Wednesday, February 21st
Today we are to dive in the morning, and finally have the afternoon free to explore the island. When we arrive at the dive shop, they inform us that we are going to dive on the mainland (Playa del Carmen) today. I inform them that I wish to dive Cozumel and Playa is not an option. They reshuffle everything and put us on a boat with 3 absolute newbie divers and a diver that was certified 25 years ago. They are all over 60 years of age.
Despite this setback, we do get to dive one of the “must do” locations – Santa Rosa Wall, which is a let-down in my eyes. Hurricanes must have ripped through there as there is a lot of damage and dead coral. The 2nd dive is La Francesca Reef, which is shallow but has lots to see, including grouper and a southern sting ray. Yippee!!!
Steph and I decide we will rent a car for a couple of days and head out to a local business to do so. We ride away in a VW bug convertible, which is very cute but does not drive too smoothly. Stephanie is driving as the car is a standard transmission so I get to see the sites.
We circle the island, first heading south and then coming back into the main town of St. Miguel. We have a free lunch at Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club, so we take advantage of that as well as the free horseback riding at the same place. Stephanie is on Yuri and I am given Sandoonie to ride. We ride for about 30 minutes – not long enough to hurt, but long enough that we were ready to get off the horses. On our ride, our guide points out a papaya tree and agave – the plant tequila is made from.
We continue our drive around the coast of Cozumel and see signs for a Turtle Egg Laying beach (not in season). A little further along the coast is a great stretch of beach that was obviously coral reef at one point. There are pieces of almost-fossilized brain coral laying on the ground, as the surf beats against the shore.
We finish off the drive finding where the ruins are so that we can head there tomorrow.
Thursday, February 22nd
Diving in the morning again and this time it’s the dive of the entire trip – Punta Sur!!! A challenging dive as it is deep and the currents can sometimes be very strong. We lucked out and there was very little current at this location. The coral formations were beautiful and we ran into a sea turtle who was under the impression that a photo shoot was going on – good thing, because there were 3 photographers on the dive!!!
The second dive of the day took us back to Paradise Reef for the THIRD time!! Good god, enough is enough!!! Two seahorses were seen this time (the main reason for diving this reef) as well as grouper, a moray eel and a school of Horse-Eyed Jacks.
After diving was over, we got in the VW convertible and headed off to the ruins. After the gate attendant explained that it was a $10 entry fee, a 15 minute drive to the parking lot and then a 1 hour hike into the ruins, I wimped out. It was 30°C, very humid, and I just wasn’t going to be walking 2 hours in the burning sun. So then we sidetracked to the Tequila Museum – good choice!!!
For the same $10 we each got 2 margaritas and a sample of each type of tequila the company made, as well as a talk on the history of tequila, how it is made and what actually makes tequila “legal” as not all tequila-type drinks are legally tequila!!
After that tasty trip, we spent a couple of hours at Playa Morenas, a beach on the eastern shore – where there is a lot of surf. There were people with boogie boards trying to surf the waves with not much success, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves anyway.
Friday, February 23rd
One last day of diving – and this time it’s with others who are also leaving tomorrow. The divemaster is playing videographeras well and we do two great dives on Colombia Deep and Colombia Shallow. We realize at the end of these dives that we have been blessed with seeing at least one turtle each day, 2 nurse sharks, 3 sea horses, and general excellent reefs.
Steph decides to head to the beach for a little while after diving, and I take a taxi back to the hotel to clean up, catch up on email, and do some shopping. Steph and I meet in time for supper and head to a well-mentioned seafood restaurant outside of the downtown area. We order the seafood platter for two. The food is OK, but I find that one of the two shrimp items is a bit rubbery and I’m not crazy about the tomato sauces on 2 of the 3 fish filet options. But the pina colada was AWESOME!!!