Cozumel Mexico Journal 7/25 – 8/1/08
It’s Thursday evening and we are in St. Louis at the hotel lounging about before bedtime. We had a nice dinner at the Hotel and the alarms are set for 4:15am so we can catch the shuttle to the airport in the morning. Kelly went to the Casino and had a very lucky night. He was back at the hotel shortly after midnight with his winnings. Our flight is set for 0700 in the morning and we will arrive in Cancun at 10am. Then it’s a cab to Playa del Carmen and a Ferry ride to the Island. Check back Saturday for log entries on our arrival, first day travel adventures and first night on the island comments.
The Trip and Day 1 in Cozumel
It was up early and off to the airport to catch the plane to Mexico. We got exit row seats, had a Bloody Mary in flight and as a result the flight down was very nice. The plane actually left early and arrived early so that made us happy. After a short run in with the Taxi Masters at the airport we were on our way to Playa del Carmen to catch the Ferry to Cozumel. We noticed that the area on the way had been built up a lot since our last trip down this way. The drive was uneventful and the driver let us out in Playa at the entrance to the Plaza where the Ferry’s left from. We quickly obtained tickets and made the 12:00 noon run to Cozumel.
Arriving on the Island we caught a Cab to the Condo and quickly made ourselves comfortable. As always with the Cantamar Condos, it is beautiful and the view of the Carribean is spectacular. Kelly and Mona threw their bags in their bedroom and immediately headed in town to the square to our favorite resturant, Los Dorados de Villa. I stayed behind to clean up a little and unpack before walking into town myself and joining them.
Have I mentioned how “Hot” and “Humid” it is yet. I thought the walk in to meet them was going to give me the Big H, but I did make it OK. I am sure I will get used to it before we leave but till then?
They are definitely sprucing up the sea front in San Miguel. There were New Monuments, fountains and art work all along the walkway in front of the Sea. It really is beautiful and has made a difinite improvement to San Miguel. These are a few pictures I took on my walk into town.
Arriving at the square I met Mona and Kelly for Lunch, drinks and people watching. Of course the long time waiters there all remembered us and welcomed us “back home”. It is always nice to know people remember you and are glad to see you again. When we finished we walked over to Pietro’s old place. The new owner “Chad” was there and he seemed to be a great guy, he kept the same name for the place, Wet Wendy’s. His new menu looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it out.
After the visit, it was back to the apartment with a short stop at the grocery store for supplies. Then a dip in the pool to cool off and a quick dinner for me. Mona and Kelly went back into town for Fajitas but I remained behind to type this up. I am fairly tired so it will be early to bed for me tonight. More tomorrow mis compadres.
Day 2 and I’ve Lost My Key Already
Saturday morning finds me up early. A couple cups of coffee later and I am outside trying and get some nice photos of the Condo and the Carribean. It is a beautiful morning but warm and humid already. My travel companions are still in bed so I have a little time to reflect on how beautiful this island truly is. The many shades of blue and turquoise of the sea, the multicolors of the flowers and plants are absolutely breath taking.
Once Mona and Kelly are up and we all have a cup of coffee in us, it’s off to town for breakfast at Los Dorados de Villa. Mona had a nice light Continental breakfast, Kelly had Waffles and I opted for Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo and Empanadas. Finishing up we walked across the square to the car rental and got a jeep for the week. It’s a nice white one and fairly new and undamaged.
On returning to the Condo they decided to stay and lounge about the pool and do a little snorkling off the pier in front of the house. I opted to take the jeep and head out to visit some sites in preparation for the article I want to write to sell to a travel magazine. So I was off with my camera bag in tow to see some of the sites.
My first stop was the largest archaelogical site on the island, “San Gervasio”. The Mayan name is pronounced “Tan Toon” but I failed to get the spelling. This place is often over looked by people disembarking from the Cruise Ships but I find it very charming and a place that gives you a different insight to the ancient Maya. This sight was a pilgrimage destination for young girls and their families before they were about to be married or give birth. The temples are to the Mayan Goddess “Ixchel”, goddess of the moon, birth, pregnant women and marriage. Young girls would come here for purification ceremonies, to actually get married or give birth to a child. They estimate from things found in the ruins that over a million Mayans visited this site while it was in use. Smaller ruins that supported this site are all over the island Most have not been excavated. I went to the expense (a whole $17) to hire one of the guides to walk me through the site again. Her name was Patrice and she was extremely knowledgeable. I remember the tour I had many years ago and it seems that the archaeologists have discovered much more about the use of the buildings and what rites were performed there.
