The Maya Jazz Festival, 2012

The 10th annual Maya Jazz Festival is a 3 day event that starts in the last week of November. It is considered to be one of the top 10 Jazz music festivals where many  jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock, Sergio Mendes, Yellowjackets and Fourplay have performed over the years. As  there are no admission charges it is probably  the best bargain in the world of live entertainment as well. The photo above shows the stage on Mamita Beach which is located in Playa del Carmen.  All shows start around 7 pm and continue until at least  11 pm each day.

This years festival featured several jazz all stars including Wayne Shorter, Pancho Sanchez, John Scofield and Level 42. Considering the whole line-up of musicians appearing this year, Wayne Shorter is arguably the most accomplished. He is a 6 time grammy award winner, saxophonist and composer. His professional career started with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers around 1957, followed by a stint with the Miles Davis Jazz Qunintet beginning in 1964.  About 5 years later Wayne co-founded the Jazz Fusion group, Weather Report, which produced many high quality albums in diverse styles. This band finally broke-up in 1985 but Wayne has continued to record and lead groups in the jazz fusion style, winning his last grammy in 2004 for the album titled “Alegria”.

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Isla Mujeres, Mexico

The main beach and lighthouse

The main beach and lighthouse

Looking for a laid back tropical island paradise with a variety of diversions to enjoy, than look no farther than Isla Mujeres. This island is found in the Caribbean Sea only a few miles away from Cancun, one of the top destination resorts in the world. It can be reached by plane, ferry or private boat. Most visitors arrive by ferry which leaves Puerto Juarez or Cancun several times a day and takes anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes to complete the trip. The cost of the ferry is only about $3.00 per person from Puerto Juarez and cars or motorcycles can be brought along  for a few dollars more. Didn’t bring a car or motorcycle with you, no sweat; there are plenty of taxis, motor scooters, and golf carts for rent at reasonable prices. Since  the island is only 7 km long and 650 meters wide, a scooter or golf cart is the most popular mode of transportation. IMG_1697

There are a variety of hotel accommodations from budget to very expensive around the island and many restaurants. As you might expect,  seafood restaurants are the most common but international cuisine featuring Italian, French, Mediterranean, Mexican and Thai cooking are also available in other restaurants. Most retail shops are found in the downtown area along Avenue Hildago. These stores sell just about everything that is needed for a short stay from suntan lotions to equipment for snorkeling or scuba diving,

an afternoon siesta in a hammock under palm trees

an afternoon siesta in a hammock under palm trees

In addition to the islands welcoming ambiance, most people come to isla mujeres to enjoy swimming, scuba diving and  snorkeling around the  coral reefs to experience the vibrant colors of both the reefs and the tropical fish  that live in these waters which are very clear and average 78 to 82 degrees on a year round basis. One of the most popular coral reefs here is the Manchones Reef  because it can be enjoyed by all levels of divers and has an extraordinary variety of terrain, plant life and sea life.

A bar in isla mujeres business district

A bar in isla mujeres business district