20 minutes south of Cancun, Puerto Morelos was our next and final stop in Mexico and at 5 nights was the longest stay on our trip so far. The reason we chose to visit this fishing village was to see my friend Louise, who has been living here for the past 8 years. Lou and I became friends when I lived in London back in 2001, so it had been a long time since we had seen each other, and needless to say we were both very excited to see one another. She picked us up in Cancun and we made our way down the coast chatting non-stop – as you can imagine we had a lot to catch up on.
We stayed at Lou’s place for our first 2 nights in a beautiful round one room structure filled with cushions and hammocks, surrounded by lush jungle. When we arrived her cats and beautiful dog Chin-Tok greeted us and once we had settled in we headed downtown by the water for some food, drinks and a swim. Here we were introduced to Ojo Rojos (red eye) – a local specialty which is basically a Bloody Mary mix without vodka topped with beer, they are delicious and refreshing and I will definitely try to recreate this drink back home.
Puerto is a really laid back town with more locals than tourists, cheaper food, and the atmosphere is mucho tranquilo (very relaxed).
That evening we met Lou’s boyfriend Paz for dinner at a local Uruguayan restaurant where we enjoyed a feast followed by tequila or 3 – naturally. We had a great night catching up with Lou and getting acquainted with Paz who is a local, born in Isla Mujeres, and passionate about his home and life in Mexico with extensive knowledge about all the local wildlife, history of his land and people. Paz lives in the deep jungle in a home he built himself, and entertains tourists that visit Puerto with the tours he runs – out to the reef for snorkelling and also into the jungle to visit cenotes or to take part in Temazcals (a Mayan Steam Bath ritual).
The next day we all met in the main square in town and after a breakfast tamale we headed out early to go snorkelling on one of Paz’s tours. Joined in the boat by an all American family, we headed about 5 minutes out to the reef. It was great to see Paz in work mode and it was evident that all the tours he had run had helped hone his English, as he was very knowledgeable and professional. The reef was beautiful and full of colourful stunning fish, many more than what we saw in Tulum. It truly is another world down there and I often felt like I was in the film ‘Nemo’, especially when we saw two beautiful Manta Rays. Later that day, tired from the swim, tequila hangover and midday heat we headed back for a siesta – it’s tough being on holiday!
That afternoon Paz took us to the 7 Bocas cenote near his home, which translates to ‘7 mouths’, the “mouths” being the openings to the underwater caves that join together. It was late afternoon, the place was empty and we had our own personal guide (Paz) to show us around so we grabbed some masks and made our way into the clear fresh water. When we got in Paz showed us around the many caverns, pointing out how deep they ran and showing us how to dive safely below the surface by holding hands. As there are many low ceilings and stalactites there is real need to be careful not to bump your head as you rise to the surface of the water, which is 26 metres deep!
After the cenote, it was back to Paz’s place in the jungle where we were treated to an amazing home cooked Mahi Mahi ceviche and Lou’s famous mango guacamole, which were both delicious and so fresh. The food is light and lovely in Mexico and I felt better for not eating a lot of meat or bread over the time we were there.
The next few days we stayed in a gorgeous little hostel just about 5 minutes drive out of town called La Petit France, run by our French host Vincent Bodinier. The place is very private, quiet and well equipped with a kitchenette and access to pushbikes, which made getting into town easy. As it got really hot during the day we waited until late afternoon and rode down to the main dock where over the weekend an annual fishing tournament was being held. The tournament is very popular amongst the locals and also avid tourist fishermen from the States, who pay to take the boats out and enter the comp. When the boats returned there was a lively atmosphere on the dock where the fish were being weighed and photos taken alongside Miss Puerto Morelos complete with her beauty pageant sash, who was there to congratulate them on their catch. I have to say I found it slightly odd that a beauty queen would be at this type of ceremony so in my head I renamed her Senorita Pescado (Miss Fish) 2011.
Later that evening once all the activity had died down on the dock, the locals congregated in the main square where there was a makeshift boxing ring set up for a demonstration from the young local boxers. It was a warm balmy evening and it was great to see the community getting together and cheering the kids on so we grabbed a couple of longnecks and joined in.
Our last day in Puerto was much like the others and pretty chilled out. We went for a swim, Lou gave me a wonderful Thai yoga massage and of course we ate and drank! That evening we got together with Lou and Paz and went to our favourite local eatery La Pescado just around the corner from the dock. As the fishing tournament was on the town was rife with large fresh fish and we decided to share a whole one, which Paz selected for us. It was a meal fit for royalty and of course we washed them down with Ojo Rojos!
We had a wonderful time in Puerto Morelos and felt very relaxed and at home here despite the difference to the way we live back in Sydney. I could easily consider living here for a few months at a time! Mucho Tranquilo! A huge thanks to Lou and Paz for showing us around and being wonderful hosts! We will miss you guys and Quintana Rooooo!!