Arriving in Cozumel
Cozumel Travel Blog› entry 2 of 15 › view all entries
October 17th, 2009 – by: lrecht
Saturday morning finally arrived and we had to get up at pre-dawn to catch an early flight on one of my least favorite airlines, US Air. I used to have to travel a lot on America West and had a bunch of mileage left. US Air bought them and, right before we left for India on our last big trip of my sabbatical, US air zeroed out my account of about 100k miles because the never credited me for some miles. I had to argue with them over several phone calls and finally got someone helpful to reinstate the mileage which ended up being just enough to get Cindy and I to the Yucatan. The nice thing is that the flight was out of Orange County into Phoenix rather than having to trek up to LAX. The worrisome thing was that the connection in Phoenix is fairly short and we were a bit worried about missing our connection from Cancun to Cozumel.
The flight to Phoenix was short and uneventful and we made it to our Cancun flight with time to spare but nothing but coffee for breakfast. It seemed like forever before we finally took off but, once in the air, the flight wasn’t too long, about 3.5 hours. We entertained ourselves by watching I Love You Man which was stupid but funny. All of our worrying about the connection in Phoenix should have been spent on worrying about getting through the ridiculous immigration line in Cancun. A gigantic, slow moving line snaked its way up to the few immigration agents. It was as bad as a line at DisneyLand for the E ticket rides (I know they don’t use tickets anymore but those of you old enough will remember the ticket days at The Mouse which was close to the last time I suffered through that place…).
Luckily we got the green light when we pressed the Customs Button (a system we love in Mexico that makes you feel like you are gambling or on the Wheel of Fortune where you press the button and hope you don't get the red light indicating that the burly Mexican man is going to dig through your bags) and raced through the terminal. Someone directed us outside to get to the shuttle to the other terminal - friggin great, we thought for sure we were done at that point.
A few minutes later, we were ushered out onto the tarmac and towards a plane that looked exactly like the funny little square one we flew from Managua to Little Corn Island last year. Hopefully that is a sign that Cozumel will be as much fun as Little Corn was last year.
At the airport, Cindy bought tickets for the shuttle into town and I hunted around for an ATM and made the mistake of getting out 200 pesos (about $15) rather then 200 dollars worth of pesos at the ATM - apparently my espanol is “no so good”. We met a Canadian woman from Toronto on the flight who said she had an awesome time diving in Cancun as well as diving the fresh water cenotes (limestone caverns famous in the Yucatan) and was looking forward to diving here on Cozumel.
We checked in to the Hotel Flamingo (review below) which Cindy found on TripAdvisor.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Other than being a bit noisy with local partiers, we slept pretty well in a surprisingly comfy bed and woke up to a very windy, overcast morning. Breakfast is included at the Hotel Flamingo and the two really nice ladies on staff made me a really tasty omelet with potatoes, chilies and chorizo and Cindy Huevos Mexicana with onions and cilantro.
After breakfast, we decided to walk to a couple of recommended Dive Shops and see what the outlook was for diving over the next few days. Walking down the main road the sea looked pretty rough with white caps and spray shooting up onto the road from the sea wall. On the way, we stumbled on a parade that appeared to represent the cultures of the world with Mexican kids wearing different colored shirts and hats to represent the countries of the world.
Our first stop was at Deep Blue conveniently located just off the square. They seemed very nice and knowledgeable and told us that the Harbor Master closed the port today and they weren’t sure about tomorrow. The outlook hopefully improves later in the week. Next we walked a bit out of town to the Scuba Club Cozumel which is an all inclusive dive resort that Cindy’s brother-in-law recommended.
On the walk back, sensing that we were going to have a lazy day, we decided to try shopping at the Mega Market, sort of like an upscale Mexican Target and Grocery Store where we found all the essentials (tequila, cerveza, chips and beach towels).
When we got back to our room, we found the Swan Towel on the Bed from Elizabette who is going out of her way to make us comfy (and insure a tip). We ended up drinking beers and tequila with Cheetos (interesting, different taste for the Mexican market) and some very tasty Jalapeno Chips while we tried to watch Football. The TV reception is less than stellar so, rather than trying to watch Ben Rothlisberger who was so wavy that you couldn’t tell who was Pittsburgh and who was the opponent, we watched the New Orleans absolutely smoke Eli Manning’s Giants.
We headed into town for dinner at Dorados de Villa which, even though it is right on the square and probably frequented by the Cruise Boat crowd, was really pretty tasty with Shrimp Fajitas for Cindy and Camarones al Aglio for me. Our waiter was actually a really friendly, non-pushy guy and we had a good time. After dinner, it was a windy walk back to the hotel where we watched the Chicago Bears throw the game down the toilet. Hopefully the weather improves tomorrow.
Interesting Fact of the Day: Sponge Bob Square Pants speaks Espanol!
