Thursday January 2, 2014
One of the reasons Matt and I had been looking most forward to getting to Isla Mujeres, was the opportunity for a trip to Cancun. It only sits four miles from Isla, and word was, they had such luxurious shopping centers as Walmart and Home Depot. We were so excited about the shopping in this city, and so sure of what it would offer us, that this was supposed to be our big stockpiling location should we have been heading straight to the Bahamas. Since, you know, you can barely find a variety of food there and it’s ridiculously expensive when you do. In my head were visions of stocking up on boxed wine with flavors of actual Cabernet or Merlot instead of ‘vino tinto’, and other things like cheddar cheese and Skittles. Matt was looking forward to getting some must have repair items for the boat like caulk and a drill based pump for our oil. We were both quite excited for this trip.
Waiting for all the holiday hubbub to die down, we thought today would be the best day to do our wandering around the large and hopefully modern and Americanized city. Assuming we would need the full day to do our shopping, we hopped on the 9:00 ferry for the 20 minute ride over. I had research with what little internet I had in the anchorage where these two main stops of our were, and what buses we needed to take to get there. Being the (normally) logical person that I am, I suggested that we hit up Home Depot first since I planned on fully stocking our two backpacks with every kind of goody from Walmart that I hadn’t set my eyes on for the past four months. According to the vague information I was able to scribble down from my computer, we were to go to a place called Plaza de Americas, and Home Depot was only one block south from there.
We found the Plaza without issue, and with the compass on Matt’s watch, began wandering in a southern route from there. We assumed that the bright orange sign would jump out at us, but no matter how many blocks we walked, there was nothing in site.After 30 minutes of finding nothing, and becoming quite sweaty in the process, I finally broke down and asked a gardener maintaining the hedges of one of the office buildings where the Home Depot was. Surely he would know, it was probably one stop shopping for all his gardening needs. Then I realized one more problem. I knew enough to know how to ask for directions, but I wasn’t prepared to receive a decipherable answer. A slew of words that I had not mastered yet were thrown at me, and when Matt turned to me, expectantly waiting for me to tell him where we should turn, I pointed in the same direction the gardener just pointed me in. That much I could decipher.
Getting across the street there were once more no orange buildings in sight, and we were at a dead end. Even though I was planning on following pointed fingers until I got there if that’s what it took, I had a happy surprise when I asked the next gentleman I ran across for directions. He spoke perfect English. Then came the bad news. The Home Depot we were looking for had moved a few years back, it’s old location now being turned into a casino. One that we had in fact circled twice. The new location was about 4 miles way. Continuing with his hospitality, this man flagged down a cap for us, gave the driver specific directions on where to take us, and talked him down to the local rate instead of the one they probably tried to squeeze out of tourist. We were very thankful to find him.
Running in the door, ready to fill up our basket, everything looked just like the Home Depot that we became so familiar with in St. Augustine, ridding our bikes there almost every other day. Pulling our our list, we got to work. First up, 3M 4200. Hmm, nope, they didn’t have it. 5200? Didn’t carry that either. Luckily they had Sikaflex 1A which would do the job Matt needed it for up in the anchor locker. Ok, next item, a drill pump so we can change our oil. Nope, nothing. No kind of backup for that one either. Master brand combination lock? Nope. In the end we left with only two things on our list, the Sikaflex and a small package of latex gloves, the rest having to wait until we make it to Florida and it’s much better stocked stores. Running next door to an AutoZone, I talked Matt into getting a manual pump for our oil for $10. I’m pretty sure that stuff has to be changed before we dare crossing the 350 miles to Key West.
Even though Home Depot was a little bit of a letdown, our next stop wasn’t. How could it be? We found McDonald’s, and no matter where you fine one in the world, you can always count on a Big Mac at your disposal. The fries were just as good as I remembered them, but strangely enough, I couldn’t eat all of them. Or my sandwich. Or even finish my 16 oz drink. What would have normally taken me less than 10 minutes to eat in my previous life was now taking me 30 minutes just to get a little more than half. Finally conceding, I shoved the rest toward Matt, the garbage disposal that can finish any kind of extra food whether he’s hungry or not.
Hopping on one more bus, we were dropped off in front of Walmart, only to come across the same problem we had at Home Depot. The sign out front was the same as back home in the States. The contents inside, were not. Although it was a much larger store than we’re used to shopping at back in Isla, it pretty much contained the same items. Except with a lot more toys. I kid you not, we ended up walking out with ten items. Here are just a few of the things we were expecting to find but could not: Cat litter (of any kind), upholstery cleaner, Corelle coffee mugs (we’re down two from the beginning of the trip, apparently they’re not completely shatter proof), Miracle Whip, boxed wine, and even pretzels. Dejected, I grabbed a small bag of Skittles in the check out lane to satisfy at least one craving, and we taxied back to the ferry dock where we arrived about four hours earlier than expected and our backpacks limply hanging at our sides. Looks like we’ve just added a few more things to our list of things to pick up in Florida.