After the tour I hopped back in the jeep and headed for the leeward side of the island to get some beach shots. I wanted to try and get down to the Southern Lighthouse but changed my mind. I decided to have Mona or Kelly crawl up the narrow stairs to the top and get me some panoaramic shots of that end of the island. On the drive along the coast I was amazed at the changes that the last hurricane had made to that side of the island. Many of the beaches I remembered were gone but there were new ones in different areas to replace them. The drive is still very beautiful and all of the little Beach side bar/resturants are back in operation.
Getting all the photos I needed I headed back across the island to meet Mona and Kelly for a very light lunch (cheese and crackers, they had chips and a very hot sausa dip) and a couple of cocktails. After finishing they headed back to pool side to read and lounge and I took a nap. It was very refreshing.
About six we all headed back into town for dinner at Wet Wendys. We were very anxious to try out their new menu and I have to admit and they agreed with me that the dinner was most delicious. I had chicken in a Walnut and Blue Cheese sauce with Plantains and Apples carmelized with butter, cinamon and ginger. Mona and Kelly had Grouper in a Garlic Butter Sauce with Onion Rings, Rice, and another vegetable like squash. We all agreed that the food was fantastic and the chef, “Alex”, came out aand talked with us about his cooking. He was a very nice young man originally from Guadalajara. I also have to mention the never ending Mango Margaritas that Mona and I ordered. Hmmmmm very delicious. We also got to meet Chad’s wife Klara, a beautiful young lady from Hungary. They came to Cozumel with their two children (ages 4 and 7) to start this business. They certainly seem to enjoy themselves here and the place is a very enjoyable experience.
After dinner we headed to the square to listen to music and stroll around a little. There were some people in Maya Costume playing music and singing, A Mambo Band on the Gazebo playing dance music for a very large crowd that had gathered to be entertained. We listened for about an hour and headed back to the Condo. Getting home Kelly and I enjoyed a good cigar and the three of us commisurated about life and cats versus dogs till bed time. More tomorrow my friends.
Oh yes, and my final word for the day, I have already lost my house key. Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!
Day 3 and the Great Flood
Sunday morning we woke to another beautiful day here in Sunny Cozumel. Some morning coffee and a bowl of cereal and I was set to go. We decided to take it easy in the morning and lay by the pool reading and relaxing. After getting all the sun I could stand I came in and answered some E-mails and started work on my article. I finished some of it but I am still fleshing out all the ideas I want to cover.
Some time later Mona and Kelly came in from the pool and we decided to go to the other side of the island for lunch. We stopped at “Chen Riu” because we had been there before and the food looked very good. Also the place was packed with locals and that is always a good sign. They ordered the fish and I had a chicken dish. The food was very good and I give the place a 3 Jalapeno rating out of five. We sat and enjoyed the view and watched the kids play in the surf. It was very relaxing. Afterwards we decided to drop by Cocunuts on the way back. It is one of our favorite little bars here. Kelly actually had his 50th birthday party there and it was quite an event. The owner still remembers us and always gives us a warm welcome. A couple of beers, some chips and sausa and we were all set. Then it was back to the Condo for some more pool side adventures and rest up for an evening out.
On the way back we stopped at the workshop of the artist (Felipe Nery Solis) who designed and built the sculptue and fountain you saw a picture of earlier in my journal. He does some fantastic work and I wish I had a way to get some of his bigger pieces home. Mona and I settled on a couple of small items vowing to stop in again towards the end of the week and getting more.
After watching another beautiful sunset we headed back into town for dinner about seven. Sundays find most of the stores closed and all the locals at the square enjoying their day off. We ate at our usual place, mainly because we couldn’t decide on another one. Most of our favorite resturants were closed for the day. The meal was good as always and we settled up and headed for the Ice Cream Parlor for desert. The cold Ice Cream hit the spot on this warm humid evening.
We walked back to the square to listen to the music and watch people dance. Sunday evenings on the square are always special in Cozumel. The band is terrific, playing an assortment of Latin Style music, the local ladies have set up tables and are selling their special foods. I wished we hadn’t eaten already. The locals are out to have a good time and there are no Cruise Ships stopping at the Island on Sunday.
After sitting and enjoying the square and its event we returned to the Condo to find it had flooded. We have just finished cleaning the mess up. It took us almost two hours but finally I can cross dry floor to get too my bed. Speaking of which, I’m tired and heading there now. I’ll talk about this more tomorrow when I update the page again. Good Night all!
