Travels with V
Island changing fast
We have one final stop on our mexican journey, Isla Holbox in the district of Quintana Roo, on Cancún. But Mexico is a big country, and it will take us a whole day to get there. We leave Tehuantepec early in the morning for a three hour bus ride to Oaxaca. From there we fly first to Mexico City and then on to Cancún. After that we get three more hours on bad roads in a minibus. In the port of Chiquilá we hop on a ferry that after half an hour lands in Isla Holbox. By then the full moon is up.
Holbox (pronounced ”holbosj”) is really just a big sand dune in the sea off the coast of Yucatán, and only the most western part is inhabited. It’s definitely a tourist paradise, but not so heavily exploited as Isla Mujeres, where we were a few years ago. But it’s probably set on the same path, we have heard from people who were here just ten years ago that they came to a small fishermen’s village with a handful of hotels. Today we find a pulsating city center crammed with bars and restaurants and probably hundreds of hotels in the other areas. Some of them so new they haven’t opened yet. There’s definitely a risk that in a few years this will be like Isla Mujeres, and the sandy roads will be paved.
But away from that noisy center it’s actually very quiet and peaceful here. There’s lots of space on the beaches, at least now in early March. Our hotel lies almost at the beach, the sea is clear and ca 22-24 degrees celsius so I can take up my favourite routine and go for a swim before breakfast.
Activities in Holbox are advertised everywhere, and include whaleshark watching and trips to the mainland attractions. But it’s too pricey for us so we join the stream of people who wander along the beach in eastward direction. This is the route to one of the island’s few real attractions, and it’s a…sand bank…It’s part of a nature reserve of some sort and there’s supposedly flamingos here sometimes. But not today. We do spot other birds, pelicans and frigatebirds of course, they’re everywhere. And waders with long legs and beaks. And royal terns.
Since we’re now in a tourist spot our dinner problems are over. There are quite a few good restaurants in the centre. The first evening we eat in a great japanese joint, Monono Omakase and are pleasantly surprised. It’s good to recognize other tastes than the not so varied Mexican ones. Next evening it’s Italian at the hip LUUNA and the third we go for the grilled lobster at Mandarina Seaside. And if we’re thirsty we never have to walk far.
As tourism in Holbox increased so did the traffic, and as a consequence more animals were hurt in traffic accidents. Someone had the kind heart to do something about it, and started the Refugio Holbox Animal Sanctuary. It’s a volunteer’s organisation that takes care of injured dogs, cats and racoons, rehabilitates them (if possible) and lets them out or tries to find a new home for them. When we’re there the place is full of dogs and cats, some seriously injured. A big dog has lame hind legs, a cat has lost an eye. We hope someone will open their door for them.
There are no racoons in the Refugio right now, but there’s lots of them on the island, we’re told. Nobody knows how they got here, but they’re a bit of a nuisance roaming around the hotels at night searching for food among the garbage bins.
There is actually one more attraction on Holbox, and that is the sunset. Every late afternoon lots of spectators gather on the beach to watch that red ball sink below the horizon. And there’s one activity that’s relatively cheap, rent bikes and pedal around. A little tricky on some of the sandy roads, but fun, and it can lead you to a beach where you’re all by yourself. There is a kind of a laid-back atmosphere here, reminding us of Caye Caulker in Belize, but not with the same charm. After a couple of sunny days in paradise we’re getting restless. But then, as you probably know by now, we were never any good at just lying in the sun all day.