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COZUMEL

,
QUINTANA ROO, MEXICO

THE EAST COAST OF THE ISLAND IS ROCKY AND MAJESTIC.

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Originally, I had planed, on my return form Cuba, to take the bus to Puerto Morelos and catch the truck ferry to Cozumel

`02/May/21 Tuesday. Returning from Cuba I found inclement weather in Cancun. As I was carrying a notebook in my back pack and I don't know how waterproof my back pack is I was worried about getting my notebook wet so I took the bus from the airport to the main intersection in Cancun, $40, walked across the street to the Mayab office, and caught the next bus to Playa Del Carmen.

The Maya bus to Cozumel, leaves every 15 minutes and only cost $26. The bus I was on broke down, near the intersection to Puerto Morelos. After only a few minutes they put us on a Rivera bus that took us into the heart of Playa Del Carmen, corner of Ave. Benito Juarez and Ave. 5, only a short walk to the wharf where I caught the ferry to Cozumel.

(Walking the dock from the ferry)
PEOPLE HEADING FOR THE FERRY DOCK
(Looking onto the dock from shore.)
FERRY DOCK
(Looking at the dock from further South )
FERRY DOCK
P & O GRAND PRINCESS
(Cruise ship at next wharf)
ONE WHARF DOWN FROM THE FERRY TERMINAL
A WHARF FOR VISITING VESSELS
(Coast Guard ship at next wharf)
US COAST GUARD
NORWEGIAN SUN
(Cruise ship at next wharf)
COZUMEL AVERAGES A CRUISE SHIP A DAY

While aboard the ferry you should pick up two things, both free, a small blue booklet entitled, FREE BLUE GUIDE TO COZUMEL, and a small brochure entitled, FREE GRATIS MAPS.

The first has all kinds of information, such as a list of the hotels, with their rates and services, and a map, showing the location of the hotels and an explanation of the street system.

Streets are divided into North and South. The dividing line is Av. Benito Juarez.

All streets to the South are numbered unevenly, except for Adolfo R. Salas, which lies between Calle 1 and Calle 2.

All streets to the North are numbered evenly.

All avenues are numbered in multiples of 5, Ave. 15, 20, 25, etc. So, if you walk from Av. 5 to Av. 25 you have not walked 20 blocks.

The second pamphlet contains a street map of Cozumel as well as one of Playa Del Carmen. It also contains some discount coupons for shopping and eating.

Talk about being in Canada , they have a TGI Friday's, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Radio Shack, Dairy Queen, and a Burger King.

Walking through the plaza, at Playa Del Carmen, you will see more than one place that sells tickets for the ferry. At the large kiosk close to the ferry I bought a return ticket. I can't find my receipt so I don't know if I saved money by buying return, though I don't think so, and I can't remember what the price was.

Once off the ferry I walked across the street to the main plaza or El Centro and went to the North side. I enquired at a couple of hotels but their prices were a little high. One of them directed me to the other side of El Centro where they thought I could find something more in my price range.

On the South side of the plaza, towards the Eastern corner is the Hotel Lopez. Here the rates start at $224 but with a little bargaining I got the top floor room, as it didn't have air conditioning, why anyone would want air-conditioning is beyond me.

Had I taken the time to look further afield I may have found something a little cheaper or if I was a more astute bargainer I may have gotten a better price. As it was I agreed to take the room for four days for a total of $600 or $150 a night, which is about $30 Canadian.

THOUGH YOU MAY NOT SPEAK SPANISH, As in any hotel in Mexico, the desk clerk will understand, if you want to see the room

  • Check for what is important to you.
  • Dose the toilet have a seat?
  • Do both taps work, on the sink and in the shower?
  • Is there hot water? how long does it take to get hot? does it get hot enough?
  • Electrical outlets?
  • Desk and chair?
  • Extra blanket?
  • Is there a fan? do all speeds work?

    (Entrance to hotel)
    HOTEL LOPEZ
    (Bottom of spiral stairs in hotel)
    SPIRAL STAIRCASE
    (top down, spiral stairs in hotel) (room)
    (Bathroom) VIEW FROM HOTEL
    (View to West from rooftop)
    I SHARED THE ROOFTOP WITH ONE OTHER ROOM.
    LOOKING WEST FROM THE ROOF TOP
    ON THE HORIZON, THE BUILDINGS OF PLAYA DEL CARMEN
    (View to West from rooftop)
    LOOKING WEST
    (View to North from rooftop)
    LOOKING NORTH OVER EL CENTRO
    (View to East from rooftop)
    LOOKING EAST, ALONG CALLE 1 SUR (1ST ST. SOUTH)
    (Restaurant next door)
    RESTAURANT - DORADOS DE VILLA

    (NOTE: I took Serena to Cozumel in `04 with plans to spend a night in the Lopez but, unfortunately, it was closed. I believe, permanently.)

    All my fears of getting soaked were for naught as after a short nap I awoke to sunshine.

