Friday, December 6, 2013

Escape to Paradise

View of Caribbean from the 8th Floor of our Hotel
The Wife Warily Feeding the Fish

Ah, Pura Vida

In late October of this year my wife and I decided on taking a two week vacation to Cozumel, Mexico. We had been here before on a couple of occasions and quickly fell in love with the place. It is a small island of the southern tip of Yucatan in the heart of the Caribbean, or Paradise. Luckily, it was off-season and the hotel half-empty of tourists, at least for the first week.

I purchased the trip, all-inclusive, online and it included the round-trip flight, two weeks at the hotel, all meals and drinks (alcoholic or otherwise). The hotel staff and waiters were warm and friendly and ready to spoil its visitors. Somehow, cheapskate that I am, I never minded tipping them. They brought us drinks and snacks, right out to the beach, even to the water if you happened to be in the ocean!

It was good to be in Mexico again and be in the company of Mexicanos, who continually seemed amazed that I, being American could speak Spanish so well. The hotel had two restaurants, a buffet open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a formal restaurant offering menu items, but one you had to make reservations for, and wear formal clothes to. The food was not what we expected, but you could eat all you wanted.

At our age, we wanted a vacation where we could sit at the beach, kick back, drink and eat and that's what we got! We were not in to the numerous excursions available (expensive too), diving, para sailing etc. or the tours to the mainland to Tulum, Chichen-Itza or Xel Ha, though we did book one to Xcaret, a jungle theme park for an entire day. But just snorkeling in the ocean in front of the hotel was enough for us. Dozens of fish surrounded us. Curious fellows who were used to being fed bread crumbs by the guests. The waiters, if asked would give us zip-lock bags filled with stale bread and once you began to feed them the word was out, and dozens came in from the deeper water and the frenzy was on! On occasion you would get a nibble on you back or leg even!

The water is crystal clear, and Luke-warm, a special treat. The beach had a gentle slope and soft waves that allowed non-swimmers like my wife to walk out 50-75 feet and still be only chest deep in water. The island is developed only on one side, the north-facing side with its only town, San Miguel, and dozens of hotels stretching for miles. The harbor hosts a half-dozen cruise ships daily that spend the day in San Miguel. The southern side of the island, the windward side is scantily developed with mostly restaurants here and there. The temperature was in the mid to low 80s but still quite balmy, especially after the rains; it's their rainy season. During the second week, the water muddied a little from the rain's runoffs.

In all, it was another memorable trip to Paradise, one that I especially wanted for my wife who has undergone so much pain and hardships with her ailing back. And she loved it. For parts of the days, she was pain-free or on a pain scale of 1-10, a 3 for several days! Normally she scores herself on the scale at home 7 or above.