MORE TO FOLLOW SOON.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Well we woke up Monday to windier, vaguely stormy weather and had omelets for breakfast which were pretty tasty. We walked over to Blue Dive and found out that the harbor is still closed so no diving today. That doesn’t really leave a ton to do in Cozumel but hey, to quote Odd Todd, “It’s better than working!” so we headed back to the hotel. Elizabette’s creation for the day was a turtle towel and heart towel with fake flowers and a few Hershey’s kisses which you can’t complain about too much. We did sit here wondering why we are paying to stay in a boutique hotel in Cozumel to blog about not being able to do anything because of the weather �" at least there are beers in the fridge and a bottle of Centenario Reposado to keep us (me) entertained ;-)
We decide we would watch a move and ended up watching a fairly interesting Mickey Rourke movie called Killshot that was pretty enjoyable.
After lunch we stopped by the dive shop again to check on the prognosis for tomorrow and it looks better so we said we are in.
Hopefully tomorrow works out for diving!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
So we woke up for breakfast and it was definitely still a bit stormy out so we weren’t sure if the boat would actually make it out.
A bit of confusion ensued where another couple was not where they were supposed to be (or as we later found out, the dive shop wasn’t where they were supposed to be) so we hung around another dock for a bit before an older couple from upstate New York joined the party.
Everything went well with two really nice dives at Paso de Cedral and Yucab with tons of fish, corals, sponges, turtles, lobsters, etc.
Joe and Terry, the couple from New York, were hoping to do a bunch of night dives this week but apparently business has sucked lately and people keep canceling which occurred today. I volunteered if they would go out with three people and the shop agreed so Cindy and I had a short time to run out to a little great looking place that just ended up being ok and then heading back to the boat to head out for a twilight dive followed by the night dive.
We ended up walking just off the square and having dinner at Café Denis which was surprisingly good, partially due to our good natured waiter. Cindy had pork tacos and I had a shrimp chilli relleno that was pretty good. The waiter thought he would one up me by giving us some habanero salsa but it really wasn’t that hot (although provided a good excuse to order another beer or two). After dinner (and actually after paying) he insisted on giving us shots of tequila (silver but good). Meanwhile, a band was playing in the square and we were forced to listen to Mexican inspired, bad remixes of 60’s tunes vaguely reminiscent of Peruvian Flute Bands playing pop tunes. This of course forced me to watch South Park Pandemic/Pandemic 2 on the laptop while Cindy slept.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
We woke up to drizzling rain and had our last breakfast at the Hotel Flamingo and got a late checkout before walking over to the dive shop. The rain was not about to deter them from going out so we all piled on the Medusa and headed out for a couple dives with the veterans Lori, Gary, Steve and Mark from yesterday's dive. Vollrath the Dive Master decided that the first dive should be the Cathedral at Puntas Sur on the far southern side of the island. It ends up that this is considered a somewhat advanced dive as it goes to about one hundred feet and involves some swim-throughs and a large cave cathedral with a dedication to a local diver inside the "cathedral". Here is a flowery description from http://searobincozumel.com/divesites.htm
"A dive here begins on a sandy ridge inside the wall at 70 ft. Moving out to the edge of the wall you will find a mound of large coral structures that reach from 45 feet down to a depth of 100 ft or more. Traveling North you will arrive at the “Cathedral” a large cavern with a vaulted ceiling, where shimmering streaks of sunlight filter in through cracks and crevices, bright blue oval window penetrate the darkness ahead of you. The “Cathedral” has multiple openings, making it easy to move through, and is one of the most impressive caverns on the island."
When Cindy heard "one-hundred feet" a look of panic flashed across her eyes so we talked to Vollrath explaining that she is a new diver and hadn't been that deep, nor had swam through caves. He assured her that it would be OK and offered to be her dive buddy. Also, in discussing her issues with descending with him, we figured out that it wasn't so much ear issues as it was mask squeeze and he told her how to simply deal with that by exhaling into your mask through your nose (something intuitive to me but I guess I never bothered to think about telling her...oops).
The dive was absolutely awesome, probably the coolest tropical dive we have ever done! Cindy had no trouble descending to the start of the dive where we started winding through the reef and the swim-throughs. Vollrath immediately reneged on his offer to be Cindy's dive buddy so I hung back to watch her but she was comfortable and having no buoyancy problems. Even at just under 100' the water was warm and the visibility was great. We saw tons of fish, corals, sponges and wildlife and swimming into the Cathedral itself with the light coming down from above was really cool.
We did a second drift dive at La Francesca with tons to see including turtles, a giant green moray eel trying to devour a trigger fish (who ultimately escaped), huge rays, blue and black parrotfish, lobsters, eagle rays and tons of colorful corals and sponges. All in all a great day of diving.
Now it is a race back to the hotel to grab our stuff and run for the afternoon ferry to Playa del Carmen
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