July 2015

I know I promised you guys this post would be up already but between packing for a new trip and, let’s say life itself, I didn’t get a chance to open my computer until this precise moment. Surprising as it may seem, I’m actually glad it happened this way. If I had written it before, I would’ve probably rushed to finish so I could focus on the dozens of things I had to do.  So, yes, I’m glad I didn’t because now is the perfect moment. Now, after watching a 3 hour movie that triggered my inspiration. One of my favorite movies, actually. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. Have you guys seen it? It’s the perfect depiction of how short and unpredictable life is, and yet how beautiful and soul-enriching it can be if we just dare to live it.  If we dare to trust our instincts, to follow our passions, and to make sure we don’t live of regrets and doubts but instead of memories and achievements worth sharing. That brings me to today’s post. One of my many passions: travel! To me, travel is living guys. And I don’t mean the 5-star-first-row-Chauffer-waiting-outside type of travel but those full of adventures, homemade food and genuinely kindhearted people. The places and faces that feel like a cup of hot chocolate to the soul. Holbox, Mexico, felt exactly like that. Most of you might have never heard of this secluded island in Mexico. Neither did I until a month ago. It’s small town within a Nature Reserve called Yum Balam and the home of colorful house walls turn into magical pieces of art, 7 to 12 meter whale sharks, streets covered in the softest white sand, clear blue waters, an animal shelter called Refugio Holbox, and, last but not least, Posada Mawimbi…the beautiful 11-bedroom boutique hotel I had the pleasure of staying at.  From the minute I arrived in Holbox, was welcomed by a dozen yellow golf carts with signs that read “Taxi” and realized I was surrounded by local people instead of tourists, I knew this trip was off to an wonderful start. 5 minutes down a sandy road was Posada Mawimbi. One of the first hotels built in Holbox and one of the only ones that still treasures and respects nature to such an extend that its architecture and interior design screams nature preservation.  Built by Carmello and Ornella, a globetrotting couple that visited Holbox 21 years ago as tourists and 4 years later decided to settle there, Posada Mawimbi is a beach front paradise carefully designed using products and techniques of the ancient Mayan culture. Only two blocks away from town, Holbox, this little eco hotel blew me away the minute we walked through its doors and were welcomed by neon color hammocks among the palm trees, swing beds on the beach, and a bedroom with a balcony big enough to fit a hammock and a breakfast area for two (rustic wood table and chairs) yet small enough to give it its coziness, and a bar & restaurant that showed every bright color in the Mayan culture. Absolutely stunning! Raw details in every corner, vegetarian and vegan food options, and the most delicious blueberry daiquiris. Heaven!

Let’s start with the basics. How did I end up in Holbox, Mexico? Well, it’s not as simple as you would imagine but it’s very much worth it! In summary, a friend of mine and I flew from Miami to Cancun, rented a car near the airport and drove for about 3.5 hours from Cancun to Chiquila. Even though the drive was a bit long, the road we drove through was astonishing. Green trees and blue skies guiding our way the whole time! From Chiquila, we took a 20-minute ferry to Holbox, and from there we took one of the yellow golf cart taxis to the hotel.

Our first day was pretty relaxing. We unpacked, headed to the restaurant to enjoy some veggie fajitas and then fell asleep on a swing bed on the beach. The breeze was warm and salty, the water was clear blue and the sand as soft as butter. I have never seen something like that! Not even in Bahamas! At night we decided to walk to town, visit some shops (almost all sell eco-friendly handmade products!) and then decided to try the restaurant “Isla del Colibri”. I ordered a green juice and the vegetarian rice (rice, spinach, carrots, apples and plantains), which was to die for!

Day 2 started with a delicious breakfast at Mawimbi. Oatmeal, fresh pineapple juice, cappuccino with soy milk, and bread with homemade papaya jelly. All this served on beautiful Mexican tableware, while sitting next to the ocean and sinking our feet on the sand. After breakfast we decided to skip the beach and head to the animal shelter everyone at the hotel had been talking about, Refugio Holbox. To my surprise, the shelter was so much more than I expected. Founded by a hotel owner who sold her property and now dedicates her time to saving animals, Refugio Holbox has about 22 rescued dogs, 40 cats, 4 birds and 4 raccoons! How incredible is that?! For all animal lovers, this place is seriously a must! If any of you end up visiting it, make sure you spend some time playing with the baby raccoons, feeding Benancio cookies (oldest raccoon at shelter), taking the dogs for a walk, or talking with the vet about adoption and volunteer opportunities. They sure need all the help they can get! (To read more about the shelter and adoption options, please visit their Facebook site.)

Day 3 was something out of this world! We woke up at 6 am, did a 30-min yoga session on the beach, had breakfast and then headed out to meet our captain and tour guide to go swim with a beautiful 7 meter whale shark!!  The tour started at 7am. We all met at the nearest boat docking area (2 blocks away from Hotel) and after a 40-60 minute boat ride we found ourselves right next to the biggest animal I’ve seen in these 27 years of mine! The water was extremely calm, the sun was shining bright, and dozens of jellyfishes were swimming next to the whale shark. It was like a scene taken out of a movie. Unforgettable! Even though our boat was carrying 8 people, only 2 at a time were allowed to swim with the whale shark, none of us were allowed to touch it, and everyone was required to use eco-friendly biodegradable sunblock ONLY. I’m not going to lie, all those rules (Mexican federal law) put a HUGE smile on my face because they show how far Mexico goes to protect nature and its animals. There are honestly no words to describe this experience so I hope the pictures and videos do it justice! J From there, the captain took us to an island within Yum Balam to rest, swim in clear blue waters with fishes that looked like baby sharks, enjoy a ceviche the captain prepared for everyone on the boat (he was kind enough to make me a sandwich with mustard and tomato!), and around 3pm we headed back to Holbox.

Day 4 was our last day so we woke up early to have a delicious breakfast at the hotel, say goodbye to Onnie and all the staff, and head back to Chiquila to pick up our car to drive to Cancun. On the way we made a quick stop in Solferino to pay the Millennium Tree a visit. This tree is over 1000 years old, 35 meters tall and full of an indescribable energy. Very much worth the stop!

Things to know about Mawimbi:

-AMAZING vegetarian and vegan dishes. My faves: veggie tacos and fajitas, lime soup, and the potato empanadas. And of course, the blueberry daiquiri!

-Good WiFi

-DOG FRIENDLY!!! But you must let them know in advance

-Organic shampoo, soap and conditioner in bathroom J

-Ask for a room with a view

Things to know about Holbox:-Ferry from Chiquila to Holbox = Mx 80 (about US$5)

-Taxi from Ferry to Hotel= Mx 20 (about $1.3)

-Whale Shark tour = Mx 1200 (about US$80)

-Every store sells eco-friendly products and biodegradable sunblock

-Everyone lives on flip-flops or barefoot due to the sandy streets so ladies, pack light!

-Whale Shark tour contact: Captain Clemente Alcocer (baronholbox@hotmail.com or 9841006651)

-Refugio Holbox contact: Morelia Montes (moremontesb@gmail.com)

-There’s only one ATM in town and sometimes it runs out of money so TAKE CASH!!!

-Safest island on earth! We enjoyed long walks pass midnight!

If you are planning on visiting Mawimbi, mention "WaterThruSkin" for a special discount! ;) .