On final approach the plane made a long slow turn and banked to the right filling the view from my window with a full spectrum of shimmering turquoise blues, luminescent emerald greens and long stretches of white sandy beaches, Cozumel. Located in the Mexican Caribbean, Cozumel is part of a massive chain of reefs making it the second largest reef system in the world. Not to mention a relatively short hop for those of us mainlanders who crave a total immersion in warm crystal tropical waters. I needed this desperately.
Welcome Senor Shelton to the Hotel Fiesta Americana. A quick glance at his name tag and I responded in my perfect Anglo Spanish “Thank you Miguel.” I would have engaged him in more conversation but I was drowning in my own perspiration, the temperature was only 80 degrees but the humidity was… I don’t know one thousand percent. Miguel didn’t seem to notice, if he did he showed great composure when I completely drenched the hotel papers as I signed and handed them back over. It was at this time that I began to realize that I had done well in choosing the Fiesta Americana for my week long trip to the Island, my dive gear was taken to the dive shop and placed in a locker and the rest of my bags and myself were carried up to my room which was air conditioned. No matter I had to open up my balcony door (ocean view room) and let the full metamorphosis effect of my new environment begin. I absorbed the view as the intoxicating heavy ocean breeze filled my lungs.
Did I say intoxicating? Oh yeah I bought an all inclusive stay at the hotel, meals, five days of diving and free alcohol.
After a quick shower I grabbed my camera and headed out to do some exploring before dinner. Note to self: old spice deodorant attracts mosquitoes. Big ones too.
The evening meal was ok, buffet style, I might have been a little disappointed because I was expecting something similar to that of a cruise ship. I never walked away from any meal hungry however.
The next morning the real purpose of my trip began, scuba diving. I chose to use “Dive House” during this trip, mainly because they are the in-house dive shop and after checking on-line I felt confident they could handle my style of diving. To be more specific, I carry a rather large camera set-up, and I like to dive at my own pace. They also have some pretty cool boats, large and comfortable never overcrowded. The first dive was incredible, 100 foot plus visibility, and the water temperature was…temperatureless, not cold, not hot, really you just never thought about it. The marine life, oh the marine life will astound you with colors that you didn’t know existed, and in so much abundance.
I hope you like drift dives. The Gulf Stream flows past Cozumel, sometimes at a rather alarming rate. For the most part you just move along at an effortless pace and if you need to slow down you can just slip behind an out cropping in the reef or wall. My favorite dive was at a sight called Palancar Bricks, an amazing combination of caves, walls, and beautiful expanses of all forms of coral. Including fire coral, but you should be ok if you follow the local laws. Most of Cozumel is a natural preserve park which means “look but don’t touch”.
The night dives are spectacular, I made two while I was there and on both occasions I encountered technical difficulties with my camera and didn’t get any “money shots”, I just folded up my arms and enjoyed the dive. I counted seven different octopuses in one dive, beautiful.
I’m not going to rate this trip or the hotel by holding up my thumbs or sticking stars all over the page that’s just wrong. As for me I had a truly magical time in my life when I need it most. I met new friends, ate a lot, drank too much, made 13 memorable dives, and most important, I was able to revitalize myself in heart and soul. I must therefore thank my wife, Karen for giving me this wonderful gift. Thank you honey remember I have a birthday coming up soon.