Following Hurricane Matthew - Winter 2017 travel blog

chocolate tour

El Cedral square

tequila tour

tequila tour

town view

souvenirs for Chicagoans

El Central church

a few ships in port

a gargantuan ship

Cozumel is a small island a ferry ride away from Cancun on the Yucatan peninsula. Tourists like us have been coming here for many years to snorkel, fish, and enjoy the beaches. To keep us coming back, the locals keep adding attractions that are really from other parts of Mexico. Because we have been here many times we looked for something new, so that meant we ended up with some of these "imports." We started with a chocolate tour. The chocolate pods are not grown here, but the factory/museum/store did a good job of explaining how chocolate began in Mexico is a sacred drink for the Mayan royalty. Since they did not have sugar, they used honey and spices to take the edge off the bitterness off the natural toasted and powdered product. We were served the original recipe, which was certainly drinkable, but we missed the creaminess that was added after the chocolate beans made their way to Europe. The store sold a huge variety of chocolate bars with all sorts of yummy additions. I saw a lady buy ten bars for $80 and satisfied myself with a few free samples.

Then we drove to El Central, a small town that has waxed and waned over the years. There was a picturesque square and a bright orange church. Vendors on the square were just as pricey as the chocolate factory. Ken could have bought a leather belt for only $30. Along the way we saw "ruins" that we had seen on the mainland being rebuilt here. The famous dancer that twirl around in the air on poles that we saw in Uxmal, were also available for photographs. An easy way to feel like you've seen it all.

Our final stop was at a Tequila Museum. There was nothing museum about it. We learned about how tequila is made from the juice of the agave plant and aged in barrels imported from whiskey distillers in Tennessee when they are finished using them. Our guide had a unique presence. His English was flawless, but he looked like he had recently been released from a maximum security US prison. He had a Latin Kings tattoo on his neck and tear drops tattooed near his eyes. Back in the day I used to attend gang training so I would be aware of what to look for with my students and he fit the bill perfectly. I wanted to ask him if he had been deported recently, but even after a few sample sips of tequila, it just didn't feel appropriate. Of course the tequila was for sale; the cheapest bottle $49. No bargains to be had today.

Back at the port we could see that our huge ship had been joined by three others. Another cruise ship was parked downtown, where we used to berth on smaller boats. Because the new port which was built to attract ships as large as we are, a huge quantity of shops have opened branch offices in the vicinity and we never did make it downtown. We were not looking to buy the usual tourist stuff. We visited a few pharmacies looking for Autan, a bug spray as effective as what we can get at home, but without the DDT. At grocery stores we looked for the Mexican version of Crystal Lite, which comes in great flavors unavailable at home.

It was nice to see that this part of Mexico is thriving. They are masters at entertaining the throngs of tourists and having fun themselves in the process. We flashed back to many good memories of winters spent touring the country by RV and hope that we can all remain friends over the next four years.

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