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Saturday 7 Dec 2013
Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel again

I shared a taxi back to the bus station with Christina and bid her farewell on her way back to Cancun airport.  It has been great sharing a month with her but now she's heading back to Australia.  We’ve done some great dives – (the Blue Hole!) and some not so great dives (her out-of-air situation and my cenote freak out) but we looked after each other and learned from them all.  I finally convinced her to come and do her Divemaster training in Indonesia with me in March.  I’m looking forward to it already!

I headed down to the jetty for the early morning ferry to Cozumel and made my way back to Amigo’s hostel for the last week of my Mexican adventure.  It was only 8am when I arrived, so I had breakfast at the little café across the road and spent the rest of the next two days swimming in the pool and working on my blog.

I got chatting to a couple from Bristol, Matthew and Kim, and joined them for dinner at a taqueria recommended by the guys they’d been diving with.  We decided to hire a car the next day and explore a bit more of the island.  I was still trying to get the American Road Trip portion of the blog finished but getting out of the hostel would also be good.  We were keen to get a Mexican Ferrari, aka one of the VW Beetles so popular on the island, but the rental lady advised against it. The battery and spare wheel are both accessible through the open top of the car and they had a regular habit of going AWOL from cars on the street overnight.  So we chose a compact chevvy which had seen better days and set off across the island.  The main town on Cozumel occupies the West coast, facing across the water to Playa del Carmen.  The rest of the island is quite barren in comparison.  The north end is inaccessible without a 4-wheel drive and off limits for hire cars.  The main road bisects the island before turning south to follow the coast all the way back around to town again.

Matt drove us over to the East side and we stopped to appreciate the rugged beauty of the coast: the pure white sand; the thin beach grasses growing along the edge of the road; the waves crashing against the steep beach and nothing but water all the way to the horizon.  Unfortunately, the currents can be fierce so we had been advised to stay out of the water.  Swimming is limited to the west of the island.  Instead we walked along the beach for a while and then stopped at a bar for a drink.  It turned out to be an American roadhouse bar with t-shirts lining the thatched cone roof over the bar and metal signs and slogans attached to every post.   They had an assortment of parrots on perches around the garden (with warnings not to feed them or lose a finger).

A very lively group at the next table kept us entertained.  I noticed they had a mascot with them, a small elf in a red Santa suit with moveable arms and legs and a cheeky grin on his face.  My cousins have one the same, who amuses their five children by causing mayhem around the house every day in December.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of ‘Snowy’ with a margarita to show my cousin’s children what their friend got up to for the other 11 months of the year…

We carried on around the island to one of the hotels on the west side with the intention of having a swim on their beach, but discovered they charged $24 USD for the privilege.  Not likely.  Instead we went further up and found the Money Bar, where Christina and I had been dropped after our eventful wreck dive a few weeks ago.  We finally got our swim and watched the sunset, finishing up with the delicious fish and chips at El Muellecito, the bar we'd watched the football in.

We still had the car until noon the next day, so after breakfast we headed back down to the Punta Sur National Park on the southern tip of Cozumel.  The sand roads in the park were very bumpy and we bounced our way around the tip of the island towards the beach, stopping at a few places on the way.  We climbed an observation tower to watch for birds on the lagoon.  Matt worked as a cameraman for the BBC wildlife team, so he was able to identify several birds that I could hardly even see.  We climbed to the top of the old lighthouse for a beautiful view along the coast and back inland to the lagoons.  We even saw a few small Mayan ruins and I was surprised to learn that the Mayan civilization was actually as recent as the 1500s.  We spent an hour in hammocks at the beach before a busload of Japanese tourists arrived and we had to make a run for it to get the car back on time.  Matt and Kim headed straight to the port to catch the ferry and I walked back to Amigo’s. 

I spent the last two days finishing blog sections and uploading photos.  I met Ben, Layla and Jacinta, a trio of young Aussies on their way to work in London.  Ben was a chef.  He was cooking fish the next night and cooked enough for me to join them.  It was delicious.  They’ve started their own blog called ‘Hungry Young Travellers’, where they upload recipes they pick up around the world.  Must have a look when I get home again and try some of them out.

I finally left Amigo’s and said goodbye to Kathy and the Aussies.  I got the ferry back over to Playa del Carmen and had lunch at Señor Frog’s (no tequila this time though) before getting the bus back up to Cancun.  I’d booked a hostel near the bus station to make it easy to catch the bus to the airport the next day.  The hostel wasn’t great but I had a private room with plenty of space to spread out and repack my rucksack properly for the flights to Costa Rica.

Going through my finances, I got a nasty surprise when I discovered that the HSBC cash machines I’d been using had charged a horrific fee.  The receipts I had showed a $26.56 fee on a $3000 withdrawal, making a total of $3026.56 withdrawn.  Remember that the $ sign is used for both USD and Peso, but the total withdrawal on the receipt indicated the fee was in Peso, as there’s no way I was withdrawing $3000 USD from a cash machine in one go, let alone doing it four times.  However, HSBC had processed it as a $26.56 USD fee costing me around £16.00 instead of £1.20!  That’s over £60 for four withdrawals! Daylight robbery.  I tried to query it with my currency card provider but they were adamant the fee had come from HSBC not them.  At least they didn’t slap their own fees on top to add insult to injury.  Something to follow up further and beware of in future.

I'd stayed fairly close to the airport, but I still treated myself to a taxi the next morning.  At 4am, I am happy to take the easiest option!

 

 

 

 

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #2 Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica

Travel blog by zobeedoo

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I met Christina in April. We travelled a bit of Australia together and both learned to dive. Now we're off to Mexico and Belize to see what the Caribbean and the Great Mesoamerican Reef have to offer, before I head down to Costa Rica for 10 days.

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