Acabamos de regresar de Cozumél anoche. ¡Que buenissimo!
Our trip to Cozumél has to be one of the greatest highlights of our life together. We absolutely had a terrific time and we WILL be going back!
This is a long post–we apologize in advance!
The view from the second floor of our villa out over the water
The boat picked us up each day at the end of the dock on the right side of the photo
Front door service!
Here’s a typical neighborhood in Cozumél:
We had the most incredible food while we were there. One of my favorites was “el Billy” who is an “asadero” (griller?!). They served piles of fresh grilled meats, espagetti, rice, and repollo (cabbage slaw), with house-made spicy sauces of course:
Another favorite was Diego’s Tacos right by the airport; we went there on our way out of town yesterday:
Diego’s serves the most awesome fish, shrimp, and meat tacos. And they have a cool board where you can write your name:
My most favorite meal, though, was “Pollo Yucateo” (Yucatan Chicken) at El Moro. It was amazing! Achiote is a wonderful spice, which originated in the Yucatan I believe.
The diving was even better than I expected. We were a bit nervous on our first couple of dives the first day, but we became much more comfortable as time went along. We got better with buoyancy control and breathing, and by the end we did 60+ minute dives! Going deep was not a problem either; several of our dives were 70+ feet, with our max 79 feet.
We did 11 dives over four days (Three on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, a break Thursday, and two dives on Friday). Sherrie and I aren’t quite ready for taking videos underwater yet (that’s my next learning point), but we found a video that is a great representation of what we saw on our dives. We experienced essentially everything in this video:
Our favorite things to see were (in no particular order):
Photo credit: Maple Leaf Scuba
Spotted Eagle Rays!
The rays are amazing and majestic. They can be quite large–more than 6 feet across. They dig with their noses in the sand looking for conchs, and when they find them, crush them into bits to eat the snail part. Other fish follow along to get the scraps.
The toadfish is bashful and pretty rare. We only saw around five of them on all the dives together. Our divemaster Javier had a little lure that looked like a little squid that he would use to draw them out of their caves in the rocks. This little guy is rare and only found around Cozumél, so you have to go there to see him.
We also saw lots of eels–spotted and bigger green ones.
One was particularly large–at least six feet long, as big around as a football, and very menacing.
Here are some more shots:
Getting ready to jump:
Even though the water is 84 degrees (on the surface; 82 down deep), you still need a wetsuit or you’ll get cold after an hour:
(I wore the shorty the first dive, but then decided it was too cold and went for a full wetsuit after that).
We dove with a dive company named “Dive with Cristina“. Cristina is a very experienced master diver, and has other master divers on her crew. One of them is her brother Chito, who made a fabulous lunch everyday (Chito is the one in the blue shirt on the ride side of this photo):
which we ate after the second dive. They served fresh fruit and sandwiches with guacamole, but everybody’s favorite (well almost everybody; sorry Glen!) was the ceviche:
Chito’s ceviche was very simple: raw white sea bass “cooked” in lime juice with cilantro. It was awesome!
After lunch, more diving!
At one point, a member of our group gave Sherrie his GoPro to take some videos. It’s hard to communicate under water (read: impossible), so Sherrie thought she was using the camera to take some video of a sleeping turtle we saw under a rock ledge (at 60 feet), but instead she was taking video of herself–here’s a screenshot:
Sherrie is a fish! We couldn’t get her out of the water, either diving or the refreshing swim in the pool after the diving ended for the day. Witness her hand at the end of one day:
I just learned why this happens: scientists now think it’s a nervous system reaction to help us handle things better when our hands our wet.
Our typical day was get up and eat breakfast and get out the door and get to the dock to get picked up at around 9 for diving. We stayed on the boat for three dives (with the requisite surface intervals), and then returned back to the dock around 4 in the afternoon. We spent some time refreshing ourselves in the pool and/or hot tub, then showered and went out on the town for dinner and a little shopping.
On Sunday, we didn’t dive but went to church
(The meeting was entirely in Spanish) and then went for a drive around the island with our new friend Miguel Moguel-Fuentes, the taxista:
Miguel was great to us all week. He came to get us when we needed to go somewhere, and helped us navigate around the town.
We stopped by the side of the road to buy some piñas:
(That’s about $1 each; and they were excellent!)
On the other side of the island (the windward side) we got the full experience of trade-wind-blown salt spray in the face and on the glasses!
The other side of the island does not have electricity, and is sparsely populated. There are a couple of restaurants and a small hotel. The southern tip has a beach/park with various attractions we hope to check out next time.
On Thursday, we decided to take a break from diving. The weather report predicted bad wind and rain and our dive masters were afraid the port might actually be closed. (It turned out to be a great day for diving for those that went) We were in on a secret that Glen, our friend who arranged the trip, didn’t know about. His wife, Tracie (Sherrie’s amazing childhood friend) was coming to Cozumel to surprise him. She doesn’t dive, so when the weather looked bad, we decided we would take that day off and spend it with Tracie (and we hoped, Glen, who never takes days off). He ended up having some sinus troubles and decided before he knew Tracie was coming to take the day off as well. It was a super fun surprise when she walked into our villa on Wednesday night!! All but a few sat out that day and we all took the ferry over to Playa del Carmen (south of Cancun)–a 30-40 minute trip. We didn’t like Playa too much–it was very commercial and full of tourists.
Another thing we did on our day off was visit the Kaokao chocolate factory on Cozumél. They make chocolate using the original cacao bean (Criollo, not the Forastero developed in Europe and grown in Africa, or the Trinitario hybrid). As part of the tour, we got to make our own chocolate!
This chocolate is to be used for drinking chocolate. During the tour, they made some for us in a traditional manner with corn flour, hot spices, honey from the special bees that pollinate vanilla plants, and of course the chocolate. It was yummy! We can’t wait to make some for whichever of our children are here for Christmas. We are turning into chocolate snobs like some of our kids!
We were so lucky to be invited and really enjoyed all of the folks in our group. We totaled 13 divers plus Tracie for part of the week. We were in two adjoining villas, and had so much fun going to dinner, exploring, and playing games together. We hope to be invited back again!!
I’ve created a public folder on Dropbox
wherein I’m going to put some photos and videos when we get them. There’s a link to a video of me and Sherrie and a couple of others jumping off the boat into the water and sinking into the depths. Some of the other divers took videos they are going to edit and post soon. Stay tuned!