Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock
VW Bug – a Mexican Vocho  
Bugs!  They are everywhere on the island; painted in an array of fun colours the quirky Vochos, the Volkswagen Beetles, are affordable for basic transportation, work vehicles, and occasionally trucks.  
Introduced to Mexico March 1954, sixty-two years ago this month, the aging collection of the older style Vochos have a faithful following.  

Freddy Medina & Chuck Watt pushing a Vocho to gas station

From 1961 when the first Vochos were assembled in Mexico, until the end of the production of this body-style in 2003, over two million were made in Mexico.  

By 1978 Vochos made in Mexico were being exported back to Germany and Europe.  At one time over one hundred thousand two-door Vochos were used as taxis in Mexico City.  

In recent years they have been replaced by the more convenient four-door Nissan Tsuru.

Perla’s Vocho – Paquita
Probably one of the most visible Vochos on Isla Mujeres is owned by Leslie Woodbridge, or as she says, owned by her large Labrador, Perla.  

The red and black, convertible-topped car, named Paquita, usually sits on the street near the Comex paint store, waiting for Leslie and Perla to take her out for a ride.  Apparently Paquita loves to go fast, and hates topes, stalling and acting cranky when forced to slow down.  The rearview mirror has an annoying habit of falling off and landing in Leslie’s lap.  Paquitais getting on in years; she is allowed to be eccentric.

Rob Herrin and Michelle Butler – road trip in Vocho

Although she was named by Leslie Woodbridge, Paquita previously belong to part-time islanders Rob Herrin and Michelle Butler.  During the period that they owned the little Vocho, they once drove her on a nine-hour adventure to Valladolid via the backroads, stopping along the way to swim in the quiet, relatively unknown cenotes and eat in the little family-owned cafés.  Rob says he still misses Paquita’s quirky personality.

David Daniel and Ocho Vocho

Diane and David Daniel own a relatively young Vocho, built in 1998.  The silver-coloured car is named Ocho Vocho, so I’m going out on a limb here and am guessing this one is a male.  As with everything metal eventually things rust and corrode.  The driver’s side window hand crank frequently falls off; the securing pin has rusted through.  The gas gauge is intermittent, leaving the driver to guess at how much fuel might be in the tank.  Ocho Vocho’s resident gecko occasionally rides on the hood of the car, the wind blowing in its face, squeaking:  Yahoo!  What a ride!

Adrian with Sweet Lips

And then there is Sweet Lips!  She allows Adrian and Stacey Ralph to drive her when it suits her.  Being a young-at-heart, older woman Sweet Lips has a few missing, and not quite original parts.  There is only one windshield wiper, and a side window that was until very recently was a plastic laundry bag duct taped to the car.  

To roll up the other window pliers are required, and the left turn signal works sporadically despite numerous new bulbs and fuses.  When the bottom rusted away and the car battery dragged on the topes a piece of plywood was pressed into service as a new floor.  The most recent indignity for this aging temptress occurred when her steering wheel ceased functioning, and she was taken to a car doctor for a checkup.  Sweet Lips will be kicking up her heels for a few more fun-filled years.


Other island Vochos are put to use as public address vehicles, broadcasting daily supermarket specials, or community information.  

Our friend, Ivan Acevedo, uses his Vocho for carting around the various bits and pieces of equipment required for cleaning swimming pools.  

And then there are the first-cousins to the VW Beetles, the dune buggies.  They are fiberglass bodies, placed onto a Vocho platform.  

As with all Beetles, the dune buggies are prone to rust, but the folks that own them love ‘em anyway. 

Francisco Avalos’s dune buggy truck

With quirky personalities and aging bodies the tough little cars, affectionately known by our generation as VW Bugs, are slowly disappearing from history.  

The newer sleeker version will find its own place in our collective memories.

Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie

When the gas station was white – two white VW Bugs


5 Replies to “Colourful Bugs! The Vochos of Isla”

  1. I love the Vochos of Isla! Paquita used to be my Vocho before I sold her to Leslie. She was so fun to cruise around in. We even took her on a 9 hour road trip to Valladolid via the backroads, stopping along the way to dip in some poorly marked cenotes and little eateries along the way. I miss her. 😦


  2. Awesome Rob. Thanks for the info. I'll add it to the story. Do you have a photo of your trip off island I could add as well? Cheers Lynda PM me on Facebook and I will give you my email address for the photo.


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