Cultural Differences on the Streets of Isla
~ By Gloria
The streets of Isla Mujeres are filled with various sounds day and night, and it’s more than just your average city car traffic. A bell, a song or a chant are the sounds you hear of locals going around the island selling water, bread, cheese, tamales and more. At first it seemed strange, but the sounds soon become a normal part of everyday life here. One of the most notable characters is a man that walks with a basket of cheese on his head and repeats in a loud deep voice ‘QUESO OAXACA’ sounds like (KAYYY SO WA KA KA). The man that sells tamales repeats a chant that sounds like he is saying ‘milk tea… honey’, even though he is definitely not speaking English nor is he selling milk tea or honey.
The streets of Isla are layered with colourful houses and unique buildings with creative designs. There’s even a house shaped like an actual conch shell. It’s much more diverse and aesthetically pleasing to the eye compared to the dull uniformity of suburban homes. I find it very enjoyable to walk the streets observing the beautiful Spanish architecture and individuality of each home. Another noticeable cultural difference on Isla is the openness of the community. Most people leave their doors open all day long and often spend lots of time sitting outside on their porch. Everyone stops to greet each other to say hello, creating and friendly atmosphere.
Unlike most developed urban areas, there are almost no chain restaurants in Isla. It’s great because it provides an easy way to support local businesses which puts money back into the community and not into corporations. The food in non-chain restaurants also tends to be fresher, less processed and healthier. Isla has a huge variety of restaurants for being such a small place and has many options to choose from. Not only is the island a tropical paradise, it holds a unique culture with a small town feel making it an amazing place to live in.