    Next door to the Hotel Lopez is a nice restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere, friendly staff, good prices and excellent service. I had Burritos for the princely sum of $55.

    On Wednesday I rented a scooter from a little hole in the wall, about two blocks East of El Centro on Calle 1 Sur. Their office may not be big but they have a large selection of scooters.

    When you rent the scooter the fuel tank is full and they check the machine for scratches and dents.

    I don't remember wearing a helmet. I found out later you are required to do so, by law.

    I rented the scooter for a half day, rather than 24 hours.

    The price was $250. Extra hours are $10 I used a cash deposit of $500 plus I bought the insurance which was another $70.

    If you are not using a credit card then you will need a drivers license or passport for ID.

    You are expected to fill the fuel tank before you return the bike.

    There are only two services stations on the island, both in the central core. Try to avoid going there during the afternoon rush hour.

    From the scooter shop I wound my way through sides streets to the Northern edge of the city and then worked my way over to Av. Rafael E. Melgar, which is the most Westerly street in town.

    Av. Rafael Melgar is the main street, or road, which runs the length of the island following the Western shore. It doesn't go very far North from the downtown core. After going past the Yacht Club, Resorts, and the military air base it ends in an undeveloped subdivision.

    Near the far end, across from one of the resorts, I bought a most excellent torta from a vendor who had his bicycle parked under the shade of a palm tree.

    About half way along the street, on the water, but no beach, they are rebuilding an old building. I stopped in at Coldwell Banker who are handling the sales. The cheapest unit, a 1 bedroom apartment, will be $1,500,000.

    (Scooters lined up on street)
    RENTADORA `CHAC'
    (Scooter rental office)
    RENTADORA `CHAC'
    (Street with trees down the middle)
    AV. RAFAEL E. MELGAR
    (Resorts along North Shore)
    RESORTS - NORTHERN HOTEL ZONE
    (Nice house along the street.)
    CASA
    (Boats in a small harbour)
    YACHT CLUB
    (Old military airplane on stand at gate to air base)
    AIR FORCE
    (Buildings along the water)
    BEACH FRONT NEAR DOWNTOWN

    After turning South I went through the main part of town, past the wharf and stores and the little plaza with the large flag pole and two large birds.

    I cruised past all the resorts and over to the South-Eastern tip but I didn't go down to the light house as it cost $15 to proceed past the parking lot and walk through the Punta Sur Ecological Park.

    (Small plaza, large flag pole.)
    SMALL PLAZA NEXT TO THE FERRY WHARF
    (Public beach)
    PUBLIC BEACH FRONT NEAR DOWNTOWN
    (Public beach)
    PUBLIC BEACH FRONT SOUTH OF DOWNTOWN
    (Entrance to Punta Sur)
    PUNTA SUR

    I continued on the road, turning North. Here the road follows the rugged Eastern shore, open to the winds and waves from the Mar Caribe.

    I visited a tourist stop where people walk out onto rocks that waves have carved holes in. The waves shoot through the holes, high into the air.

    Later I stopped for a swim along a lovely stretch of beach, diving and jumping into the huge waves.

    The sun burn on my back didn't appreciate the sun or the salt water and became very prickly. This continued to bother me for several more days, which meant I had to limit my exposure to the sun.

    (Tourist on a point of rock.)
    EL MIRADOR - TOURISTS DODGE WAVES FOR A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
    (Ruin style concession stand)
    A KIOSK, DESIGNED LIKE AN OLD RUIN
    (Large waves rolling in)
    THERE ARE MILES OF CLEAN BEACHES ON THE EAST COAST

    A short distance North I came across a pleasant little restaurant at, Playa Bonita. Here I had an excellent meal of quesadillas.

    PLAYA BONITA

    (Long stretch of beach curving out into the water.)
    LOOKING NORTH TOWARDS THE RESTAURANT

    (Restaurant) (View of beach from restaurant)

    It is a fairly long stretch of unpopulated road from Punta Sur to Punta Morena and sometime you think you are getting lost but at Punta Morena the road turns back inland.

    There is a road that continues further North along the beach but it is an off-road road for jeeps and ATVs. (You can see pictures of that in my ATV story at the bottom of this story.)

    (Miles of jungle.)
    JUNGLE
    (Bird in the sky)
    BIRD?
    (Bird on a tree top in jungle)
    BIRD?

    After enjoying a short siesta in my hotel, and feeling more confident at the controls of the scooter, I tackled the streets of the town. If I didn't tour all of them, I covered most of them.

    I also managed to locate the four table dance clubs, which are mostly in the South East corner of town except for the one that is on the road to Punta Morena.

    After I found the service station, corner of Av. Benito Juarez and Calle 25, I filled up the tank and took the scooter back to the rental.

    Then I walked a few streets until I came across Chinatown in the form of the `Asian Garden' restaurant where I had an excellent `House Lo Mein'.

    While dinning I met a gentleman from Poland who was taking a break from his duties as a drummer in the band aboard the cruise ship that was based out of Galveston Texas and comes to Cozumel once a week.