Day 4, Crocodiles, Horses and Tequilla
Rising early I checked out the Condo and all had appeared to dry though the night. I made a pot of coffee and did some work on the previous days journal entries and waited for Mona and Kelly to get up. it was another beautiful morning, does this ever get old? I think not!
Once they were up we decided not to go out for breakfast and I fixed Kelly Scrambled Eggs and myself an Omlette. Mona had her usual continental (coffee and toast). I cleaned the kitchen and Mona put the towels used to clean up last night in to dry. She did some work on the computer and then they headed out to pool side again. I worked on my article. (This is the boring stuff).
Later after they had enough pool, I made the case to head out to the Southern Light House, the Horse Ranch and the Tequilla Factory. They agreed and we all hopped into the Jeep to start our day.
First stop was the Southern Light House (Punta Sur). It is now a nature preserve and park with beach facilities and a lot more going on. The entry fee now covers a full range of activities, the Light House (you can climb up the tower) and museum , serveral nature watching towers, a beach with snorkleling and other activities, a boat tour of the lagoons and guided tours of the site.
Arriving at the Light House Mona and Kelly graciously agreed to climb up and take some panoramic shots of the surrounding area for me. I stayed at ground level and bought water for all of us. As soon as they were down we climbed aboard a shuttle which took us to the new beach area and the spot where the boat tour of the Lagoon started. Disembarking from the shuttle we had to wait for the boat to get back into the pier to start our tour.
Cimbing aboard we were greeted by our friendly captain. His English was VERY limited but he made a valiant effort and I appreciated what he was going through. After we had all boarded we took off and started our tour, explaining as best he could the destruction of the habitat by Hurricane Wilma, the nesting habitat of some of the birds and the highlight of the tour, the Crocodiles. They came right up to the boat and put on a little display for us. NO feeding allowed.
After the tour we returned to the lighthouse where I took some more photos from the ground and then we headed out to our next destination, the Horse Ranch. I wanted to stop here mainly to see what the place looked like and what was being offered as well as taking a few pictures. It looked to be a nice place with the animals being well taken care of. I am afraid that I was a little too big for riding these horses though.
Back out to the road and off again. A quick stop at Coconuts for lunch and then it was off to the Tequilla Factory to take a tour and do some tastings. Mona and Kelly were not interested and went back to the Artist’s workshop we had stopped at the day before. I went in and the tasting started immediately. A nice shot of their Blanco before the tour starts. From there the guide took me through all the steps from growing the Agave to proccessing it, to distilling it into what we purchase. It was a nice tour and included a lot of history and how they originally made tequilla and the changes in the process to modern day. At the end it was more tasting. Ten different types and flavors. Hmmmmmmmmmmm Good!!!!!!!!!!!
Mona and Kelly pulled back into the parking lot just as I was finishing up and we returned to the Condo, them to swim in the Sea and me to start typing up todays events. I will probably add more after we return from dinner.
By the way, I FOUND MY KEY!!!!! WOO HOOOO!!!!!!! Also, fingers crossed, it appears that they may have fixed our plumbing problems while we were gone. Another WOO HOOOO!!!!!!
Day 5 Laziness and Golf
Today was a fairly do nothing day. We got up. had coffee and decided to do breakfast at the Museum on the Island. They have a very nice resturant on the second floor terrace and I hear that Cyndi and Kelly had a brief cameo appearance on Samantha Brown’s travel show a few years ago. You will have to ask them about that. Of course I made a total pig of myself up there by having not only the Omelete but the Banana Pancakes also. Can you say “Stuffed”. Then is was back to the Condo for pool side relaxing while Mona and Kelly snorkled again.
This went on until it was time for us to take Kelly to the golf course to play while Mona and I shopped. I managed to get some cute souveniers for my Grand Nieces and Nephews, some T-shirts (like I really need any more) from Piranha Joes, and some Agave Syrup. Mona managed to not buy a single thing but ask her about the Tequilla tasting at the Tequilla Factory Store. We also stopped at Wet Wendy’s so I could arrange to stop by tomorrow for photos and an article I want to write.
After shopping we went back to the course to pick up Kelly and then back to the condo for more snorkeling and the oportunity for me to make this entry. After this it’s back to the square for dinner and then back to the Condo and early to bed. Tomorrow I go early to Wet Wendys to interview the Chef and owners for a special small article in the Magazine I am sending my main article to.
Day 6 It’s All About Work and then some Fun
Up early as scheduled today and getting ready to go to Wet Wendys for the Interviews and Photos. Checked my work E-mail and got one from Tim. Nice to know that people are actually reading this. More this evening when I return from the day’s adventures.
