Tulum to Cozumel
What a luxury - to be able to sleep in for a second night in a row! Or it would have been if we had actually slept. For some reason neither Maree nor I was able to sleep soundly last night. Perhaps it was the spicy vegetables that we ate for dinner.
After a leisurely breakfast we took a walk to a nearby Cenote that Freya had told us about the day before. It wasn't far to walk and it was quite lovely. Unlike the others we had seen, this Cenote was fully exposed and surrounded by jungle. The water was crystal clear with lots of fish and plant life. If we hadn't already packed our swim gear away I would love to have had a swim.
At 10:45 Edgar rolled up in the bus and soon we were on our way. An hour or so later we were being dropped at the ferry terminal in Playa del Carmen and saying goodbye to our cycling friends. By 1pm we were sitting on board as the ferry made its way to Cozumel Island.
I was somewhat surprised by the modernity of the buildings in Playa del Carmen. The area around the ferry terminal looked more like a shopping mall in Melbourne than a town in Mexico. Once on Cozumel Island we walked the 300 metres or so to the Flamingo hotel. It turned out to be quaint but nice. It is only three blocks from downtown so far enough away so we don't get any party noises. A familiarisation walk confirmed that most of the seaside streets are a typical tourist area. Lots of small shops selling colourful blankets, ceramics, hats, t-shirts and other stuff. Shops selling tequila and cigars next to ictiotherapy clinics where you stick your feet into an aquarium and little fish eat the dead skin and other impurities. It must be the latest in medical treatments. Just wait this channel 9 gets to hear about it!
There were also very high end shops with gold and silver jewellery, Rolex and Breitling watches and Dior perfumes. These apparently make their money when the cruise ships come in. Of course there were eating places galore all with spruikers outside trying to drag us in. We chose a burrito place in a back street called Krazy King. I had a shrimp burrito and Maree a vegetarian washed down with some cold grapefruit juice. This was very tasty and way cheaper than the tourist traps. A cup of tea and an ice cream at some other stores rounded out the meal.
We returned to the hotel to a tepid shower, or at least Maree did, it seems that we need to run the hot water for at least 10 minutes before it actually flows hot. I knew there was a reason that I, in gentlemanly fashion, always let Maree have the first shower. The next surprise occurred as we sat on the bed doing 'stuff' on our iPads. The power went off, as did the air conditioning. Surprisingly the internet did not drop out - it must be on a different circuit. The lights made a couple of attempts to start up then stayed off for about 10 minutes. After the power came back on I restarted the air conditioner but Lo and behold tube power went off not 5 minutes later. This process repeated about 7 times during the night even after we had settled down to sleep. The air con would go off, as would the street lights. Then when the street lights came back on I would restart the aircon. Eventually I gave up and we managed to sleep most of the night with the aircon off.
Next morning after a small breakfast at the hotel we took a stroll in the other direction up as far as the airport. We noticed that two large cruise ships had docked during the night. As we walked up th road we were passed by a convoy of beachbuggies carrying people with the same coloured bandana around their necks. I bet that they were cruise ship passengers going for a shore excursion.
At 11am we walked to the port to join our pre-booked snorkelling trip in a glass bottomed boat to three nearby reefs. As our motorboat moved past the two cruise ships it was revealed that there were four more of these floating towns moored further down the port. I guess that the population of Cozumel probably increased by 12,000 to 15,000 today. Our little boat took about 20 minutes to reach the first dive spot but, as we were the only non-Spanish speakers on board, we missed most of the explanations and patter. The guide did take time to talk with us about safety and how to use the equipment. In water about 5 m deep we floated about for 20 minutes or so observing fish, corals and other sea life. Maree used a buoyancy aid to help her float and quickly got used to using the mask and snorkel. The guide collected a whole bunch of zebra fish by feeding them so that they swarmed around us. A bit of a cheat I know but it looked pretty spectacular to see us in a cloud of hungry fish.
We then followed our guide to a second reef which did look a little different from the first but not much. By now some dark clouds had covered the sun and it started to rain. The water was quite warm and it was odd to watch the sea surface from beneath as the rain drops hit. Unfortunately it was time to re-board to move to our third reef and the rain and wind made for a very cold ride. I was actually shivering uncontrollably and desperately wanted to get back in the sea where the water was warm. The third reef was an artificial one where large ceramic objects with lots of holes have been lowered onto the sea floor to encourage corals to grow an to provide shelter for fish. Maybe in 50 years this will look great but now it looks very artificial. There were some different kinds of fish here. All in all we both enjoyed the boat trip but it was cold coming back to port. Soon after, of course, the sun was back and by the time we returned to the hotel we were warm again.
After a nice lunch Maree and I went for a long walk through the back streets of Cozumel to get a feel for how the real people live. Just as in most of the Yucatan, except for some special roads, most streets are simply numbered so it is easy to locate yourself. We were looking for some parks that showed up on the map but they turned out to be sportsfields. There seemed to be a real mixture of property types in these streets with quite expensive looking houses side by side with ones that looked ready for demolition. Unlike the tourist streets these had rubbish lying about like in other parts of Mexico. We passed some market stalls and seedy looking bars as well as lots of small businesses. This is where the locals shop, drink, eat and buy. By 5 pm it was time for a Margarita and the bars were offering two for the price of one so how could we resist. We will have dinner at the Art Gallery tonight in their restaurant that overlooks the seafront. Hopefully we will have power tonight but I will take a torch with me just in case.