A few hurricanes have visited Cozumel since we have, so we weren’t surprised that we didn’t recognize the port area. There was room for three modern gargantua sized liners to dock. Colorful shops and restaurants clustered around the port area. It all looked freshly constructed and painted and amazingly neat and clean. Only later did we realize that the area where we used to dock near the downtown shops and restaurants was already full with two other cruise ships. The modern area where we docked would appeal to those who have been frightened to death by all the crime and drug violence stories that our media loves to headline in news about Mexico. The downtown is still the slightly seedy and tacky area that we remember and much more like the real Mexico. After spending two winters driving throughout Mexico, it felt familiar and authentic. Something for every taste.
We took a shore excursion that was variety filled. First we got on bikes and rode along the seashore. Since this was also a road for cars, a chase vehicle followed us blinking a warning and the ride felt safe and secure. The island is pancake flat and it felt so good to be riding again after being housebound back home in the cold. The vegetation along the road was fairly lush, but lots of dead stuff was mixed in. The last major hurricane here was in 2005 and Mexicans are not noted for tidying up. Besides they were probably busy taking care of more important things like repairing the buildings.
We got off the bikes by a beach that is an ecological reserve. After a complete snorkeling lesson which we did not need but was appreciated by some of our fellow passengers, we stuck our faces in the water and paddled around. The water was very clear and felt great after the sweaty bike ride, but the fish and coral were few and far between. Hurricane? Global warming? General carelessness? The cause was not clear, but the lack of flora and fauna was disappointing. We had been warned not to touch anything, but there really wasn’t much to touch.
After a lengthy linger on the beach we peddled back to the port and caught a taxi into town. The shopping area in Cozumel is almost a mile long and lines an attractive walkway along the sea. After a stop in a pharmacia to purchase our favorite mosquito lotion, unavailable in the US, we headed back to the ship and a very late lunch.