Cozumel Easter April 2009
Dca to Czm tickets purchased in August in 2008 for Easter 2009 were $650, almost $250 more than now. However, I booked on Orbitz and when the same itinerary was purchased for $422, Orbitz kicked back $228 for each of the (5) $ 650 tickets I had purchased, so Thanks and salute Orbitz. I will never buy tickets 8 months in advance again.
We arrived in Cozumel Friday April 3 to perfect weather, which held true our entire 10 day trip. My wife left her wallet at the immigration stand as we checked our party through. A very nice woman, Rhoda, from Michigan, found her wallet moments later. We picked up our bags, stressed through the x-ray of the bags, purchased our van tickets and waited in the van to leave for El Cantil. During the x-ray, the inspectors picked through each food item so make sure not to bring any meat or cheese, they will take it if seen. The nice woman from Michigan, Rhoda, attempted to find the holder of the wallet but we were already in the van and did not see her attempts. As we arrived at the condo, my wife realized her wallet was gone. A panicked trip to the airport yielded no wallet. As she was talking to me on the phone, on the way back to the condo, Rhonda, who had arrived at El Coz, called our home in Maryland with the fact she had our wallet. The taxi quickly turned to the north, greeted Rhonda and gathered the wallet, what a relief. Thank you so much, Rhonda.
A quick check in with Paula and Ramon and we are un-packing at El Cantil Casa Phoenix, 7A at Sur. El Cantil is across the street from Chedraui and just two blocks from the new Mega store. It is so convenient for our group of 6. We have brought along our oldest daughters boyfriend and our youngest daughters longtime friend from down the street. We head to Mega and 1100 pesos later we have a start on the week’s groceries. Be careful on the escalator at Mega as the cart got stuck on the landing, causing my wife a cut and bruise.
We have a full fridge and dive boat reservations for the week. Our first night we have dinner at Los Otates, which we always find good. Pozole, frijoles charros, guacamole, etc. We finish our night with a trip to the plaza and Tony Rome’s to say hey and our first night is done.
My regular dive op was not working Saturday so I booked a dive trip on Belinda, The fast boat of Aqua Safari. Thanks Georgina for last minute reservations. Joining me was DS2 from this, and other boards about Cozumel. She now has a home on Cozumel and is always doing something for the people of Cozumel. Salute Debbie. We are off to Colombia; DM Mariano is our guide today. He is very good and of course he finds a pipe horse and a seahorse. Deb is very busy with her reef research. Our second dive is at Colombia Shallows, always fun, and we are back at the dock by 1 p.m.
I have some prep and baking to do for some guest I have coming to the condo Palm Sunday. Albert from Primas/Wynstons was good enough to sell me a whole beef tenderloin. They sell USDA choice meats at the restaurant. We are going to Kelly’s for the Final Four. They had lots of big screen viewing available. We had dinners, appetizers and a few drinks, $1100 pesos for six of us. Back to the square for some music and we are home by 10 p.m.
I had no diving planned for Sunday and Monday. We have a dinner party today and our family is going to Punta Sur parque on Monday. Our dinner and swim party Palm Sunday was such fun. Jeremy and his crew from the Jewfish, Captain Francisco and mate Ricardo and their families joined us. Jeremy and his crew from Living Underwater spoil me so much on the boat I wanted to return the favor. Debbie (DS2) from the boards also joined us. Along with roast beef I also had fried chicken, mashed potatoes and for dessert chocolate coconut torte and banana cream pie. Good ole home cooking Americano style. After dinner we swam for a couple hours before everyone headed out around 7 p.m. Our family once again headed to the plaza for the traditional Sunday night activities.
Monday at 9 a.m. our two rental beaters show up right on time. Sol y Mar brought us a VW convertible and a Geo Tracker. We head south down the beach road and arrive at Punta Sur parque around 10 a.m. After paying $10 USD per person you slowly drive along the ocean past the crocodile viewing and park at the lighthouse. A bus takes you the last couple miles to a beautiful beach park. Shaded hammocks, a restaurant, snack bar and rental stands are available. We grab a couple umbrellas and the s shaped chairs and take it all in. You swim to the southern end of the reef and drift northward while you snorkel. Rest areas are located every so often to provide a rest area. Men in kayaks keep a watchful eye on the snorklers. A beautiful area and very peaceful and quiet, much different from the beach clubs to the north. We head out about 2 p.m. and go to Playa Bonita. Severe erosion has ate away the beach and undermined the walk ways at the restaurant. If it keeps up it will be Playa feo. Our lunches were very good and the service was fantastic.
Monday night was the finals of the NCAA basketball tournament. Our kids stayed at the condo and we head again to Kelly’s. We reach it at 7 p.m. and it is standing room only. Oh, well. We head to town with the idea of Jeannie’s, which has several televisions. However, as we approached we decide on the Cigar Bar. It is a nice little place and when we went in we see CozSally who was meeting friends for bridge. We settle in and order great cheese steaks and an avocado salad. The game was a blow out and we head back at half time. As we walk down the street I noticed a cool north breeze has come in. It continued through the night and blew all our porch furniture into a big pile. Jeremy calls at 7 a.m. to say the boat will not sail today. Some boats did sail around noon but it stayed rough all day. Tuesday turned into a lazy pool day, oh well.
