Cozumel - Post Hurricane Wilma
Cozumel Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
Cozumel is one of my favorite places. Why - I just do not know. On our very first cruise, Bill and I enjoyed our day in Coz, and had hoped to repeat memories. What we didn't think about was the after effects of the hurricane in 2005. Our Mariner of the Seas Thanksgiving cruise had been scheduled to port in Cozumel, but due to the devastation was cancelled. Taking this cruise, we were in hopes that things may be back to normal over a year later.
We were scheduled to dock around 10:00 am, but at sometime during the night, our captain and crew spotted a small boat of refugees. A rescue effort was successful, but that incident put us behind an hour or two.
Our first sign of recovery was the dock. Repairs were being done to almost all the international pier. After a year and it could still accomodate only one cruise ship. Next, we noticed the vegetation and landscaping - none. Large trees were gone. Brush piles were everywhere. Buildings sported blue tarps or no roofs at all. Some were in the midst of renovation, while others were abandoned. The town as we remembered looked vastly different. A lot of the colorful fronts were gone, and our favorite little restaurant - Kiss My Cactus - wasn't there. In its place was a t-shirt shop only about 1/2 full of product.
We decided to try our hand at snuba - like snorkeling only with an air tank in a raft, a weight belt, and close instruction from the guides. The area was located just minutes walking distance from the dock. After equipment was fitted, and an extensive instruction lesson, we were off. How different from snorkeling and more like scuba! I have been snorkeling for a few years, and I found this to be a little difficult. Getting used to going down deeper, having to equalize the pressure in your ears, and a leaking mask made for struggles right at first. After a little more practice, snuba was going better..................until the cramp in my foot. I just couldn't get the knot to release, so it was surfacing for me.
With what time we had remaining, we decided to explore the shops. It had also begun to rain. After a short taxi ride to the one of the recommended by the ship shopping areas, we settled on a restaurant (again recommended by the ship's shopping person), ate tacos and drank margaritas before visiting the shops on the way back toward the dock. One observation, before the hurricane, vendors were much more eager to "deal" on the prices, and after hurricane, pretty much the stated price was the price. My special purchase was an original design butterfly pendant from Tanya Moss, a Mexican jewelry designer. After picking up some typical souvenirs, we stopped at Senor Frogs for something cool to drink. The weather had turned very gloomy, and not many places were open later which also was a little disappointing. We were determined to make the most of our visit, so the people at Senor Frogs entertained us with balloon creations and festive songs.
After a taxi ride back to the pier, we embarked and said goodbye to Cozumel. Another time, and hopefully the merchants and the area will recover!