Quintana Roo

A New Isla Holbox And Not A Better One!

January 21, 2022

So, our last post documented how I flipped out in the midst of too many stimuli after a red-eye from Tijuana to Cancun followed by a bus ride and ferry crossing. Wow has the mellow island changed! And, from our perspective, not for the better.

Construction is evident all over and twenty-somethings weave through it. Not that we have anything against twenty-somethings. On one hand, we are thrilled that people are learning about the world around them. Expanding their horizons. But a good number of them seem to be all about the wardrobe, the driving beat of house music, moving in packs, demands, and getting subscribers.   

Now, here, an island that was tranquil is crowded and noisy. There have been rains and many of the dirt streets are filled with silty, smelly puddles that never seem to drain; off of many are trash heaps. Bike riding becomes treacherous, and my attempt ended in a crash after one minute, and a leap off the bike. Big wheel golf carts are more necessary then ever. 

We have looked for restaurants we enjoyed two years ago and found them closed and derelict. Pizza and tacos seem to be the foods of choice now. 

The still colorful Isla Holbox seems tired. The focus is not necessarily on protecting its delicate ecosystem. And Holbox’s environment really needs protection. Instead, the reserved land is being sold to the highest bidder at prices that will never be recouped.

In the beach restaurants and clubs, we have been ignored more often than served. There is attitude directed our way. But let a tanned, young couple, her with an overflowing triangle bikini top and thong bottom, show up at the table next to us and throngs of waitstaff appear. Are we just getting old? 

We took a few more wanders down the sand bar. In early 2020 when we were last on the island we pretended we were washed up on a slightly inhabited shore.

Now, we had to scoot between the go-pros, gimbals, and selfie sticks as “photo shoots” went on all around us. 

One group of young Argentinians kept placing strategic sandy handprints on their toned and tanned asses, either side of the thong, to get the perfect shot of lazy days in the sun. Then we tried a bit of our own, skipping the butt cheeks.

Scattered around town are restaurants with music in the evening. That remains. But, mixed in with “our kind of music” is the driving one that gives me angst, mainly at the beach clubs. Please, play something recognizable with words!  

This time around we enjoyed musicians at Roots; a pizza garden with lobster pizza as their specialty, and Hot Corner, which is as rocking as ever. There the fantastic DJ even brought others to chair dance. My peeps. We have so much fun that this time a group of young Brits stopped me on my way to the restroom and told me that they all hoped they could have as much fun in a few years as Glenn and I did. Ah, a few years!! How delightful. But try forty, my dears. 

Maybe some of my reaction was the driving wind that has pervaded most of our days; beating against my body and brain. As someone who is influenced by the weather the days were trying. Sleep was difficult. Some days were downright dark and stormy and we remained indoors. I tried to make it a perfect excuse to spend all day writing and not feel I was missing out. Then a day comes around where the sky is bright, the sun is out, the water is calm.

We kept asking the locals if this crazy weather is typical nowadays. Two years ago the water was glassy and bright turquoise and we sweated as we wandered the rough roads.  

They agreed everything is changing. The island, the visitors, the weather. Many who have lived on the island for decades are questioning what they can do to be comfortable staying, or where they should go next. 

Apparently, at the beginning of COVID, there were three months of lockdown. Whistleblowing towards the locals who went outside. Now there is a tidal wave of maskless people. We wear ours whenever next to or approaching someone. Some restaurants check temperatures, write down our phone numbers. And waitstaff typically wear masks, but not all. It is a crapshoot. 

We are triple vaccinated and take precautions, follow the rules, and hope for the best. Pretty much everything on Holbox aside from hotel rooms is outdoors. It certainly helps. Perhaps that will curb any outbreak. There is only a small medical clinic on the island, so that would spell disaster. 

The sunsets remain as spectacular as ever and the beach hosts the sunset worshipers nightly. Pick a good spot and breathe deeply.

There is still charm,  color, and spots of sand to claim as your own. Holbox isn’t to be written off entirely, its status as “flavor of the month” may change. The vibe may tone down one day.

The good old days. A phrase people like to throw out as a badge of being smart enough to have been ahead of the crowd. Forward thinkers, rebels, adventurers. We fall into those thoughts at times too. But it is time to recognize that the entire world is moving about.

We see it everywhere. I am sure once we feel we have our green light to fly internationally we will be shocked at the crowds that descend on our destinations that offer sunshine and water. The rise of Digital Nomads might mean no one who can be mobile will remain where they have to bundle up and stay inside for months on end. We have to either hurry up and visit or be prepared to share with the masses. In the end, everyone will have to share.

We too are visiting though. We can’t deny that to someone else. Those words “it is getting too crowded” can come from our mouths, but we have to admit, we are among those in the crowd. All we can hope is that we and others can be as respectful of the land and the people as possible. 

And always, spend time talking to the locals, this is their land and their stories often surprise us and always make our experiences richer. 

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  • Reply Phyllis Vince January 22, 2022 at 7:13 am

    What an interesting blog post! So interesting to hear how fast the world is changing, everywhere. I appreciate your perspective that “the entire world is moving about”. Easy to feel the crowds. Still gotta go see the world!

    • Reply ourprimeoflife January 26, 2022 at 11:49 am

      We all can’t wait to do so!! The big thing to do now is to meet places where they currently are and find enjoyment rather than look back and want them to remain the same which is unattainable. We learn that lesson every time we travel. Our bucket list of both new places to visit and old places to rediscover grows daily.

  • Reply Jefé January 21, 2022 at 5:40 pm

    ¡Your wind gates! Must have taken quite the hit in what looks like a stiff breeze with those white caps on the waves. But what a lovely beach and nice shallow water in which to frolic.

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