Sunday, June 22, 2008

Voyage To Turquoise Waters of Half Moon Bay, Akumal (Day 10-11)

Rest and Relaxation, 12/10 Thursday

We set aside this day as a release from the frenetic pace of the past few days. We bought a few groceries at the Super Chomak, and picked up another 2 kilos of tortillas in Akumal Pueblo. We slept in, and the Fousts prepared a nice brunch for us about 10:30. Shortly after brunch, Shelley's friends showed up at our condo. They left their gear at our place and went on to tour Tulum. Randy, Karen and I engaged in some lengthy reading that afternoon. When Shelley's friends returned from Tulum, they and Shelley snorkeled Half Moon Bay, and Shelley was very excited when she was lucky enough to spot a sea turtle. Tom and Mary snorkeled Yakul Lagoon and were enthusiastic about the results, so we all planned another snorkeling adventure there.

In the evening, Tom, Mary, Karen and I walked to Akumal to look around. The weather had been mixed, with threatening clouds and rough seas, but the evening turned hot and humid, and the stars were out and shining again. Shelley went to spend the night with her friends in Playa Del Carmen. We planned to meet them at the ferry dock in Playa and explore Cozumel Friday morning.

Cozumel, 12/11 Friday

I awoke at 5:45 AM in the darkness just before dawn. I went to the balcony to observe the calm, dark seas. A weak front was pushing clouds to the East over Cozumel. A solitary snorkeler was gliding through the dark water, his underwater light sending a penetrating beam darting in all directions. The weather promised to be unsettled as immense rain clouds boiled up the Yucatan peninsula. We packed up our suitcases full of snorkeling gear, and hit the road for Playa to catch the ferry to Cozumel. At Playa we were lucky enough to find parking spots a few blocks away from the ferry terminal. Tom and Randy exchanged money at the bank, and we found a breakfast place that offered light meals for $1-3 US. After breakfast, we met Shelley and her friends at the terminal, and bought our tickets for Cozumel. We loaded the ferry and disembarked at 10:00. A Michael Jackson video played as we cruised across the channel to Cozumel in our ferry, "The Mexican III". Just before we arrived, a lady who offered a snorkeling experience in the glass-bottomed boat, "La Tortuga", approached us. We negotiated a price of $25 US for each person, and set up our snorkeling tour for 11:30.

We had just enough time to take a quick look around the port city of San Miguel before returning to the dock and loading our gear on "La Tortuga" for the day's adventure. In addition to the eight of us, Shelley's three friends came along. Four women from Chile, a grandmother, mother and two daughters and two young Dutch men rounded out the group. The Dutch boys and the young girls from Chile provided plenty of entertainment throughout the trip, flirting shamelessly with each other. We had a wonderful day of snorkeling, with plenty of cervazas, sodas, sandwiches and bottled water. The weather cooperated, and there were only a few brief showers. We snorkeled three reefs arriving eventually at the Chankanab reef, our most southerly point. From there, we worked our way back, exploring multitudes of brightly colored fish and coral formations. Karen and I used our life jackets again so that we would feel secure. The trip lasted about three and one-half-hours, and we felt satisfied as we ate our ham and cheese sandwiches while returning to port. Lauren did especially well on this trip. Not many five-year-olds can endure such a lengthy trip, let alone swim in the Caribbean for 45 minutes with only water wings for support! After we got off the boat, we packed our snorkel gear and lugged our heavy suitcases to a nearby park. There Randy and I watched the suitcases while the others did some brief shopping.

We caught the 5:00 PM ferry back to Playa as a glorious sunset lit up the western skies, the first time we had seen such a thing on this trip! In Playa we made our way to "El Tacolate", one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Happy Hour was in full swing, and the Margaritas were loaded! We ate long leisurely meals of lime soups, kabobs and fajitas and then walked over to the "helado" shop and got some ice cream. Many locals were participating in festivities associated with "Our Lady of Guadaloupe". There were long lines of children dressed in white and red, marching through the streets of Playa. They were following an adult with a flame-lit torch. Other groups of bicyclists and runners also were participating.

Before leaving Playa, we drove to the "St. Francis de Assisi" which is the brand new Super Mercado, in reality a Costco store. There Randy and I people-watched as the others shopped again. We noticed a fellow who had the unusual job of guarding the bicycles. Arriving shoppers gave him their bicycle, he gave them a tag and then watched it while they shopped. When they returned, they paid him a few pesos, and reclaimed their bicycles. After Costco, we zigzagged our way through the zany streets of Playa. Traffic police directed traffic at crucial intersections in a nonchalant manner while other groups of police cruised in pick up trucks, one policeman stationed in the back with an automatic rifle and a bullet proof vest. Eventually we worked our way back to the main road and turned South towards Akumal. The drive back was a nightmare. The roads were filled with "Our Lady" runners, construction vehicles, large busses and the flashing lights of police cars. To top it off, we experienced a torrential downpour and visibility was almost zero. We survived however, and were glad to reach our condo where we gratefully fell into bed at 9:30 PM, our latest night yet.

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