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Day 13 - Cozumel

Written on: Thursday March 30th, 2006

A journal entry from: Mexico 2006

Hola,

It?s our last day in Playa del Carmen so we decided to spend it snorkeling in Cozumel. After waking up at 8 AM, we packed and went to have breakfast at Fresh! We talked with our waiter, Esteban about music for a while. Like me, he?s really into electronic and lounge so I had plenty to discuss with him. A week earlier, Paul Oakenfold had played in Cancun to a crowd of 5000 people on the beach. What a party!

It was almost 10 AM when we realised what time it was. We grabbed our snorkeling gear and ran for the ferry. Luckily for us, our hotel is only a couple of blocks away from the ferry terminal and we managed to get our tickets as they were closing up. We ran aboard and they pulled away from the dock. The ferry was packed and we had difficulty finding a seat together. Kevin spotted 2 free seats on the main level and we sat down. We turned our heads and we were sitting next to our Belgium friends we had met 2 days earlier on the Chichen Itza tour. They had the same idea as us and were heading to Cozumel for some snorkeling. We discussed maybe paying for a tour or just grabbing a taxi to the south beaches of the island. We consulted our guide book ?Yucatan? by Moom handbooks which had short descriptions of the snorkeling areas and decided to go to Chakanaab Park. We were unsure of what we would find due to the damage caused by the hurricanes.

We docked and met up with another couple from France. The disembarkation area of the port is a mad house. It is the same area where the cruise ships dock so it was full of people. There were probably 2000 people trying to get off the dock at the same time. Add in the tour touts and taxi drivers trying to get your business and you?ve got a madhouse. We walked 300 meters from the dock and found peace and quiet from the crazyness. We flagged down a taxi and told him to which area we wanted to go. He recommended a beach club that sounded like what we were looking for and away we went. As we drove, we really saw the destruction that had occured. Most buildings were in a state of disrepair, homes were empty shells, most of the vegetation and trees were dead or blown sideways by the force of the winds, and the public beaches were washed away leaving only old coral beds. I can?t imagine what it looked like right after the hurricane. Most of the hotels were under construction and looked about 70-80% complete.

We arrived at the beach club immediately saw that they had a beach area, an artificial beach area. They built retaining walls at the boundary of the property and trucked in beach sand to recreate the lost beach. We decided to stay since we knew we would find the same thing wherever else we would go. We grabbed some chairs with parasols and quickly got in the water to explore what remained of the reef. It was obvious from shore that there wouldn?t be much left since a good portion of the water line was covered by dead, white coral. It was as bad as we thought, but you could see sign of life returning to the area. Little school of fish were everywhere, feeding off the sea floor and the deeper we went the more little areas coral we would see and the occasional large school of fish. We did see a barracuda, parrot fish, and a grouper. So not all is lost.

We spent the day in the sun or in the water enjoying our day in Cozumel. At the end of the day, we shared another taxi and went through the same madness at the port as we arrived. Once on the ferry, we quickly fell asleep to the rocking of the waves.

We parted ways with our friends after exchanging email addresses and promises to visit each other in the next couple of years. We now have a place to stay in Belgium and Northern France. Yay!

We returned to our hotel for our last night of sleep. We quickly packed our bags and fed the little cats we had adopted and went to bed, ready for our early morning bus ride to Cancun and our flight to Puerta Vallarta.