The island of Cozumel is located just across the channel which separates it from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Cozumel, the largest of Mexico's Atlantic islands, is approximately 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. Covered with a great deal of vegetation, the land is primarily flat.
The population and business center of Cozumel is the town of San Miguel, located on the northwest coast of the island. This is a duty-free port, understandably popular with the many cruise ship passengers who visit each year. Shopping may be a major attraction but Cozumel's true claim to fame is not to be found on the island itself. The primary attraction is the beautiful reef below the waters surrounding the island. Cozumel is one of the Caribbean's prime dive locations. There was lots of discussion among the divers and snorkelers about what locations are the best.
Meanwhile, archaeologists have uncovered evidence dating the arrival of the Mayans to Cozumel as far back as the beginning of the first millennium AD. Under the Mayans, Cozumel was an important center of coastal trade and pilgrimage for the worship of their goddess of the moon and fertility.
As on all the days we go ashore, we have many excursions to choose from. For Cozumel, we chose "The Island Tour & Folklore". A bus took us on the scenic drive around the island. The ocean is beautiful with waves beating up against the white beaches.
Our first stop was the Mayan Cacao Company. They explained how the cacao beans are processed. Then they demonstrated how the chocolate is produced and finally we got to taste some. The Mayan's didn't have milk at the time so they used water to make a chocolate drink. They did have spices though and began to add spices to the drink - vanilla, cinnamon, paprika, and eventually sugar. We got to taste the original in a little ceramic jug, then we could add each of the spices mentioned to see how it changed the taste. An interesting experiment. Then they let us into the ubiquitous gift shop and let us taste the various kinds of chocolate they make today to see which one we wanted to buy. Good but very different from the chocolate we tasted in Switzerland.
Then we stopped at a cultural center where Mexican dancers entertained us with traditional dances in their traditional costumes. We made some video of them so hopefully you can see them too (when I get the pictures posted).
And of course, no trip to Mexico should be without tequila tasting. We stopped at a tequila hacienda to learn about the processing of Mexico's ancestral drink. We learned that you should only drink the best tequila or you will get a headache. The bad tequila is mixed with cane sugar and other additives and that's what gives you the headache. The tequila bottle should read "Made in Mexico", "Made in Jalisco", and "100% Agave". It is a distilled drink made from the Blue Agave plant. It should be served neat and then sipped. Outside of Mexico, people drink it as a shot with salt and lime.
Well this basically ends our tour. Tomorrow is a sea day, sailing us around Cuba to Miami.