Cozumel is an island a short ferry ride from Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula. We are old enough to remember when Cancun was still a gleam in the eye of the ministry of tourism and when it was first built, it felt more like Disneyland than Mexico. Cozumel was Old Mexico and when we were there we felt like we really were somewhere else. Over the years the downtown grew and grew and it was easy to do a retail walk along the sea front for at least a mile. But as cruise ships grew larger and larger, downtown docking facilities were inadequate and no one likes to tender. A new modern dock was built three miles out of town and yesterday four huge liners easily fit there. We haven’t been downtown in quite a few years, but versions of all the retail shops and restaurants we remember have moved to the new dock area. Pharmacies still do a great business as Americans stock up on the drugs they take without a prescription and for a much better price.
Since we’ve been to Cozumel many times, we were happy to see a tour being offered by our ship that went somewhere new to us: Punta Sur Eco Park. As the name implies it is located on the southern most point of Cozumel and an effort is being made to preserve what wildlife still remains despite all the tourist activity. The park has beautiful beachfront and brackish ponds on the interior surrounded by mangrove. It was fun to see some bright pink flamingos, feasting on the crustaceans living there. Underneath the board walk we took to the pond, crocodiles lurked enjoying the shade. We saw a small Mayan ruin, which may have functioned as a signaling tower, so near the end of the island. A light house no longer in use provided great views after a winding climb.
A front is passing through which we will follow to Florida. It generated enough wind so that snorkeling trips were cancelled. Some in our group snorkeled from the beach, but the wind stirred up the water and made it hard to see. So we enjoyed just being on the beach, reclining on huge couches under umbrellas. Waiters brought us quesadillas, giving us the chance to use up some leftover pesos from previous Mexico visits. It was a lovely, relaxing afternoon.
We returned to the port shortly before our ship was to leave, along with thousands of others. The local authorities were doing a valiant job, trying to screen us for weapons, which made the lines move slowly. We watched one woman get a lengthy examination as the agent unwrapped every tschotke she had purchased. We wondered what made it suspicious. We miss the good old days when we felt much freer to come and go.