Day 13 ~ Wednesday October 1st
Despite last night`s late retirement, yet again I was wide awake as the ship slowed down for it`s entry into the dock at Cozumel. Today was the first occasion when we felt obliged to keep our curtains onto the veranda closed because we had moored right alongside one of the Carnival ships and didn`t want any of our newly acquired neighbours peeking into our stateroom! :gy:
Our shore excursion for today was to be the “Cozumel Highlights and Mayan Ruins” tour which was not due to commence until 12.15pm. Although we could have gone ashore at around 9.45am, we decided to spend the morning on board the ship, leaving the exploration of the immediate vicinity of the area until later as we were not due to depart from Cozumel until 1.00am the following day. [ This was later that the original scheduled departure time and I was told that this was by way of a small “thank you gesture” for all of the CM`s who had worked so hard recently when the ship was in dry dock, thus enabling them some free time ashore].
Following our now customary breakfast at Lumiere`s, my DW went for a swim on deck 9 while I found a comfy lounger on deck 4 to carry on reading my book and watching the folks disembarking the “Magic” and on this occasion also, the Carnival ship, as they walked like ants along the dockside.
I then went up to collect my DW and we stopped by Signals Bar for a chat with Pio before grabbing a snack from Goofy`s Gallery on deck 9….. they do a great assortment of sandwiches and snacks at this outlet…..before our assembly at the Promenade Lounge for the start of our tour at 12.15pm.
Groups of us were escorted away from the ship to the bus park which was a few minutes walk away from the ship. The atmosphere here was of a dusty, poor area compared with the Cayman Islands although as we were later informed, Cozumel has suffered from numerous hurricanes over the years and rebuilding has been a slow process.
Our guide for the tour was a guy of Mayan descent named Patricio who introduced us to the driver [Pepe], giving us a brief history of the place over his microphone as we drove along. As my DW and I were among the last to board the bus, we had to be separated for the journey as there were no adjacent seats free but in the end this worked out fine as I was able to grab a seat alongside another guy right at the front of the coach.
Our first stop was at the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio. Unlike the ruins we had seen at Costa Maya on an earlier cruise, the ruins at San Gervasio were what can only be described as “ruined ruins”! The reason being that unlike the relatively “pristine” discoveries at Costa Maya, these ruins had been discovered by a guy upon who`s land they were located and he had come across them by accident. Thinking that there may have been some buried treasure therein, he decided to “excavate” using dynamite, thus destroying much of what was left. :mad:
Nevertheless Patricio did his best to explain in detail what the various buildings were like when they were originally constructed and for what purpose they were built. [Tip…the Cozumel ruins at Tulum would be much more interesting for anyone doing this particular cruise. :thumbs_up:]
From here Pepe drove us along the coast road to El Mirador where we had a great view of the ocean on our left, driving along the coast road which had been completely destroyed when hurricane Wilma struck. During the journey, Patricio pointed out numerous turtle nests which were marked by sticks and coloured flags before telling us a bit about the local wildlife on the island.
Apparently he can recall as a boy when there were loads of parrots on the island that used to fly to and from the mainland at certain times of the year. There were no snakes on the island until the time when filming was taking place and the film crew brought in several constrictor snakes like boa`s and foolishly, after the filming was over they released the snakes into the wild and they wiped out these indigenous birds. It just goes to show that you shouldn`t mess with nature.
We made a short stop along the beach where we were immediately swamped by locals trying to sell us all sorts of touristy items, however they weren`t too aggressive in their endeavours so we managed to graciously decline their offers!
On our previous visit to Cozumel we stopped at a really nice beach resort along this road, however this area had long since been abandoned as a sunbathing location!
Our final stop was only a short distance away at a place named El Cedral and this is where many of the islanders congregate on a regular basis for religious purposes. Here there was a small church, a ruin and an open market area [c/w a guy offering donkey rides to the tourists] as well as the customary tourist shops.
One thing I found strange was that on the one hand, Patricio seemed very concerned about the island`s wildlife [remember the turtles and parrot/snake tale?], and yet he seemed to be promoting the sale of the black coral jewellery of which Cozumel is famous for. Doesn`t he know that coral also is a living organism that has taken thousands of years to grow?
It almost goes without saying that we didn`t buy any coral.
The bus arrived back at the town centre at around 5.00pm and my DW and I went for a coffee before visiting a few of the shops.
There is a new small shopping mall right by the terminal building but most folks walk along the main shopping street by the ocean. This is an experience in itself, and I remember it well from our previous visit. You cannot walk more than a few paces on one side of the street without the traders hassling you to enter their shops, and if you cross over the road to escape them then the bumper to bumper line of taxi cab drivers on that side of the road try to hassle you for a taxi ride!
We did however venture into one shop [as recommended in the shopping guide given out by DCL], as my DW saw a leather handbag that she fancied. After quite a bit of haggling [I knew that my experiences in Cairo would pay dividends some day ], the shopkeeper and I agreed a price and the deal was struck. Politely avoiding the offer to add more to our purchase, we decided to make our way back to the ship at around 5.45pm.
The show at the Buena Vista Theatre tonight was called “Twice Charmed…an original twist on the Cinderella Story” which was due to start at 6.15pm, to be repeated at 8.30pm for those taking the first dinner seating.
As we didn`t have sufficient time to bathe and get ready for dinner, for the first time ever we saw the show in the clothes we had been wearing all day, opting for a seat alone on the back row just in case the day`s heat had caused any b.o. problems. This was a show that we had not seen before and I`m glad that we had made the effort as it was West End/Broadway class which the audience very much appreciated.
Suitably washed and changed my DW and I went for our usual cocktail in Sessions, meeting up with Tom and his DW again from where we went to Animator`s Palate for dinner.
Tonight was to be the night of the “show” at this restaurant. I won`t give too much away here so as not to spoil it for anyone who has yet to experience it but the effects which take place over dinner justify the huge price tag of the cost of the restaurant`s build, as bit by bit the whole place changes from monochrome to a riot of colour and even Mickey puts in an appearance! Definitely not to be missed so make sure not to book Palo`s when it is your “show” night there!
After a walk around the almost deserted decks which made for some good photo opportunities, we said “Hello” to yet another towel animal in our stateroom .
Tonight was the first time that I`ve ever slept as we left any port of call. Hmmm, I wonder if the ship`s horn sounded at 1.00am?
Tomorrow is another “day at sea”.