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Published: October 14th 2013
Oh, the irony!
It’s kind of ironic that I’ve trotted to the other side of the world to various exotic countries yet haven’t been to the one that’s right next door to my homeland. And if not for the close proximity, why have I not been of the basis of FOOD
alone. Mexican cuisine has always been one of my top culinary contenders! So, it was time to set sail in search of a plate of tacos to remind me why Taco Bell is merely a façade of what authentic Mexican should be. Vamanos!
Despite the catastrophes Carnival Cruise Lines had been involved in over the past couple years, I decided to take my chances AND take advantage of the low prices that were likely a result of all the bad media. Carnival Paradise: Tampa to Grand Cayman, then to Cozumel, and back to Tampa! A cruise? Really?
Side note on cruises: Many people are wary of cruising because it’s unauthentic or “too touristy” and only allows for short spurts of time at each port. Sure, I understand and agree with the above but let’s not forget about the positive aspects: Inexpensive way to visit multiple destinations,
food and room included in the price, all you can eat, and loads of entertainment! I definitely wouldn’t cruise all the time, but cruises are great if you want relaxation mixed with a splash of adventure, a dollop of culture, and a sprinkle of foreign delectables.
Upon arriving in Mexico we decided to ditch the flocks of tourists and see the "real" Cozumel. We hired a driver for the day to take us out of the resort areas and into the heart of the island to get a real feel for the cuisine, the shopping, and the tequila! Tequila!
First stop was for tequila tasting at a local tequila plantation. We sampled various infused tequilas as we stood amidst the gardens and dense flora. The scent of hibiscus was in the air and also infused in one of the tequilas I sampled. The tamarind one was the best though! I bought two bottles. I really enjoyed learning about the agave plant, the fermentation and distilling process. I’m often a nerd like that. The atmosphere of the plantation was quaint, tropical, and was dripping with Spanish style architecture and gardens. Win! Drum roll...
After achieving a
small buzz from the tequila tour we were off to the marketplace. We came to a stop in front of this large building slapped with yellow paint. Many small shops and hole-in-the-wall eateries lined the walls. The other side opened up to a large square with a small clock tower and a fantastic view of the sparkling Gulf. I walked up to a food stall, ordered two tacos, put a little of all the sauces on ‘em and chomped away. Bits of lettuce protruded from the sides of my mouth and a little hot sauce dribbled down my chin. The corn tortilla and marinated meat melted together perfectly with the sauces. BEST. TACO. EVER. At this point I wasn’t getting back on the ship because I clearly had to marry the woman that just made this culinary taste explosion possible.
I know what you’re thinking: “Everything tastes good after drinking a bunch of tequila.” Ummmmm, no. Sure I’d sampled tequila but really it was only equivalent to about two regular-sized shots. The tacos were amazing (buzz or no buzz). So there! And moving on…
Next we went to El Camaron Dorado. Locals were telling us it was one
of the best places to eat on the island, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. They made some exquisite horchata (sweet rice milk) that complemented the food superbly. We finished off the day with some well-deserved beach time and some lounging by the pool, and then it was back to the hoard of tourists piling onto the ship.
We arrived back in Tampa the next day and as we drove home from the port I saw a Taco Bell and smirked. I thought of my could-have-been wife back in Cozumel making her delicious morsels... for another man, and then sulked the rest of the way home.
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