What a delightful find this was! A well-kept secret indeed on Isla Mujeres. And for some of the tenants, they would like to keep it that way. I met vacationers from this year who have booked their rooms for the next year. Specific rooms. One couple had to change their vacation times so they could get the room they wanted. The two front rooms have windows facing the ocean. These are popular. There also is a balcony area in the front of the hotel that also faces the ocean. This is the view from the balcony:
Here is a view looking the other way from the balcony sitting area, a view of the breezeway:
The balcony is where the guests gather mostly at the beginning of the day, and after the beach. Social central.
The hotel rooms are on the second floor, accessed by stairs in the middle of the building. Looking at the following view of the hotel, the centre is the entry into the building; the restaurant is on the right side - tables spill over into the middle area during restaurant hours. There are offices on the left side, including a dentist.
When I booked my room, the manager, Gabriel, reserved Room 4 for me; this room is in the central part of the hotel area. There are a total of 10 rooms, 4 of them that have kitchen facilities. All rooms have satellite TV, a/c, refrigerator, wireless Internet, and a private bathroom with hair dryer. The first morning, I met Lupe, who very thoroughly cleaned our rooms every day, and was extremely helpful when I needed sunblock on my back. She was cleaning Room 6; people had left that morning. I liked the room; though it was almost a duplicate of #4, it had an extra set of windows. I asked for a change.
And that is how I ended up in the room at the back of the hotel. Quiet. Nice breeze coming in the window. View of palm trees.
Here's where I stayed for 13 days...
Our hosts (Gabriel, Lupe, Alfredo, Selina) were very gracious, helping me with language issues. One day, I had a conversation with Lupe's 7-year-old son who spent a good deal of time teaching me the Spanish word for frog. No matter what I said, I just wasn't pronouncing it right. Perhaps one day he will be a teacher, inspired because of the extreme need to teach foreigners Spanish, all because of one woman who just couldn't say "rana."
Several days after I arrived, we had a guacamole lesson for all the guests. Gabriel, his wife Selina, and their 2-year-old son Max, showed us the traditional way of making the best appetizer. The secret I discovered was being in Mexico. There you get all the best ingredients - perfect avocados and limones that we can't find in Canada. The best part was - NO cilantro. Really, the best part was the tasting. Yum!
As we ate our guacamole and drank free beer, we told stories, and learned more Spanish. A new word everyday. This day, we learned the word, "sede," which means host. I was reading the news headlines that morning, and found out something was happening in Cancun.
So let's say you are planning a journey to Isla Mujeres, and let's say you are thinking of staying at Xbulu Ha. Where do you begin in pronouncing that one? The name comes from the Maya. Here is a try at the phonetics: esh-boo-loo h-a.
I remember a conversation with another guest. They said to me, "If you found this place, I would say you did pretty good." I agree.