Wednesday we load at Caleta because of rough seas at El Cantil. We head south to Colombia deep and roll back at 8:24 for 70 minutes at 92fsw. Colombia is always beautiful and today was no exception. We do a 1 ½ hour surface interval at Caracol pier. Our second dive is at Yucab for 78 minutes at 56 fsw. The kids spend the morning at San Gervasio. The low humidity and cool breeze made for a perfect day at San Gervasio. Wednesday night we go back for Pozole at Los Otates and an early evening.
The Jewfish pulls up to the condo pier at 7:30 Thursday morning. We are off to Maracaibo. Maracaibo is always one of my favorite sites. A dramatic wall, awesome sea fans and growth. As you ascend from the deep you go up a curved face on the wall which is a site to see. We come upon a splendid toadfish at 110 feet, which may be the deepest I have ever saw one. This was a planned deco dive and I reached 149 fsw, my personal deepest dive ever. I don’t know how it happened but my strobe flooded either on the dive or shortly after. The pictures from that dive came out, but as I descended on Santa Rosa, our second dive, smoke came out of my strobe. Boo-hoo. Maybe Ikelite will be able to save it. Santa Rosa was perfect today, 70 minutes at 82 fsw, a gentle current and great viz. We had two juvenile Eagle Rays below us on our safety stop, the only two I saw all week. I am diving with Guppie, Bayless and Dave Miller this week, all of which are very good divers. We pick up a kilo of aracherra from HC Monterey, when added to a stack of warm tortillas and some beans and rice from Chedraui make a fine dinner, for under twenty bucks total.
After diving at the far south end of the island Thursday we head north to Barracuda on Friday. Barracuda is usually a thrill ride and today was no exception. Two divers had issues on descent, so we waited for them, and we find ourselves having to swim to the wall. We were huffing and puffing when we reached the wall. Once we got settled we just go for a ride. I did not even bring my camera on the dive. It is too much effort to stop and shoot. 96 fsw for maximum depth. Our surface interval is at the dock near Playa Azul hotel. We have the Captain’s masa/egg/tomato casserole, chicken salad tortas, banana cream pie and cookies. A very pleasant SI. Our second dive is San Juan. It has much less current and is a nice reef to cruise along at. There is lots of fish and great growth on the reef. Since the northern reefs are close to town I am dropped off at the dock at noon. Tammy and the kids have gone to Paradise Beach club. 10 dollars gets you all the water activities including kayaks, snorkeling, water slides, icebergs, etc. The posted taxi fare was 190 pesos for five from El Cantil to the club, which what was charged.On the way back, cab 268 said no way, 26 bucks. Make sure you have a settled price before departure, the cabbies are hungry. Every one had a good time at the club and had lunch at the new Parilla Mission sur between Puerto Maya and International pier.
Our gracious host at El Cantil Casa Phoenix presented us with a dinner at Primas/Wynstons last Friday night. What a pleasant evening. Joined by our friends from Louisiana/Cozumel Jim and Donna, our family had a great time. We had appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. Donna and I had the herb crusted rack of lamb,$28,yes,rack of lamb in Cozumel. Not a double cut chop but a full rack, cooked perfect medium rare, with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies. Awesome Caesar salads,$5.00, were also had by 3 of us. I also had the fried calamari,$7.00, with marinara. My wife’s dinner was the bacon wrapped filet mignon,$16, with mushroom demi glace, also cooked perfect medium rare, and Jim had the Delmonico,$18.00.Our kids had chicken parmesan,$13.00, and fettuccini alfredo,$10.They also had hot fudge brownie sundaes with home made vanilla ice cream for dessert. A bottle of Coppola California cabernet was shared by the adults. I can't tell you what a great dinner we had, muy bueno. The view of the sea as the sun set and then the view of the malecon is very nice. The owner of the restaurant also greeted each table as he checked on the meals served. Casa Phoenix is a large 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom condo with a huge deck and hot tub, 7 stories up looking over the sea. It has plenty of room and the house keeper was the best ever. She traded me my cookies for her chicken salbutes, a good deal says I.
Saturday morning arrives all to fast and my last two dives of the week are upon me. Palancar Caves, bricks, gardens and my now ritual last dive of the week, Cedar Pass or Cedral. Tad and Tom from Houston are with us today, I had dove with them previously on Jewfish in November of 2007. I settle up with Jeremy and lay back to enjoy our last night on the isla for awhile. We have dinner at Parilla Mission with all our favorite tortas, tacos and sopa de lima.
Tammy and I head east past Corpus Christi church before packing. The aroma from the Sunday morning pork stands cooking cochinita pibil is awesome. It is like a magnet, but we stay strong, just enjoying the aroma. Out on 35 is the Mecca from what we understand. A little market named el Aro was just about to open at 7:15. Last week we walked by at 11 a.m. and he had sold out so get there between 8 and 9. It is worth the walk just for the aroma. We head back on five to the sea, grab some turkey and fresh tortas from mega for the plane, and begin the dreaded task of packing up to go home .
Easter activities were far fewer than previous Easter visits. I saw no carnival or much activity outside the plaza this Holy week. We had 10 great days of sunshine with low humidity.
Friends ask why I go back time after time to Cozumel. It is a different adventure each time and after a dozen trips I still eagerly look forward to my next trip. The Ravens have an away game the first week in November, so maybe then, I sure hope so. I always meet new folks and look forward to seeing the ones I know. Cozumel is also a very good value, IMHO. I highly recommend Living Underwater and Casa Phoenix for your families vacation.