Isla Mujeres Scholarship Program

What it is:

High School is not free in Mexico. The cost is approximately $50 per month and on an island where the average daily wage is $8, this can be a huge strain for some families.
We have matched up people who travel frequently to the island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, (Islaholics) with students on the island to provide financial assistance for high school and college expenses. Many of our students not only excel, but have gone further with their education than they ever dreamed possible.
As sponsors, we are proud to help such deserving students and watch them succeed. The relationships that are formed between the sponsor family and the student family result an enhanced cultural understanding and a rewarding friendship.

From Maggie of La Gloria English School:

“Gabriela, David and Felipe are three high school students on Isla Mujeres who have been recipients of scholarship funds.  They are all graduating in June and are looking forward to next year.  They all want to go to college in Valladolid – about 2 hrs from Cancun in the Yucatan.  Gaby wants to go into “Education Science”, Felipe would like to study Communication Arts and David would like to study Tourism Administration (business Admin?).   All 3 seem motivated and are extremely hopeful that they will be able to continue their studies.

Here is what they need:
On Wednesday – they will need to pay the initial registration of $1200 pesos ($100) each to get themselves enrolled.  They are hoping they will get help with this, but I have told them to assume they will have to find the money themselves.  I said I would ask you for it, but not to count on it.

When classes start in August, it will cost them about $200 USD per month for registrations, tuition (they are separate here!) and living quarters.  On top of that will be all the living expenses including food, which they think their parents, can, help them with.”

I co-sponsor Alejandra who is going to university in Merida. I met her and her family last month while I was on Isla Mujeres.

One interesting thing that I learned about most Mexican university programs like the one that Alejandra is attending is that it is a strict 4 year program. There is no stopping in the middle of it. If a student drops then later wants to complete the program they must start from the beginning. This is very different from the USA college system where many students take much longer than 4 years to complete their  studies to receive a degree.

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”

at Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres

Things that make me go “hmm…”

Isla Mujeres holiday 12/29 – 1/15

This was a very different vacation for me. We took two trips to Cancun to get stuff for the apartment and the weather pretty much sucked most of the time. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to sit on the beach and soak up the sun. I can do that for 8 hours a day, day after day. Well not so this trip. I can count on one hand the number of really good beach days over the last  16 days that I spent on the island. Even some days when the sky was blue the wind was too fierce to go to the beach. 

For the Isleanos there was  hope that this holiday would be the high, high season to make up some for the previous really slow months. I have spent the holidays on Isla for the last six years and have never had this kind of cold weather long-term or seen it so quiet. 

There  have been very few daytrippers coming over from Cancun the last several days. Golf carts and motos are sitting unrented, restaurants and bars are suffering from lack of business, especially those along the waterfront on Medina. 
I leave tomorrow as the next cold front moves in. For a lot of visitors this is their once a year trip to Isla and they won’t be back until next year. Unfortunately some may write off Isla and not return at all after their experience. I will be back maybe as soon as March and then a couple more time this year. I am one of the lucky ones. 

Updated 1/15: 

True story… I shared a van to the airport with a couple who stayed at Privilege Aluxes. This was their first trip to Isla. They said they enjoyed themselves and did not have a bad meal or poor service anywhere. They asked me a lot of questions about Isla. When I asked them if they would return to Isla they said probably not since they didn’t feel the whole island vibe because the weather was so cold. They “didn’t get” the island so I didn’t try to persuade them otherwise to return.

Things I did that I don’t usually do: 

  • Wear long pants out to dinner
  • Wear a long sleeve sweatshirt out to dinner and during the day while driving around in the golf cart
  • Shop in Cancun and the hated Walmart twice, Telebodego and Chedarui
  • Eat breakfast in several mornings. I usually love to go eat breakfast out but I cooked eggs and bacon and had toast or bagels several mornings

Things I didn’t do that I usually do: 

  • Spend every day at the beach
  • Spend a day or two at Villa Vera enjoying the pool
  • Eat dinner out every night. We ate home cooked meals and leftovers several nights

This was sunset yesterday 1/13. It was gorgeous.

Oh man what a day

Denise and I took the 11:30 ferry to Puerto Juarez  today to go shopping for our apartment. We called Adriana, a taxi driver that Denise has used before on recommendation of our friends Jeri and Steve of La Vida Dulce. The going rate of private taxi service is $10 US per hour. First was toTelebodega to look for a TV, fan, a futon or couch and misc. stuff. We spent a ton of time there sitting on almost every futon and couch. We decided on a tv but at the last minute after our ticket was written up we backed out on the Tv deciding we really don’t watch enough TV on the island to warrant buying a 32″.

Next we went to lunch at Pescadora y Cockteleria Coyote a very local’s seafood place in a colonia. Delicious camarones of three varieties were ordered by us. Denise and I were the only gringos there out of at least 30 tables of families and working class people.

Next we went to Chedaraui were we purchased many more times. Finally we went to (yikes) Walmart and spent a couple of hours there. We finally got to Gran Puerto and took the 9:30PM back to Isla.

What a long but productive day purchasing most of the items on our list.