Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Caribbean Cruise Adventure - Day 6

[Composed 11/24/2017]

Our plan today was to get off the ship, find the correct Avis car rental office and make a break to Punta Sur, an 'eco park' located at the far tip of the island of Cozumel. Much to my surprise, this actually all worked. Despite Google Map's insistence, there is indeed an Avis Car Rental just across the street from the Mega Mart, which is just a couple of blocks away from the port. Pro Tip: the Mega Mart is essentially a Super Target, and served as the ideal place to pick up last minute supplies without overpaying.

In preparation for our stop in Cozumel we rented a car. As the day approached, we became more and more sure that this was a bad idea. What would the condition of the roads be? What about traffic? Will the police be a problem? Within 10 minutes of renting our car and getting on the road, all our fears were allayed. There's one main road that circles the island, and it's in fine shape. Traffic was a breeze and there was definitely nothing to stress about. We almost certainly could have made do with cabs, but having a car gave us plenty of freedom and was the right move to make.

Upon arriving in Punta Sur, I was blown away by the pristine beauty of the area. I was also shocked by the the size of the park. The hope with the lagoon, was that we'd see crocodiles. Alas, that didn't happen. But we did see interesting birds, including a number of flamingos off in the distance. I can't recall seeing a flamingo in the wild, so that was a huge treat.

From the lagoon we made our way to the lighthouse and navigation museum. While poking around the museum a park ranger approached me and basically asked: do you want to see something cool? On one hand, hell yes, I do! Show me, show me, show me. On the other hand, this sounds like a great way to be lead into the woods and robbed at knife point. I tried to get a bit more info from him, but ultimately, we decided to go with the flow. The ranger led us on a short trail, past a crocodile and into the woods. However, instead of being robbed at knife point, he showed us to another viewing platform and hoped to show us some additional wild life. The ranger, George, couldn't have been nicer. He was fun to chat with and definitely gave us a tour we wouldn't normally have seen. Apparently there's an un-written rule that the park rangers can show around tourists in exchange for tips. So yeah, keep that in mind if you're approached.

After seeing some interesting birds and yet another hefty sized iguana, it was time to hit the beach.

Punta Sur, unlike Harvest Caye, does offer some interesting snorkeling opportunities. The catch is that you have to swim to the reef before you're supposed to see anything. I had brought our masks and snorkels, and we had no problem getting life vests. But I was too impatient to rent flippers. I stood in line for a few minutes, but quickly gave up. This was mistake number one. Shira, not a huge fan of snorkeling, joined me for this adventure and I quickly rushed us into the water. After we'd been paddling for 10 minutes (which of course, felt like forever), Shira tried the snorkeling gear I gave her. She dunked her head under water, and came up 20 seconds later, to announce that she was breathing in water. Naturally, I did what any supportive husband would do, and told her: no you're not, just try again. And she did. And she reported the same problem. Finally, I decided to trade gear with her. D'oh, sure enough her snorkel was damaged and yes, caused the user to breathe in water. Did we return to shore at that point to get proper gear, including fins?

No, no we did not. Again, I wanted my reef time so bad I could taste it. I gave Shira the working snorkel and used my mask only. After what seemed like an eternity of doggy paddling we arrived at a marker which was supposed to be the reef. Looking under water a I saw a bit of coral, but not the awesome display I was hoping for. However, as we swam parallel to the beach, the activity picked up. Ultimately, the reef totally delivered. There were lots of varieties of fish and plenty of fan and brain coral. A couple of fellow snorkelers even pointed out a sting ray. Of course, I had to take all this in in short bursts, as I was doing this minus a working snorkel. But still, it was worth it.

And then came the long slog back to the beach. We made it, but I'll never again get Shira in the water for snorkeling without: (a) a complete set of equipment, and (b) testing the equipment in shallow water. D'oh.

After our swimming adventure and some OK fish tacos, it was time to leave Punta Sur and head back to the boat.

We had an all-aboard time of 4:30pm, and at 3:50pm we hit traffic. For about 12 nail-biting minutes, Shira and I envisioned missing our boat. If we did, you'll never guess who's fault it would be? It was I that didn't bother checking Google Maps (which has traffic data) to find the fastest route to the boat. And it was I, who insisted on stopping for just one more us'ie (like a selfie, but of us). Yep, if we missed the boat, it would be squarely my responsibility. Thankfully traffic cleared, and we were aboard with plenty of time. Heck, we got to watch as families ran toward the boat at 4:50pm, to try to catch us (which they did).

Man, was today a packed day. Cozumel is our last port of call this trip, and it was nice to finish on a high note. Tomorrow we get to collect our thoughts with a day at sea. After overdoing it today, I'm actually looking forward to slowing things down a bit.

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