Day Five – Isla De Mujeres
9:00 a.m. – The majority of the team is up and at em’ in the buffet having breakfast and preparing for a jam-packed day. We are schedule to meet in the lobby at 10:00 a.m. and walk together as a group to the ferry that will take us to the Isla Isla De Mujeres.
10:30 a.m. – We were met at the ferry by the Lagartos coaching staff and have boarded the boat on our way to the island. Everyone keeps saying that the ride will take about 15 minutes.
11:30 a.m. – 15 minutes, yeah right. That took about an hour, but we made it. The Isla De Mujeres, island of women in English, is a truly unique place. The island itself is only about one mile wide, but it is seven miles long.
A majority of the group decided to take the first boat out to the reef and par-take in some snorkeling. The rest stayed on the beach to swim, sun-bath, and take in the scenery. The white sand on the beaches in Mexico is spectacular. No matter how hot it gets, the sand never gets too unbearable for your feet. Jeffrey Dubose decided it would be fun to wrestle in the sand, taking on Cody Thomson. Dubose battled, but eventually got pinned. A good battle considering he was giving up about 50 pounds. Dubose came out of the match looking like a more white than even me after becoming covered from heat-to-toe in sand. Muresuk Mena, being a jack of all trades, put his athleticism on display when he joined in on a game of beach soccer.
Once the first snorkeling boat got back, it was our turn to give it a try. Having Jeffrey Dubose with us made the experience that much better. The first time the group got close to some tropical fish, we heard a scream coming from Dubose’s snorkel, upon which he immediately tried to grab on to Dan Opitz and coach Ryan Galindo. It would be pretty safe to say that it was the closest Jeffrey has ever been to a live fish. The current took us an awesome route and we able to see some spectacular colors.
We arrived back at the beach and it was time for lunch. A buffet was set up with a large assortment of fish, chicken, pasta, and other various Mexican dishes. I have eaten in more buffets within the last five days than I have in the last five years.
2:00 p.m. - Marty Schmitz, Matt Miller, Dan Opitz, and I decided to rent a golf cart and tour the rest of the island for the last two hours of our stay. Golf carts are the preferred means of transportation on the small land mass, as there are hundreds of them zipping around the streets throughout the day. Our plan was to make it to the far end of the island and back, taking the not so traveled routes and stopping at places we found unique.
The section of the island closest to our beach was the downtown and market region of the island. Although everything is on a smaller scale on Isla De Mujeres, one can literally go from the countryside, to the suburbs, to the heart of the city while there. We stopped in the market to shop around and pick up souvenirs on our way back. This is where the true salesmen of the group shine because Mexican shop owners love to barter. Elliot Herdina made quite the fashion statement returning to the beach, arriving with his hair braided in rows and topped off black and yellow beads put in on the ends.
One place we stopped along the way was at a little baseball stadium with not a speck of grass to be seen anywhere. Marty Schmitz thought he was Benny the Jet and I got a good picture of the guys on the sandlot.
We made it to the point and decided to sit down at a restaurant and take in the scenery for a while. The elevation on this end of the isle is much higher and cliffs surround the point. Although it was hot, we were kept cool by sea breeze whipping over the cliffs. We met up with Dane Mellgren and Colby Peterson there and after a short conversation decided to head back.
The team’s doctor Gary Fetzer, his wife Renae, and two sons Nolan and Brady, and Troy Banse decided to take part in the Dolphin Adventure while on the far end. The group was able to swim and pet the dolphins, take belly rides, get pushed on a boogie board, and even receive a dolphin kiss.
Both our cart and Colby and Dane’s decided to take a different route back. I’m glad we did because of some of the houses we were able to see along the coast. It is crazy because one lot can have on it a tiny concrete shack, while right next to it is a multi-million dollar home. One house was literally designed as a sea shell. Google it, you’ll find it. The separation of wealth is unreal, but no matter what, whomever we yelled hola! to and waved, we always got a friendly wave and hello in return. Even in what would be considered the run down areas of the island, the people were always smiling and friendly.
That Gustavus grapevine even exists Mexico because as we met members of our group on the ride, we started hearing rumors of an incident involving the Alec Saunders, Brad Kruckeberg, Tom Einberger, and Todd Kremmin cart. To assure everyone reading, all four passengers are perfectly fine. Saunders, who apparently just watched the movie Fast Five and thought he was Vin Diesel, attempted too tight of a turn, putting the cart on its side and spilling its riders. In typical digital age fashion, Alex Carpenter went running to them with water while Turner Johnson came running with the camera. The only thing hurt was probably Saunders’ ego, but he quickly got over it after the team had its laugh.
4:30 p.m. – To make the ride go quicker, the ferry operators set up games and contests for the travelers on the top deck of the boat. The highlight was Cheeseburger doing his best Demi Moore impersonation in front of the Lagartos coaches. I thought they were all going to have a heart attack from laughing so hard, but Cheese was a good sport and had a lot of fun with it.
5:05 p.m. – We arrived back on the mainland and walked the beach back to our hotel. The guys are on their own time for the night as we are set to take off at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
6:35 p.m. – I decided to walk off campus to get a bite to eat for my last night in Mexico. I just couldn’t eat the buffet again. My waiter at the restaurant told me about a guy from Minnesota who he chatted with for over an hour with earlier in the week. The topic of their conversation – baseball. I chatted some hardball with the man and asked him about Fernando Valenzuela. All I really knew about Fernando was that he was the pride of Mexico in the 1970’s when he was making a solid run on the hill.. The waiter said that he was considered a hero at that time and is still adored by the people throughout the country. Despite us speaking different languages, it is amazing what we could both comprehend when the conversation because the conversation pertained to sport.
9:30 p.m. – After a long day, and an even longer stay, I am officially burnt out. Lame I know. The Barcelona vs. Manchester United highlights are on repeat on every Mexican sports station. Yesterday before we left for the game, there weren’t a lot of people in the pool because all the soccer fans were in the lobby watching the match. Congrats to Barcelona on taking the Champions League Title.
Also, a special congrats to the Gustavus Adolphus College graduating class of 2011. The team wants to wish their former teammates good luck in the future. Its been a roller coaster week for me. First, seeing my boss open an exciting new chapter in his life, while at the same time bringing to a close a long and historic one. Now, I am saying goodbye to a group of teammates who I am cut from the same cloth, and who I consider to be some of my best friends. One thing has been very apparent in my conversations with Peter Nyhus on this trip, and that is the impact that Gustavus has made on him and his life. Graduates, you will always have Gustavus, and you will always be Gusties – don’t forget that.