Monday, November 28, 2011

Cozumel and "Home" (Cozumel, Mexico)

Hola Amigos

We wrapped up our week in Cozumel.  We had a really wonderful, laid back time.  Most days we walked into town, 2 miles each way, for a meal, cruised the back streets soaking up the local vibe (we always felt very safe-not a single scary moment), moseyed around and then hoofed it back to the condo.  We snorkeled several times right from the shore line adjacent to the condo. One day we went out on snorkeling excursion with a company that we've joined a couple times in the past from cruise ships.  The snorkeling nor the service was as good as in the past but we spent about 7 hours on the water which is always fun.

Loved seeing a turtle!!

The rest of our week was just spent reading, exercising the brain with Sudoku, chalking up more miles, enjoying the beautiful views, whining about the humidity, hanging out and going to bed early.  One of the many great pleasures of being retired and full timing is that most everyday feels like vacation.  Consequently, we didn't feel driven to maximize every hour of every day.  It was just a very nice pace. 

We departed Cozumel Saturday morning.  In the interest of simplifying our return to Cancun we decided to skip the bus and ferry routine.  Instead we splurged on a 20 minute flight via Maya Air. These small airlines can be "interesting" and sometimes frightening but the flight was smooth and picturesque.

After working our way through Customs/Immigrations we settled in at our gate with about a 3 hour wait.  I don't mind sitting around airports.  I read, watch people and snack.  Debbie likes it less.  But lets talk about snacks.  Now I understand "mark up."  Capitalism is a great thing.  But folks, a 12 ounce Diet Coke in the Cancun airport  was about $6.50.  That's nearly $40 a six pack!!!!  I passed.   Food items required a second mortgage!  Eventually we settled on an individual pizza for Debbie and I went for the burger and onion rings.  About $20.  For a sweet treat we did find a "reasonable" deal on a mammoth candy bar for about $5.50.  Two bottles of water were $7.00.  So do the math.  I'm thinking mighty pricey for a little junk food.  The flight was good.  There was some uncertainty about our seat assignment so we upgraded our seats. United has something they call Economy Plus.  For about $30 a head you get seats that have maybe 6 inches of additional leg room.  If you're 6'5" like me that sounds like heaven. We arrived in Denver, stumbled through Customs/Immigration with a little confusion and boarded our flight to Tucson.  Our good fortune continues.  We easily hooked up with the shuttle to economy parking, found our car without incident, it started, and we remembered the code for getting back into the campground after 10pm!

The last task to complete prior to fully settling back into our little full timing lifestyle was to go pick up the dogs at the kennel.  We missed them terribly and felt bad about their confinement.  They're SOOOO spoiled.  We picked them up at about 1:30 on Sunday.  They were jubilant!  We were pleased.  Bo growled but that's just his way?!  He's also hoarse.  I'm sure from commanding the entire universe which of course is his!  So we're back in our comfy little space.  Our trip was great but it's always nice to come home..

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cozumel (Cozumel, Mexico)


Here we are in sunny Cozumel.  Our travel here required a very long day but it was accomplished mostly without incident.  We got up around 4am and left the camper, headed for the Tucson airport, a 45 minute drive, at 5:45am.  Our flight departed at 8am.  We got there with plenty of time to spare.  I was pleased.  The flight to Phoenix was about 25 minutes.  We had ample time to make our next flight which was 4 hours to Cancun.   Upon arriving at Cancun we gathered our luggage and worked our way through Customs and Immigration.  We then located the shuttle bus that would take us to Playa Del Carmen.  We stood around maybe thirty minutes then boarded the bus for about a 45 minute ride.  Upon our arrival at Playa Del Carmen we walked thru town a little ways and found the booth to buy a ferry ticket to Cozumel.   We got in line, worked our way up, were about to board when they told us we were in the wrong line.  We don't know if we missed a sign tellling us which line to be in , but even if there were a sign we can't read or speak Spanish so all this was by chance. We worked our way back out of the line (against the flow of traffic with our luggage - great fun) and got in the right line.  Eventually we boarded and enjoyed the 30 minute boat ride to Cozumel.  At the ferry terminal we climbed into a taxi for a short ride to the condo/timeshare. We arrived at around 7:00pm.  We were pooped!  They had a taco bar, we chowed and were in bed in short order.

