Thursday, December 29, 2016
Cozumel, with Returning Special Guest Star
Yesterday’s stop was the small Mexican island of Cozumel, which I always get confused with Cancun, even though they’re entirely different places. Our ship pulled into port yesterday morning and I expected to see phalanxes of high-rise hotels — I suppose because Cozumel is a popular tourist spot. But that’s not the vibe of this island at all. Instead the landscape is mostly forest — low clusters of fan palms, sea grapes and gumbo limbo trees.
The small main town and port areas are on the side of the island facing the channel and the Yucatan. There's a long waterfront sidewalk lined with little dive shops and family-run hotels. And that’s where I got to meet today’s Returning Special Guest Star.
If you read Mary Moon’s blog, Bless Our Hearts, you know that she’s in Cozumel right now with her husband Glen. When we realized I’d be passing through at the same time, we engineered a blogger rendezvous!
Dave wasn't feeling well yesterday, so he stayed on the ship. But I got off and walked to the Moons' hotel, not too far from the port.
Mary and Glen are staying in a terrific little hotel right on the water, with unforgettable Caribbean colors all around. Even the most mundane scenes seem twice as beautiful.
There’s a black hotel cat named Bagheera — the namesake of the panther in The Jungle Book — who quite happily crawled into this leftover pizza box. (I’m not sure anything about this picture is in focus but I like it anyway.)
The Moons generously gave me almost an entire day of their vacation, showing me authentic Cozumel — from the glamorous gas pump jockey in her carefully applied makeup to the pickup truck packed with larger-than-life statues of Disney characters. Mexico can be a mysterious place.
Since I gave up on the idea of trying to take cruise excursions to Chichen Itza or Tulum, because they’re just too darn far away, my main goal was to see some Mayan ruins. Fortunately, there are some right in the middle of Cozumel!
The ruins are called San Gervasio, and we explored the winding rocky paths laid by Mayans hundreds and hundreds of years ago. I chased yellow-breasted birds and bright blue butterflies with my lens, but the butterflies in particular were a challenge to photograph. They just would not open their wings and sit still.
We saw Iguanas only slightly smaller than Olga.
At San Gervasio we were given wristbands when we paid our entrance fees, and I still can’t bring myself to take mine off. As I told Mary, it’s like when you go clubbing as a young person and you wear your wristband the next day to show everyone where you went. It’s my souvenir.
After the ruins, the Moons drove me around the island in their rental car. We passed the windblown gulfside beaches and rocky, protected tide pools where children swam. We’d originally intended to have lunch in a remote gulf-front restaurant, but by this time it was 2 p.m. and I needed to be back to the ship at 4 p.m. So we retreated back to town and had tangy chicken-and-lime soup in a sidewalk cafe, where Jesus presided over us from a nook in the corner. Fab!
This was the second time I’d met Mary, and let me just say, anyone who says you don’t make real friends via the Internet is clueless. She and Glen are such open, genuine people — I feel like we share fundamental values that bind us together just as tightly as any of my friends. (Even though Mary revoked my hippie card because I didn’t know about Dr. Bronner’s soap.)
They dropped me back at my ship right on time, and today I’ll be cruising back to Tampa, crossing the wide expanse of the Gulf of Mexico. Tomorrow, it’s back to real life in Florida, and in just a few days Dave and I will be back in London — which seems very surreal to me now.
Speaking of London, I traded e-mails with Olga’s dog sitter. Apparently Olga is happy and well. She probably won’t even want to come home!