Cruising Central America: A Stop in Cozumel, Mexico

Julie Royce's picture

 

Restrooms: Few and Far Between

Restrooms: Few and Far Between 

 

 

Déjà vu.  Our neighbor to the south has beckoned us to many holidays:  cruises, land tours, and self-arranged vacations.  If we wanted to immerse ourselves in the country, a ship wouldn’t be our travel plan. But as dessert to a main course traveled previously, it was like visiting an old friend. And as an appetizer before a longer trip this port provides a pleasant sampler. 

 

 

Cozumel lies across the channel from the Yucatan Peninsula. The Mayans are believed to have arrived there as early as the first millennium A.D., but the less well-known Olmec may have occupied the area centuries earlier.  Cozumel has been an important center of trade since Mayan rule and was one of their important religious sites. Sadly, the largest of these sites was destroyed during WWII to make room for an air strip. The ruins of San Gervasio include a temple area dedicated to the goddess of fertility, Ix Chei.

 

Mayan Ruins

Mayan Ruins

 

Reflecting on History

Reflecting on History

 

Cortes arrived here in 1519, and the Spanish began exploring and colonizing the island in the early 1500s. The Mayans were nearly destroyed by European diseases carried by the conquistadors. Within 30 years of Cortes arrival, Cozumel was nearly deserted except for the pirates of the Caribbean (little resembling Johnny Depp or Captain Jack Sparrow).  These early sea rovers found it a convenient spot to pull in and plan their next attack on fleets carrying Spanish gold.

 

Acting Like Goofy Tourists

Acting Like Goofy Tourists

 

We crammed as much into one short day as possible, starting with a trip to the ruins and a walk through history. Next we cooled off on a snorkeling expedition, and while nothing like the full day we snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, there was no lack of colorful fish. I’m a non-swimmer so am proud of myself each time I work up the nerve to step into water – especially water that is over my head and threatens dangerous sea monsters.

 

Getting Ready to Snorkel, Cozumel

Getting Ready to Snorkel

 

We capped our day with a tour of a tequila factory. We listened as our guide explained the modern equipment and demonstrated how tequila is made from the blue agave. He gave us a quick-overview of how the set-up could be replicated in our backyard with the most rudimentary apparatus. Too bad we don’t have a back yard in our small condo. We tasted a dozen varieties of tequila, inexpensive to pricy and even one served as dessert. 

 

Tequila Factory

Tequila Factory

 

Inside the Tequila Factory

Inside the Tequila Factory

 

Tequila - Learning about the Process

Learning about the Process

 

the Blue Agave

the Blue Agave

 

We returned to the ship feeling mellow, ready to sit poolside and listen to the Mariachi band and dream of a trip to San Miguel to visit dear friends.

 

A New Friend?

A New Friend?

 

 

 

 

 

Julie Albrecht Royce, Travel Adventures Editor, is the author of Traveling Michigan's Sunset Coast and Traveling Michigan's Thumb, both published by Thunder Bay Press. She writes a monthly column for Wandering Educators.

 

 

Feature photo: Welcome to Cozumel

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Bob and Julie Royce.

 

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