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The Yucatan: Beyond The Madding Crowd
By Mike Thiel

When most vacationers think of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, they probably conjure up images of its highly publicized hub—resorty, high-rise Cancun. Or they may envision places like Cozumel, less commercialized, but still bustling with day-trippers and the daily deluge of passengers from mega-cruise ships calling there.

We wanted something more quiet, a bit different, and hopefully more Mexican for our most recent visit to the Yucatan, and we found it in two very different destinations.

While visiting Cancun a number of years ago, we took the day ferry to Isla Mujeres and were impressed by its low-key, fishing-village ambiance. This low-lying island, about six miles offshore, derived its name from the female idols and figurines found by Spanish explorers when they landed in 1517.

Tourism landed here in the 1960s, and you might say that, relative to neighboring Cancun, the island has been caught in a time-warp.

While Cancun has become very cosmopolitan, rather expensive, and, I think, not particularly relaxing, Isla Mujeres has carved out its own niche, primarily among youthful, low-budget travelers and Europeans.

Fall/Winter 1998

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