Posted by: jeanne | July 13, 2009


i wrote last in isla holbox, about our trip to cancun and holbox, but was interrupted by the familia for la comida, which i never miss. i probably should. i don’t do well in the heat wtih a full stomach.

but we’re back in atlanta now, so this will be some of the things i forgot to mention while i had the time. by the way, the price for an hour’s use of internet cafe in holbox – don antonio, owned by a french pirate’s descendants) was 15 pesos, which is about a dollar-fifty. in cancun it was considerably more than that. this is because cancun is for the tourists, and holbox is for the residents. i so prefer holbox.

unfortunately, they tell me that the government has big plans for holbox. they want to turn it into the yucatan riviera, just like they’ve turned cancun and cozumel into the mayan riviera. but the residents don’t really want that. they like their laid-back lifestyle, and tourists are always ugly.

i’m rambling, i know. this is my recovery day, and i’ve just now plugged the computer in and am going about answering emails and washing the sand out of the clothes.

did i mention the beaches at holbox? the sand in cancun is manufactured, like the rest of the place. they grind up the dead coral (dead because of the pollution from all that building, all those hotels, and the big city of cancun proper). the sand washes away, and they dump it back on. after the hurricane a couple of years ago they lost a lot of beach, and there’s been some foundation damage to the sea walls of the fancy hotels. the sand is rough, full of bits of coral, sticks to your feet like glue, and doesn’t compress worth shit, so you flounder and flail as you try to walk the beach.

on holbox the sand is like powdered sugar. it packs nicely, there are shells. near the part of the beach used by all the fishermen, it is also littered with fish heads and parts of yesterday’s catch, so you have to watch your step.

actually, i think i’ll download the photos now and use them to tell something more coherent than i’m able to on my own.

we were at the westin spa and resort first, on the south end of the barrier island they call cancun, inc. (est. 1972). cancun runs from the mainland in a C shape, like this:


our hotel was just north of the club med, and that’s situated out on punta nizuc, which is the southernmost part of the island where it turns abruptly to go around the lagoon to the mainland. it’s a rocky point, the limestone or coral that it’s made of is very sharp to the touch because of the erosion of the waves. i guess it must be a coral outcrop. it was really neat, with tidal pools (pretty empty, actually), mostly invisible hermit crabs, this cool sedum-like plant that reached out branches and berries wherever there was a somewhat sheltered spot. the wind blows all the time, and waves pound the shore at any excuse, just because it’s a point, and waves concentrate on a point.

it was a nice hotel, with half a million rooms. coffee maker in the room that they didn’t charge you for, minibar fridge that they charged for everything inside, that we emptied and put our own boughten drinks and food into. marble lobby, plants, wide couches and chairs, intense wavy rugs, 10′ square acrylic abstract paintings with lots of color and some rhythm. a big pool, or rather a central pool with lots of little pools. the great thing about the westin resort is that it has a nice wide beach, and the turtles were nesting at the moment – early july. the high tide mark was a shelf, a good 2′ drop, and the waves broke right at the littoral, with no wide shallow run-up like you find on the outer banks of the carolinas. it was a narrow, steep beach of sticky, soft sand that wouldn’t pack. treacherous.


after the high tide drop-off, and the breaker drop off, both about equally wide, say 10-15 feet at the second hotel halfway up the island and about twice that at high tide at the westin, the slope leveled off to around peoples’ chests until the string of floats that marked the area where you wouldn’t get decapitated by jet skis. the immediate shore, the littoral, was a great blend of colors to us. there was the wonderful lovely teal turquoise manganese green-blue clear blue breakers with the white of the sun glaring along the curl, and there was the cream white breaker and the seafoam sea foam rolling up the beach, and in between like the leading of stained glass, was dashes of pink-brown sand  dashed into and over the incoming water and foam. it was very dramatic, loads of great rhythm, we could hear the crash from the room (because we immediately turned off the air conditioning and flung open the double doors).

we stayed out of the water, it was too hard to get down to it without slipping down the beach.  jay told us that there were great lumps of coral floating around on the bottom of the breaker line, and showed us a nasty scrape. coral is not nice.

i’m just noticing the smell of the clothes we brought back with us. there’s a particular blend of bug spray, sunblock, resort shampoo, salt, and dead fish. it’s the smell of the hotel rooms, too, so there must be mold in it too.

are we still in cancun? still at the start of our trip? there’s so much to tell, i need a nap. i can’t even remember the name of the second hotel we stayed in, after we went off to paradise.

oh, when we got on the plane to come back, the captain got on really cheerily and welcomed us back to reality. really rubbed it in. gave us a hard landing as well. thanks, guy.

i’ll write more later.

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