Mexico December 1 to January27,2016

We sailed the 320 mile trip from Grand Cayman to Isla Mujeres, Mexico with good wind. We hovered outside of Isla for a few hours so we could enter with daylight. Here is where we expected to stay throughout the holiday season as all the kids are flying into Cancun, Mexico only 6 miles across the channel.

    
The water is light bright blue, lots of white sand and a few boats anchored off of the town in Isla. We anchored near the lighthouse and small islands off the peninsula. Lots of day snorkelers come on tours here everyday. The snorkeling proved to be quite good especially in numbers of fish including some of the biggest barracudas we have seen. At one time I counted about 25 all ahead of me and maybe that many more in front of them. But all just sat there looking at us. There was some coral but it is so not a big coral reef. We spent hours getting photos of fish here. This area is a marine park and Mexico has a law that snorkelers must wear a life jacket when snorkeling. Very hard to do if you want to go underwater. It did cause us to get yelled at a few times.!

   
Isla Mujeres is a small island only 5 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. People were very pleasant and helpful. There is a good sized cruising community there, some having been there for years. The cruisers have a VHF net every morning to welcome new arrivals and help them become acquainted with the community. Safety and security, tips on where to find needed things, weather, buy or sell items are all part of the daily agenda. 
Time now to get Maraki ready for Christmas and the kids coming. As always this means clearing their bunks, bikes go outside, extra clothes in bins in aft lockers, Christmas decorations put up,few gifts bought. 
We decided to head to Puerto Morales area for their arrival as it is south of Cancun nearer to the airport. We spent 4 days at a free mooring off the little fishing village before going into the marina just outside of town. El Cid Marina was mostly empty of sailing boats, there were several fishing boats that did day charters and a big sailing catamarran for day charters. The marina had good protection from the north and east wind that was coming as well as being part of an All inclusive resort of the same name. Being in the marina allowed us the use of the pools, hot tubs, entrance into the nightly shows, maybe even a few free drinks! We did a time share presentation that got us free all inclusive day passes as well. 

 
 We did some car travel with all the kids to Tulum and took in 2 cenotes on the way. Tulum is a Mayan ruin of a walled town right on Carribean sea that was a thriving trading town when the Spanish arrived here in the 1520s. 

    
A cenote(natural sinkhole) is an underwater cave fed by underground springs. These vary in size and how commercially developed they are. We went to two, one called 7 Bocas and a small mom and pop type. It had 7 holes into the freshwater pools, quite basic. It had a wooden ladder to climb down about 15 feet to enter the water or of course just jump into. We did snorkel and explore here. 

        
The other cenote was called Dos Ojos and it is the entrance to the worlds longest known underwater cave system, over 350 miles long. It was two sinkholes with half caves and less claustrophobic feeling. We enjoyed snorkeling, the water so crystal clear, few little fish, filled with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. Divers coming up from the deeper water with lights and bubbles make eerie scenes. 

      
For Christmas Day we sailed the 25 miles back to Isla Mujeres. We rode bicycles around the island, snorkeled, wandered around town and Playa Norte, 

   
 sampled food and drink in various waterholes. We all love Mexican food and found the little market stalls/restaurants to be best value. We tried a different one each day for lunch!  

   
   
Places we visited include the Turtle Rehab center filled with green and white sea turtles, hawksbill ranging in size from tiny to adult. The south point of Isla called Punta Sur was a great place to stop,rehydrate and take pictures of the beautiful scenery. 

   
   
Whale sharks are found north of Isla Mujeres during summer months. They are the symbol it seems for the island.

     
 

   
    
 The time quickly passed and all the kids left again. It is so special for us to have them all gather with us to celebrate the Christmas season on Maraki! We feel fortunate that they enjoy it as much as we do. Time to relax, play games, swim/dive off the boat and enjoy each other. We planned to stay here for a bit longer as we hoped to visit Chichen Itza yet, do some boat chores and get ready for our next sail to Cuba. 

My brother Will decided to pay us a visit here as well so next post will continue with Mexico.

I am also starting to publish under the title of marakistillsailing.wordpress.com so look for us there

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