Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Then and Now

As I've said many times, before I moved here permanently in 2003, I had been coming here as a tourist for 13 years. In that amount of time, one sees a lot of changes. Some for the good, some for the bad. Let's do some comparison.

There used to be a staircase that led out of the side of the square. On the ocean side. It was almost directly across from what is now Bamboo Too. This picture was taken standing at the top of those stairs, looking toward the grocery store.

I really miss that old town square. Foolish, foolish, needless renovation of it. That staircase where I was above no longer exists. Here's the current state of the square taken in the same space.

Here I was standing in the middle of the square, facing the Palacio. (duh!)

Except for its' color, the building has hardly changed at all. The landscaping sure has though.

Over by the same staircase, I captured this picture of the Church.

Same angle now. Notice the addition of the Madonna on top. I'll be talking about her in another post.

Heading to North Beach. I showed you this view the other day, only it was a dirt street and facing the other way.

After it got the cobblestones, not much changed. The building that serves as headquarters for SeaHawk diving now blocks the view directly to Maria del Mar. A Convention Center was put in and all the trashy buildings were taken out and that space is now occupied by Cabanas del Prado.

Here we are at the old bridge that used to cross over to the Avalon. Except it was a very ruined El Presidente back then. Hurricane Gilbert all but destroyed it and it sat abandoned for years.

The bridge in the picture above was taken out by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It was replaced with this wooden one. That in turn was half destroyed by Hurricane Wilma and then rebuilt with the addition of guardrails.

Just to the left of that bridge is a little inlet around the island that the Avalon sits upon. Several snorkel companies anchor their boats there. Notice the stick in the left of the picture.

That same stick now.

I knew when I set off to take the pictures for this post that it was going to be interesting. It was forcing me to relive a moment in time and to try to recapture it. What I did not expect was how profoundly sad it made me. Especially this next picture. It's North Beach in 1998.

The whole length of North Beach looked like that back then. And until Hurricane Wilma and the rebuilding of Cancun's beaches came along in 2005, it still basically looked the same. Except that the palm trees were bigger and there are definitely more beach chairs around.

So here's the exact same view last Sunday.

I know it is the same position for a couple of reasons. The first being that all the landmarks line up. Secondly, I enlisted the aid of one of the guys who rents beach chairs. I have known him for years and he would remember for sure where that lifeguard tower pictured above used to sit. It was totally destroyed and washed out to sea with Wilma. Together we tracked down the exact spot. It was really heartbreaking to stand there looking at the old picture I held in my hand and then looking up to see it today. Sad. Just sad.

Okay, so there you have it. Another little trip down Memory Lane to the old Isla.


Nancy said...

It's hard to do this pretty much anywhere, Wayne.

When I revisit places I knew many years ago I am always shocked, and not for the better.

One of my favorite bars here in Mazatlan (Puerto Viejo) has a ton of old pictures of Mazatlan on the walls and I just dream of getting a way back machine to visit here in the past.

I know that people in the future will make the same statements, unfortunately. The best thing we can do is to teach the children to be better stewards of the earth, of old things, and of the souls of the community (i.e. the plaza in your photos).

Babs said...


CancunCanuck said...

Wow, thanks for the blast from the past and the comparisons. Very interesting stuff. The beach is the saddest of all, hopefully nature returns some of the sand and brings back the former glory of Playa Norte. Too bad about all the greenery in the square too, it looks so cold now!

JoAnne in CT said...

That's so sad... Playa Norte was still huge in January '05 - I was just looking at some photos the other day, comparing them to what it looks like now. I wonder if it will ever come back? :-(

wayne said...

Nancy: there is a bar here that does that too. But back to only about 1939. Your last sentence was so right on! (especially about taking care of old things!)

babs: all in the name of progress

cc: i don't hold out much hope for Mother Nature to do anything. I think she is pissed about what Cancun has done to the ecosystem around here and she's letting us know it. I agree with you about the square. It is just too sterile. Like Parque Palapas in Cancun before and after.

joanne: you are right. Wilma was in October 2005. You probably had one of the last true Playa Norte vacations!

Julie Dufresne said...

Your pictures are heart-breaking. I am a new fan of your blog and I read it everyday. I came to Isla Mujeres about 7-8 years ago and had the best vacation ever. This Friday I'm coming back with my husband because I want him to discover Isla Mujeres the way I discovered it back then, and I hope we'll like it as much as I did 7 years ago.

I have a question. I read the weather broadcast everyday to make sure another storm won't hit while we're there. They announce rain or thunderstom pretty much everyday but I look at pictures from different blogs and everything seems sunny. Can you tell me how's the weather at the moment in Isla Mujeres? Is the rain short and then the sun comes back?

Keep writing and posting pics!

Mexico "Way" said...

Thanks for going out of your way to do that Wayne. Was really interesting and yes, sad about the playa but nature does what she does and Isla has taken a beating with all of the storms over the years.

wayne said...

julie: welcome to my blog! Glad you are enjoying it. I appreciate hearing that people are reading and liking it. The weather has been like August here. Hot and still. High humidity. Ocean smooth as glass. No breeze in the morning but it gets cloudier as the day wears on, the breeze picks up and the evenings have been fantastic. I check the weather every day and it says rain but we aren't seeing it!

MexicoWay: you are correct. Sad, but correct.

Julie Dufresne said...

Wayne, you're bringing happiness into my day! Thanks for the great news, I hope it says like that during my trip (June 20-28).

I can't wait to eat breakfast in the Mercado municipal like in the past and have a refreshing beer or agua de sandia while watching the sunset!

Thanks for answering me! I'll keep reading you!