Friday, May 27, 2011

Cozumel - A Vacation Within A Vacation

We arrived at Playa del Carmen in the early afternoon after a fairly easy day of riding expecting to hop on a ferry at 5PM and take the quick 45 minute ride to Cozumel, all of which I thought I had read online.  Unfortunately, we were wrong to think it would be that easy.  After stopping to ask a policeman on a four-wheeler who only spoke Spanish, we deciphered that we needed to go down the highway another five miles past the city and catch the "car" ferry which we quickly realized was more of a "double semi truck" ferry.  Giant semis were lined up four hours early for the 6PM ferry that took two hours (not including loading/unloading time) to get to Cozumel.  It could cost certain semis over $1000 one way to board the ship so we figured they probably had to be carrying some expensive cargo.  Luckily, it was cheaper for us and the bike to get to Cozumel than it would have been if Ty and I left the bike and took the passenger ferry.  They finally started to load everyone which took about an hour and we boarded the ship operated by Trans Caribe.  They had a couple of American movies playing throughout the ship, a snack bar and even a little play area for people who had brought their kids with them.  We headed up to the top deck to check out the views and enjoy some cool sea breezes. 

Waiting in line to get on the cargo ship.
Ty with our bike in the cargo area of the boat.

The ship pulled into a giant dock a few hours later and somehow we managed to be one of the first off the boat.   We drove down the oceanside road towards "Casa Cross," a beautiful home owned by our good friend Joanna's dad and stepmom, Jim and Dee.  When we were in New Orleans, Joanna mentioned that they owned a house in Cozumel and that they wouldn't mind if we used their place on our way through Mexico.  We were so glad that we made the trip, as Cozumel is such a beautiful spot, and are so grateful that Jim and Dee (and Joanna!) were nice enough to work everything out for our visit; it would have been quite a bit out of our budget otherwise.  I can guarantee that it will be the nicest accommodation on our trip by far and it was such a relaxing, fun getaway.  We arrived to the house to meet Kelly, an American expat who has been living in Cozumel for nine years now.  She was very laid back and friendly, exactly what I would have expected from an island gal.  After showing us the house (I'm sure she was laughing as we couldn't keep from smiling looking around our new digs for the next week!) she headed out.  I walked into one of the guest bedrooms and saw a rather large (3+ inches across) furry spider on the ground.  At first, I thought it was probably Jim playing a practical joke on whomever happened to stay in the room.  However, when it began to crawl across the floor, I howled for Ty, who came to my rescue with a container in hand.  We couldn't really squish it, Ty said, as it had actually body mass.  After the tarantula was safely contained outside we crashed into our comfy, big bed for the night. 

Our new (unwelcome) friend next to a quarter.
He was later released at the beach...

 As Cozumel was our longest trip so far, I think I will just do some highlights of the trip:

·          Getting to spend some major time at the beach.  We thought we would be taking a break from the bike for the week, but it turns out that we used it as much as always!  The most beautiful, secluded beaches are on the other side of the island (our favorite spot, Playa Bonita, was probably 25 miles from the house) so we took rides along the beach most days.  Watching the little "crab-men" build their homes on the beach could entertain us for hours, along with swimming and jumping rather large waves.
My beach bum relaxing in a hammock at our favorite spot

·         Snorkeling at Playa Corona was another big highlight.  Ty had never been so it was especially fun and we were able to see an abundance of sealife.  I bet we saw 40 different kinds of fish and a variety of beautiful plantlife as well.  We didn't even have to rent gear as Jim and Dee provided everything at the house!

·         Having a grocery store around the corner and having a kitchen with a huge fridge were both amazing things, and we utilized them the whole time.  I think we ate out twice in the week we were there.  It was nice to have a sandwich and chips like at home and it was expecially nice to save a little money!  I even got to have cereal and coffee every morning, which those who know me know I could live off of cereal and coffee.  And I made homemade guacamole!

·         There is an awesome movie theater next door to the grocery store and we were able to see two movies while we were here.  Nightlife is not huge in Cozumel, so movies are where it's at!  We saw Piratas del Caribe 4 in 3D (best 3D either of us had ever seen, nevermind that the movie wasn't amazing) and Rapidos y Furiosos sin Control 5.  Both movies were in English and subtitled in Spanish so I think we were in the small population of movie-goers who didn't have to read the subtitles!

·         Mojitos and “Iguanas” at Rasta’s on the beach…I think Ty and I will agree on this one that these were some of the best drinks we have ever had! Not to mention the atmosphere was just our style being a Reggae beach bar…We could’ve stayed forever! 
The bike in front of Rasta's

An "Iguana" and a Mojito...sooo good!

·         Meeting Darren, Tammy, Brad (all from Canada) and Chanel (from Australia) at the beach (I hope I didn’t butcher the spelling of your names too badly!) They were nice enough to invite us to dinner with them at La Choza and then treated us!  Brad had just proposed to Chanel on the beach a week earlier and Tammy and Darren (Brad’s brother) had gotten married in September.  Both couples were extremely well traveled and we really enjoyed their stories and had a lot in common with all of them.  If you guys are reading this, keep in touch, okay? 

·         Getting to relax at Jim and Dee's house and on the beautiful balcony was such a nice treat!  Thanks so much to both of you...we appreciate it so much!  And thanks also to Joanna for working everything are the best :)

One more stop in Mexico (Tulum) and then onto Belize!