“So, you’re from Wisconsin?” The woman queried, puzzled.
“No, no, I live in Oregon. I said Milwaukie Oregon.” Jackie Conlon replied, a tiny bit frustrated that no one seemed to grasp the concept of a city named Milwaukee that was actually located in Oregon, not in Wisconsin. True, Milwaukie Oregon was home to only about 22,000 people while Milwaukee Wisconsin held about 600,000 inhabitants, so one was definitely more famous than the other, but neither city could be considered as “paradise.”
|1993 Na Balam Hotel view|
Jackie first discovered her version of paradise in 1993. She was looking for a new adventure, a new place to relax after a strenuous six-months of commuting between Oregon and Colorado for her job in telecommunications. She was tired of the Mazatlan – Puerto Vallarta area, and suggested to her travel agent that she was ready for something new: maybe Belize. “Un-uh! No, a woman traveling alone in Belize is not a good idea,” the agent said. “I think you would like the Playa del Carmen or the Yucatan area of Mexico a lot more.”
|1993 El Presidente Hotel damaged by hurricane|
So her first trip to the Caribbean side of Mexico included two nights in Cancun, then ten days in Playa del Carmen, and another ten days on Isla. Unfortunately her first visit to Isla Mujeres included breaking her toe on arrival, limiting her island experiences to hotel, beach, and restaurant. However, the turquoise water, soft white sand, and charming locals hooked her on the island. In the next twenty-one years she returned time and again to her island paradise, bringing family members and friends to share the experience.
|1996 Garrafon Park|
Now a confirmed Islahólico– a true fan of Isla Mujeres – Jackie is a longtime member of the Isla Mujeres Scholarship Group. The group formed in 2005 with a goal of providing financial assistance to qualified students who wanted to continue on to college or university. Jackie told me that this is a personally satisfying venture, one that gives her close contact with the students and their families. She can see how her monthly contributions are improving the life of the student and of the student’s family. Whenever one of the students graduates, she is happy to sign up to assist another one for the four or more years needed to complete their education.
|Bunch of youngsters|
Jackie is also an avid supporter of local businesses, and enjoys promoting them. She created a FaceBook page for a local restaurant, to help them market their business. And if you happen to be her personal FaceBook friend you will see a variety of “food porn” photographs, promoting various local restaurants, but she confesses, until very recently she had never tried the wonderfully decadent Mexican specialty – marquesitas. Marquesitas are the crepe-like batter confections that are cooked on a large pan, filled with sliced bananas, and chocolate sundae sauce, then rolled into a tube-shape and handed to you with a small paper serviette wrapped around one end. Heavenly!
|2005 October, high seas before Hurricane Wilma|
Even though Milwaukie Oregon may not be a tropical paradise, Jackie has discovered her own paradise here on Isla Mujeres.
She is a big-hearted addition to the island.
Lawrie & Lynda
All of the photos are from Jackie Conlon’s collection
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