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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cruising the High Seas...10 Feet High


Officially, there were 6 of us traveling on the little boat seen above, though with our infant companion we made 7 and she was seriously awesome...bait. The waiters spent so much time hovering at our table, goo-gooing over (I'll use her super secret name here) Amy, they must have felt they needed an excuse, so they brought extra appetizers, entrees and desserts. Oh yeah, I gained like 5 pounds in 5 days. Quite an accomplishment since we were walking enough to get blisters and shit.

I don't know if I've told you, but at each port, there's a mall. Well...kinda. It's really just a collection of shops that sell the same stuff you can get in town but for three or four times the prices. What's weirder is that the cruise line put on this seminar to tell you where the reputable shops were. It think you can guess where. Also. Who goes on a vacation to buy loose Tanzanite? Is that anyone's goal? Crazy.

So, like Key West, Cozumel was another excursionless day. We opted to save the 600 dollars it would have cost us to travel 5 hours to the mainland and down the coastal highway of the Yucatan to Chichen Itza only to have a single hour to visit. Not. Going. To. Happen. Besides, Cozumel has their own ruins and a van rental split 6 ways was $21 per person. The choice was easy. Plus our rental car guy knew the skinny on some free-ass nachos and we all know those taste better than ones you pay for. Not that we're cheap. Or not just that we're cheap. I travel a lot and the best stuff happens when you're spontaneous and get lost in a place. So that was our intent.

The highway that circles Cozumel (if you could call it that--see left), while fairly flat, was subject to erosion just like its beaches, most of them on the windward side of the island were closed in recovery from some hurricane or something swirling in the southern Caribbean (this becomes important later). The potholes were invariably oceanside and were really little cliffs, dropping a good three feet. Luckily for us, we passed two cars the entire drive around 2/3rds of the island, nearly an hour. But we found this little stand in the middle of nowhere called Allmost Free (compared to the port mall it was) and bought some crap, if for no other reason than to say things like "hola," "gracias," and "andalay!" We didn't actually say that last one, but I thought it. Here's Jo wiping the sand off her feet and pondering coral necklaces and windburn...


Our next stop was the ruins at San Gervasio, which is down another one lane road straight into the jungle. A guy met us in the parking lot to say that they were having a bit of a problem with mosquitos. The moment he said it, I looked down at my legs to find three of the fuckers sucking me dry. And they hurt. Normally you can't feel 'em slide that proboscis inside of you (did that sound dirty?), but these were like Hepatitis vaccine-sized needles and you could feel every single one. I don't know if we even finished listening to the guy, rather ran straight to the gift shop to buy DDT or something. Hell, I would have rubbed on Diazinon crystals if it would have kept the little vamps off.

Despite frequent attacks, the ruins were pretty cool. Except. There was a religious group praying for the victims of the heathens (read, Mayans) and singing God Is In His Holy Temple from the hit film Poltergeist 2 (not really). Totally inappropriate and I'm fairly certain their rudeness was the cause of this giant lizard stalking us around (I could be wrong)...


Did I mention that Cozumel was a tad on the warm side? We were in full on 100-squared (temp/humidity). Nightmarish but we hydrated like good little boys and girls.

My best friend Kevin harvested what he assured me was safe, organism free agua. No. No. This post is not going to degenerate into a diarrhea-filled cliché. Not a chance. Swear to God. So, back to the ruins. Apparently the Mayans enjoyed living in squaty windowless pyramids--who doesn't? We were just itching to find the one covered in singing vines to begin our descent into hell. Instead, we found the source of the mosquitos. The trail leading to the main pyramid (the one you pay to see) was completely flooded with several inches of standing water. Not cool. Malaria was eating away at your humble guide's mind. But surely there was another, dryer way.

Not so much. But about those ruins. Here's an example...


Oh wait...no. That's where they keep Samara.

We never did find an alternate path to the main site, probably due to the excellent maps found along our route...


Clearly not big on upkeep. Oh well. Fun nonetheless and we picked up some maraccas! Meanwhile, back in the van, we followed the loop back to Cozumel City, which is really more of a low village with a strip of resorts lining the beach. It looks like this: poverty, poverty, poverty, luxury hotel! Like Russian Roulette with platinum visas. We stuck to the town, primarily because we had no clue where the highway continued. They're not big on signs. Or traffic lights...


...still, it was pretty easy to maneuver. Except for the surprise work zones where no one was actually working. We were unperturbed, with two things left to do (dawdle on the beach and secure some free nachos) we found our way back to the highway or road or whatever. If you make it to Cozumel, let me tell you that Albertos has some mean nachos and the fish tacos were excellent as were the guacamole, Pacificos and Mexicokes (seriously Coke tastes better in Mexico, WTF?). Plus, the restaurant was just some tables on the beach with a plywood dancefloor. Can you say 2 birds 1 stone?

On the way back to the rental car place we caught up with this interesting creature. I'm not saying it's a chupacabra for sure, I'm just sayin'.


Which brings us to--what in Texas Hold 'Em is called--the turn. The captain, heretofore known as Daredevil Sergei, let us all know that due to a tropical depression in the south, we'd be experiencing some rough waters on this coming leg of the journey. Understatement. Totally.

10 foot waves don't seem that high, but there was certainly a lot of this going on...


They even have special bags that show up on all the rails to hold the sick bags, unfortunately when they're empty they can hold something else entirely. When you're sick (which I wasn't but many were) what's the one thing you can't resist?




The one thing?




Wait for it...





Were you thinking all-you-can-eat midnight buffet served on the pool deck in gale force winds? If you did you're a winner. We opted just to watch. Also we were stuffed from the binge to end all binges at dinner. The only thing to do was drink the $5 specials all night. Can you blame us?

Later, on the way to the room, I found a wall decorated with photos and celebratory shit, among them this treasure...


I swear to God, the picture was developed quick cuz that pina colada was the drink of the day. It was apparently important enough to warrant expediting. I can't blame them, really. It's classic.

Moving on...If passengers hadn't earned their sea legs before, they did that night. The ship was rocked and slammed for about 7 hours straight. 7 hours which I didn't sleep. Our cabin was near the hull and every time we hit a big wave, it sounded like a bomb going off. Finally nodded off at about 5:30 in the morning with a wake-up call at 7:30. Good times.

Good times that even that night's towel carcass couldn't improve on...


Question: if this one is so clearly a rabbit, then what the hell was the first one (see previous post)? Freaky, right?

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