

I hope they didn’t have to swim and then climb the 65-foot rock cliffs from Punta Sur to Ischel Temple. Surely there were canoes to make the journey that today lasts 25 minutes by motorized ferry. But no matter how you get there, the view is breathtaking: the waters surrounding the island are fluted with shades of blue and green.

Tourist boats dock at the pier in front of the Miramar Lobster House, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  © 2021 Jane Simon Ammeson
Tourist boats dock at the pier in front of the Miramar Lobster House, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. © 2021 Jane Simon Ammeson

We did not have to go up the cliffs, but we docked at the long pier in front of the Llagostera de Miramar on Av. Medina Wheel in the city center. A sandy beach restaurant that has been in operation for half a century, which is being renovated after an explosion killed about six shops on the street. We order grilled fish and freshly made guacamole and plan our day. Some in our group think that a pineapple cast can help with planning, but I refrain because I will drive the golf cart we booked to explore the island.

There are all kinds of activities to sign up for: kayaking, diving, zip-lining, swimming with dolphins and even the opportunity to enjoy an old Temescal, a type of spa cleaning treatment that goes back to the Mayan era which includes medicinal herbs, heated volcanic stones and steam. But our only goals are to visit the temple and snorkel in the clear waters.

Miramar is on Coco Cart Rentals Street and this is our next stop after visiting one or two shops. I chose not to hire a guide, thinking it might not be difficult to get to the southern end of an island that seems to be just two main roads and is half a mile wide at its widest point.

Well, it may not be so easy after all, but we are lucky to be joined by other tourists heading to the Ischel temple. We soon left behind the traffic of the population, driving south through rows and rows of mansion houses. It’s been two decades since I was last on the island and I don’t remember anything like these stunning houses, including the one I later found out is called The Shell House. It is a good name because it has the shape of a huge white shell with a snail-like tower of spikes facing a swimming pool. It is rented for about $ 300 a night. I mentally add it to my growing list titled “When I Get Rich.”

The island ends at Garrafon Reef Park (there is an entrance) where Ixchel Temple is located. Its temple does not compare with the magnificence of other Yucatan ruins such as Tulum and Chichen Itza: is this a women’s thing? I wonder But it’s still a piece of Mayan history. Worn away by rain and wind during its 1500 years, the temple of Ischel was not only a place to beg for a child, but probably also served as a beacon to warn ships from bays and cliffs. rocky mowing. We look at the steep rock and feel, as always, that strange, overwhelming feeling of centuries past stretching me out, as if I could somehow go back to ancient times if I only knew the right words. Of course, I would only have made this trip if I were in a canoe. That’s me.

The cliffs are 65 feet high and the Ischel temple is said to have also served as a lighthouse.  © 2021 Jane Simon Ammeson
The cliffs are 65 feet high and the Ischel temple is said to have also served as a lighthouse. © 2021 Jane Simon Ammeson

The beach and the reef below are accessible by an easy way to navigate, but that means a descent, and then, of course, a return uphill. The reef is known for its beauty and as a place to snorkel without even having to be a good swimmer. . Or you can stay upstairs. There is a lot to do here, such as exploring the sculpture park, visiting the turtle farm, joining others who are building small structures with smooth round stones lining the top of the cliff, ordering a horchata or a beer in the open-air restaurant next to the lighthouse. , and look at the small shopping plaza.

We then walk around the island to Playa Norte or North Point, the northern tip of the island, often described as one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. The water is warm and so clear that even at the waist you can see your feet at the bottom of the sea of ​​white sand. We carried tubes and swam between dense shoals of fish, some pale white, others white with fine black stripes.

They look nice, turn around, and get close enough to be bothered at times. I don’t mind my gestures, they always come back, which makes it easy to take great underwater photos with the little disposable camera I brought. Later, when you get home and have the photos developed and displayed, people will be amazed that you are on a great diving trip. But of course this is not true.

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Published or updated on: January 25, 2022 by Jane Ammeson © 2022

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