Published: November 6th 2008
November 6th 2008
In an effort to catch up I’m combining Monday’s Cozumel port day, and part of Tuesday’s Belize port day.
Cozumel is one of the ports my beautiful bride and I have looked forward to on this cruise. Back a few months ago we booked an excursion call “mini jeep and snorkel tour”. Our excursion was scheduled to start at noon so we woke and showered about 8 AM and went to the Red Sail restaurant and had a nice breakfast buffet. At 11:00 AM we walked off the ship and down the dock to find the place where our guides would be waiting. After we checked in we still had about 30 minutes before the tour started so we walked around port and bought some sun screen. Purta Maya, one of the main ports in Cozumel, is like most ports, a tourist trap but WOW who would have ever guessed that sunscreen would be $21.95 US. I like to have passed out. Being famous for being frugal (My beautiful bride calls it cheap) I almost decided to take my chances with the sun. But my beautiful bride reminded me of how easy I sun burn so I sucked it up and forked over the two twenties. Wiser for the experience we went back to wait on our tour to start.
After about a fifteen minute wait we followed our guides, Pancho & Jose, through the gates of the port and loaded onto an open sided bus to head to our destination. During the short ten minute ride to the tour company’s parking lot it was amazing at how little there was to see other than vacant building and land not rebuilt from the hurricane 2 years ago. Once we were at the lot my beautiful bride was given instructions on how to drive the mini jeep which actually was a Yamaha Rhino. I loaded up our Rhino and we were instructed on the proper use of the helmet and goggles and off we went. Our first stop was Punta Sur Eco Park about 8 miles away. To get there we traveled down a road that appeared to once be the main road along the island. The new main road was about 15 feet to our left. The old road seems to only be open to bicycles and off road vehicles. We followed 10 other Rhinos at 40 MPH down the paved road for the eight mile then we turned right into Punta Sur and road the dirt paths for 6-7 miles. This was the fun part. My beautiful bride handled the Rhino like a skilled off-road professional driver. Jumping potholes, running through mud puddles, and chasing down endangered species. We did have several stops once we entered the eco park. One was to see “Max” a fifteen foot long crocodile. What was interesting was that he was in his natural environment. There were no cages, He was free to roam as he desired. Which meant that JW stayed a safe distance away to keep from being lunch. We also stopped by a Mayan ruin which was an alarm for hurricanes. The ruin was small but very important to the Mayan people. It still sounds during high winds. The next stop was on the beach for the snorkeling part of the tour.
The snorkeling was great! My beautiful bride decided to stay on shore and lay in a hammock while I snorkeled. I had to swim with a group of about 10 people out from the shore about 75 yards then swim about 100 yards parallel to the shore which was down the center of a coral reef.. Then swim another 75 yards back to shore. Along the way I saw a two foot wide sea turtle, a star fish the size of a large dinner plate, and millions of fish of every color you could imagine. The most amazing thing was swimming through a coral fan garden. Just seeing the giant waving fans with all the fish was incredible. After an hour I made it back to shore. though I was a little sore, this had been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.
My beautiful bride drove back down the dirt paths to a light house where the tour company had drinks and salsa waiting. The light house had 158 steps to the top so my beautiful bride and I decided that we would leave that little adventure to the more spry of our group. We sipped our drinks, ate our chip and salsa, and people watched. After 20 minutes we loaded the Rhino and my beautiful bride again expertly drove us back to the unloading area.
We made it back to the ship at 5:10 PM. And after a quick stop at the restroom we went to the Red Sail to find food. While we were sitting there we ran into some people we had met back onshore and we spent most of the evening talking with them in the restaurant. I was the same people we had dinner with the first night onboard. Barbara, Mike, Barbara (they call her Bob)and Mitch are wonderful people from Tennessee. We sat and talked about our families travels, and other people we have met onboard. After a couple of hours my beautiful bride and I went to the lounge and caught the magic show. The show was funny and entertaining. After the show we went back to our cabin and went to sleep.
The next day was a port day in Belize. This would be the only port this cruise where we would tender two and a half mile off shore and have to swim…just kidding…you board a tender, which is a boat that holds about 100 people, and take a nice ride to shore. People with planned shore excursions had to leave the ship at 8:00 AM. However, my beautiful bride and I had nothing special planned so we slept in and went to a late breakfast. After we had breakfast we tried to take the elevator down to deck 0. However, the button would not light up. Thinking we may be going to the wrong place I went to the Pursers and ask the where we would disembark. We were told that there was a medicial emergency and deck 0 was closed for a few minutes to get the guest back onboard. What we found out later was they were bringing a deceased guest back onboard. An apparent heart attack while on a snorkeling tour. Our thoughts are with the family.
After a few minutes they opened deck 0 and my beautiful bride and I were onboard a tender heading toward shore.
TO BE CONTINUED!