It’s actually Friday but last night after getting home from a full day I was just too tired to put the days adventures in so I’ll try to get as much done before we head out for our last day.
After some coffee and a bowl of cereal it was off to town to do my interviews. Mona and Kelly dropped me off and headed over to some new Condos we passed one day to check out the properties. I had to wait on the square a little before Chad and Klara arrived to open their place. It was another beautiful morning with a nice breeze and I always enjoy people watching.
A few minutes later they showed up and after letting them get the place ready for business I started with the pictures and interviews. Chad and Klara seem to be a nice young couple, they are very personable and always have a cheerful smile and seem genuinely glad to see you. He is from the US and she from Hungary and they met working on a Cruise ship. He was a piano player and she tended bar. It’s a long story on how they ended up owning a small bar resturant in Cozumel and I will tell it in person when we get home.
Alex the Chef is originally from Guadalajara and is also an interesting young man. His dishes are spectacular and very delicious. It was such a surprise to see these dishes on the menu of a small street side Margarita Bar. I will be writing a full article on the resturant and Alex for a Magazine.
After I had finished working it was off to do a little more shopping and then back to the other side of the island for an afternoon at Coconuts. If any of you see Laura Chamness tell her the waiters were asking when she was coming back for another Apron Surprize. We had fun stting and enjoying the ambience and talking with “Coco” the owner. He is always glad to see us and never fails to recognise us.
After having all the fun we could take, we headed back into town for dinner. This time it was Guidos for some Italian. Kelly and I had the Lasagna and Mona the Fetticini. We followed that with the Banana Supreme for desert. Mighty delicious as always. After dinner I stopped and took some pictures fo the fishing boats and then it was home and to bed at 8:30. God am I getting old!
Day 7 Golf and relaxing
This morning I was up at my usual time, started a pot of coffee and got on the computer to download some photos and work on them in preparation for sending to the Magazines. Some breakfast and a quick shower and I was redy to head for the Golf COurse. I had agreed to play with Kelly our last morning here since there was a special being offered and we could get morning Tee Times to avoid the heat. Our Tee Time was for 8:54 and I wanted to hit a ferw on the driving range first so we left a little early.
Arriving at the course we checked in, got our rental clubs, free golf balls and souvinere and headed out to the driving range. The heat had definitely not kicked into high yet and it was actually pleasant. After hitting a few we headed for the first tee where I proptly flew my first shot into the swamp. The rest of the day did not get much better for me but there were a few moments of brilliance that kept me interested. Of course Kelly was playing well but he too was having problems with the rental clubs and lost a few balls of his own. Still we enjoyed the outing and this course is beautiful and well worth playing if you ever visit this island.
Three hours later we are heading back to the Condo to freshen up, pick up Mona and head for lunch at Poncho’s Back Yard. Lunch was good, I always go here for the Black Bean Soup and once again it was the best I have ever tasted. Of course the Chocolate Ice Cream with Cherry Liquor and a vanilla/chocolate wafer for desert really hit the spot.
After lunch it was back here to relax on our last day in Cozumel. Mona and Kelly went out snorkeling and I did some more work on my photos and typed this up. Tonight I am staying in and working on my notes for the article. Then it will be packing up for the return home tomorrow.
Day 8 and the long road home
It was up early for me this morning to finish packing and getting ready for the long day ahead. Naturally coffee was the first thing on the list. Checking E-mails and making sure I had all my paperwork together was next. Finishing up, Mona and Kelly were ready and we sat around the Condo for our last hour and wished we had taken a longer vacation.
Then is was time to check out and we headed into town to turn the Jeep back in to the car rental and hang out on the square till we decided it was time to head over to Playa del Carmen and back to Cancun for the flight home. We sat on the square and I took some last minute pictures until we decided we would go down and hang out at Wet Wendy’s till time to leave.
That turned out to be a great decision since Chad had gone fishing the day before. Alex offered to whip up a plate of “Fish Five Ways” with the fresh Tuna and Mahi Mahi that Chad had caught the day before. I wish I could remember them because they were delicious and we gobbled down the entire plate and it was a very large serving. This was chased with their wonderful Magaritas and shots of tequila for me. Needless to say that when it was time to go we were all in a cheery mood.
Leaving Wet Wendys and saying our final farewells we headed over to the Ferry for the ride across to Playa. After that, a 45 minute cab ride to the Cancun airport and we were all set. It was good bye Mexico and hello St. Louis. I arrived Home in Carbondale at 2:30am Saturday morning. A little tired but glad to be sleeping in my own bed again.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my journal. Look for the next one in November when I return to Peru.