Sunday we layed around awhile and then headed for town.  It's about a 2 mile walk.  This will provide us a great opportyunity to keep up our miles. Town was largely closed with very few folks, tourist or local, present.  No cruise ships in port.  We toured town some, had lunch, dodged a light rain, and made our way to the large grocery store in town.  It resembled a Super Walmart.  Not quite as large but mighty comprehensive.  There was some culture shock. We were surprised by how much fresh food was exposed to the public.  Baked goods, deli salads, meat, fish etc just kind of on display with no covering.  Not a huge deal but unique.  The next challenge was of course that we couldn't read anything and we're just beginning to figure out the whole peso thing.  We settled on some items we understood, paid, and jumped in one of the MANY taxis available and returned to the condo.  We spent the evening talking and reading.  We have a substandard TV in our room but most of the channels are in Spanish. But speaking of our room, it's very nice!  It's a one bedroom apartment with two balconies and a fantastic ocean view!!  There are two pools, a small gym, a Spa, a couple restaurants all nicely maintained.  The place is a little passed its prime but they are obviously working hard to keep the facility clean and presentable.  We have no complaints.  We even have free Wi-fi.  And did I mention the view?

Coral Princess Hotel Cozumel, Mexico

Living room with ocean view

Love watching the cruise ships arrive in the early morning

We've cruised on this Royal Carribean ship (Voyager of the Seas)

Oceanfront Pool

Nice sunsets

The bedroom also has a balcony

We've been sleeping with the door open, listening to the ocean 

Monday we got up about 6:30 and we were at breakfast by 8.

Mexican breakfast

"You better save me some breakfast!!!"

From there we did our walk to town. Cozumel is interesting. Other then being right on the ocean, it's not particularlry picturesque. There are many statues,

a few parks and lots of marginal structures. The walk to town is along a paved pathway though, with ocean views the entire way so not a bad walk at all. 

We've spotted a few shore birds along the way,

and we were highly entertained watching this guy enjoy a mid-day bath in what didn't amount to much more than a puddle in the middle of the road.

Not surprisingly, the Cozumel locals livelyhood is almost totally dependent upon the tourist trade.  Consequently they do hound you a little.  You are FREQUENTLY asked to enter their respective store.  They will likely ask you repeatedly.  They will say funny things.  I'm now Mr. Whiskers!  They will offer you cuban cigars and offer to show you their Rolex watches.  I'm skeptical.  They will suggest you buy jewery for your.... I tell them  Debbie is my girlfriend.  You see, I think I'm funny.  They will say, "I need your money."  And they probably do.  The charming element of these conversations is that they're alway pleasant and respectful.  They're earnest, not pushy.  You just have to roll with the routine and keep walking!  So, our first destination of the day was the bank, a Mexican affliate of our Bank of America.  Our mission, PESOS.  Success via the ATM!  We wandered town.  Much busier with several cruise ships in port.  We stopped for drinks, chips, guacamole, HOT salsa and soaking up some local flavor.

Our diet is on "vacation hold"!!
Eventually we made it back to our condo.  6.5 miles.  We immediately gathered our snorkeling gear and moseyed to the ocean 25 yards from our hotel.  The water is beautifully clear but the snorkeling is not that great.  That doesn't matter.  We  snorkeled a lot 2000-2009 but have not had the opportunity since December of 2009 in Belize.  So this was an easy opportunity to remember how to put on a snorkel and breath.  Piece of cake. Now that we've spent so much time in the drier west, we can't help but to take note of the humidity.  Consequently, it felt great to ease into the ocean which is currently at a very pleasant temperature, JUST RIGHT!!

 We toured the shoreline, saw some nice fish, a couple stingrays,

and a little coral.  Nothing spectacular, just nice.  Happy Hour was at 5.  Debbie had 4 SMALL, supposedly WEAK Margaritas but she was in bed asleep by 7:30!