    Thursday was a quiet day as on Wednesday I had increased the sunburn on my bald spot by not wearing a helmet. I couldn't wear my straw hat while riding as it would have blown off.

    The day started with a light shower but the clouds blew away shortly after.

    I wandered over to the Dairy Queen, with the craving for a banana split, but, in this land of bananas, they didn't have any.

    I walked many streets looking for a laundromat that I had seen while riding my scooter. I never found the one I was looking for but I found two others; $2 for 10 min. in the dryer. $3 for the washer. $12 for drop off of 6 items. Laundry is much cheaper in Cancun.

    In the afternoon I went for a swim at the public beach close to downtown. The beach is nice, above the water line, but you have to search for a path through the rock to get out in the water.

    Friday morning I booked an ATV Jungle Tour.

    COZUMEL ATV JUNGLE TOUR

    2002 May 24. I booked an ATV Jungle Tour with one of the many sales kiosks scattered around El Centro in Cozumel. At noon I met with the salesman and he walked me to the town center, by the ferry terminal, and introduced me to the bus driver. Thereby saving having to write out a receipt and ticket for the tour.

    2004 Mar. Author's note: When I went to Cozumel in `04 this trip was not in existence.

    (People waiting to board a van..)
    I JOINED TWO COUPLES FROM DENVER, COLORADO, USA
    (Me on an ATV.)
    LEE (ME) ON A BIKE
    (ATVs on the trail, tight view.)
    THE NARROW TRAIL WOUND THROUGH THE DENSE JUNGLE
    (ATVs on the trail, wide view.)
    THOUGH WE, OFTEN, COULDN'T SEE IT
    WE WERE, USUALLY, CLOSE TO THE BEACH

    Approximately half way in our trip we stopped at Playa Las Tortugas for cokes and a short swim but the water was too yucky to see the rocks underneath and the waves were too high to kayak out to the reef for snorkelling.
    This area was once a breeding ground for turtles and had been posted as a sanctuary.
    However, after posting, the turtles were even more molested so they took down the signs.

    (Guides on beach.)
    USING AN OLD CABLE DRUM FOR A COUNTER
    THE GUIDES OFFERED US FREE REFRESHMENT
    (People on the beach.)
    BECAUSE OF A STORM NEAR CUBA
    THE WATER WAS ROUGH

    Since we didn't go snorkelling we had more time and the guides took us to an ancient ruin.

    (Me, outside the ruin.)
    ME, AT THE ENTRANCE INTO THE RUIN
    (Guide, at the entrance into the ruin.)
    GUIDE, INSIDE THE ENTRANCE INTO THE RUIN
    (People inside the ruin.)
    L. to R.: MICHELLE; GUIDE IN TRAINING; ALLAN; RON; DARA; FREDDY
    FREDDY TELLS US HOW PRIESTS WOULD
    LIVE IN THIS SMALL ROOM FOR SEVERAL YEARS
    NOTE THE SMALL WINDOW TO DARA'S RIGHT
    (Boarding our ATVs.)
    WAITING FOR ANOTHER GUIDE

    (Sitting on ATVs at side of trail.)
    ON THE WAY OUT WE STOPPED FOR A REST AND TO ALLOW OTHER TRAFFIC TO PASS
    (A small snake.)

    ON THE WAY BACK THE GUIDE CHASED
    A SMALL SNAKE OFF THE ROAD

    On the way back we stopped at a smaller ruin.

    (A crumbling wall.)
    THE GUIDE SHOWS US WHERE TO STAND
    (Me on the wall.)
    A HAND ON EACH WALL, CLOSE YOUR EYES, AND MAKE A WISH
    (The group in front of the wall.) (Restaurant.)
    ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE TOUR COMPANY
    AT PUNTA MORENOS, WE ARE GIVEN AN EXCELLENT MEAL
    OF CHICKEN & TORTILLAS AT SENOR IGUANA'S RESTAURANT & BAR

    The van takes the short way home and had us back at our hotels by 6 PM

    Friday night I took a taxi to La Placha, one of the table-dance clubs. I was worn out from the ATV tour so I only stayed for 2 beers.

    I bought 2 tickets for 2 draws for a free table dance, but one other fellow, who I think was too drunk to realize, won both.

    I chose to walk back to my room as it was nearly a full moon. About half way back it started to rain. I searched for a taxi but couldn't find one. However the rain only lasted a little while and I only got damp.

    During the rain the moon kept shining.

    When it rains while the sun is shinning they call it a sun shower, would this be called a moon shower?

    (Chinese Restaurant.)
    CHINATOWN
    (Band standing at edge of El Centro. Pic taken from rooftop.)
    BAND
    (Night pic of El Centro)
    EL CENTRO

    Saturday morning I caught the 9 AM ferry to Playa Del Carmen and the 10 AM bus to Cancun.

    In Cancun I stopped to see Cesar but was told he doesn't work there anymore so I caught the bus to Puerto Juarez.

    END

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