Loud frat boys, Ron Jon’s, ridiculous drinks, and commercialism at its finest- is that a pretty accurate description of what you imagine when you hear Cozumel, Mexico? Me too, well at least that was my perception when I notice it listed on our cruise itinerary last year. So I’ll let you decide for yourself, and just tell you the story of my Cozumel adventure.
Cozumel was the first stop on our Caribbean cruise circuit. The sun seemed huge that day, uncontested in a cloudless sky. I slung my little Vera Bradly backpack over my shoulders, tugged on a ball cap, and we made our way down the gangway onto the massive concrete pier. The cruise center has all the usual culprits- duty free goods, Diamonds International, etc. Right before the first line of store fronts, the excursion guides stood with large signs. After scanning the crowd, Shane and I found our guy. I had expected a tour bus, or a marked van to take us to our snorkeling and zip lining excursion, but instead, our guide ushered us to the line of taxis. And by taxis, I mean random, unmarked cars, that would take you anywhere for a price. We ended up sliding into an old, beat up, VW Jetta with no seat belts, and Latin music blaring through the speakers. Once our guide leaned in and told the driver our destination, he punched the gas pedal like a professional boxer.
Speeding through the city, darting between traffic, the colorful city of Cozumel began to come to life. Once we got out of the cruise terminal, the commercialism quickly faded into the distance and gave way to the daily life of Cozumel. The buildings became more authentic and worn- small local markets popped up with bright fruits and vegetables. The cinema was small and faded, but it was the most beautiful kind of classic.
After about a 30 minute taxi ride, we pulled up to a little piece of paradise. Our guide for the day, Mario, was waiting for us by a stone, open air restaurant right there on a little private beach. After walking through this unexpected utopia, we changed into our climbing clothes, and hit the adventure course. When I bought this excursion through Carnival, the description mainly focused around zip lining and snorkeling, but when the guides started to harness us up, I realized I was getting a lot more than I had bargained for. Instead of just one zip line, this course required you to climb a rock wall, balance on a floating bridge, zip line across to a tower, and the repel back down. And as terrified as I may have been to start, the view of the jungle from the top was magnificent. There is something so brilliantly liberating about kicking your fears right in the rear.
I was glad I did it, but to be honest, I was ready to be out of that harness and in the water by the end of it all. When we were finished changing into our bathing suits, Mario met us on the shore with snorkels and masks ready. Adding another surprise to the day, Mario guided our snorkeling like a tour of an underwater city. And that man was fearless. Between letting us feed the fish out of our hands, he would dive down to the bottom to wrestle stingrays, or bring up venomous black sea urchins for us to gawk at. For us, it was daring and reckless, but for Mario is was just another day in the office.
After about an hour of awestruck diving, we traded in our gear for beach chairs underneath a breezy palm. And while the cruise center was exactly what you would expect when you think of Cozumel, our adventure took us to a place of authenticity and unforgettable beauty.
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear from you- whether it’s in the comments or through email via my contact page. Until next time, lovelies! Sweet Dreams and Happy Travels!