Cozumel

Didn’t sleep well. Too hot and too excited. I felt like the kids on the old Disneyland Paris advert. “I’m too exCITed”. Today at 10 we went ashore in Cozumel.

Although it was chucking it down with rain, it was so warm it didn’t matter. I walked down the long concrete pier, which, last time we were here, was so windy, we thought we’d be blown into the sea. They now have rickshaws to run you to the shore, which is a lovely touch and is free – well, “tips only” anyway – which makes life much more pleasant.

Boy, has Cozumel changed in the six years since we were last year. They must have been building almost continuously. There is a brand new, two-storey open air shopping centre (opened three and a half years ago) that you are, surprise, surprise, funnelled through to get to the taxis and excursion buses (which are also taxis).

We caught a cab south through a part of town that didn’t even exist last time we were here, past another cruise terminal with two Carnival cruise ships tied up, that also wasn’t here last time, and on to Chankanaab National Park.

This is where Dolphin Discovery is. We had pre-booked on the internet and arranged a Dolphin Encounter at 1pm. We were given yellow wristbands to show we had already paid our entrance fee to the Park (included in the fee for the Dolphin Encounter) and then pootled around the facilities and the shop before getting changed at half eleven.

We then gathered for a briefing talk, and got a green wristband to identify which group we were in. We were then shown the hand signals to use and warned about fingernails and wedding rings, as well as where NOT to touch a dolphin(!). Then we walked down to the water and down the metal stairs into the water. We stood on a metal grille platform about three feet wide. It ran the length of the pen, which was about fifteen feet square. Luckily the wooden pier above our heads had wire fencing attached to it. If we hadn’t had that to hold on to, we’d have been washed away (or at least across the pen!), because it was a little windy and the water was surprisingly rough. We were in the Atlantic, after all, strictly speaking. The rain stopped, but the sun was weakened by a generally overcast sky. It poked through now and then (enough to burn my shoulders, again) and, thankfully enough to make the water quite warm (far more important!).

Then we took it turns to pet, stroke, kiss and otherwise play with Amaya, while her baby played/trained on the other side of the pool (they stay together for the first eighteen months)(they live to an average age of 50, more than twice their life expectancy in the wild)(Amaya is 22) and a photographer took photos of each of us. Amaya’s skin was very smooth and she clearly loved being stroked. When one of the women said “I can’t” [let go of the wire fence], Amaya shook her head. We don’t say can’t. She did jumps and sang to us and thoroughly enjoyed being told to splash us and make us scream. Her trainer, Carlos, and she had a really good relationship and the whole thing was thoroughly amazing. We were in the water much longer than we expected, probably as long as an hour and a half. My fingers were certainly very pruney by the end.

20:45 Code Alpha in the Lower Meridien Restaurant. Oh dear. That’s not good. And then, less than 6 minutes later, the same Code Alpha again. Presumably the doctors didn’t respond to the first one. That’s a bit worrying… Granted it’s completely the other end of the ship to the medical centre, but still. Even I could get there quicker than that.

After the encounter, we got changed and then had a late lunch (3pm!) in the restaurant. Mum and dad had guacamole and tortilla chips and I had a chicken burger. All delicious. Absolutely lovely. Not cheap, mind you. The whole meal was 35 dollars for those meals plus two diet cokes and a rather weak lemonade. That’s about 24 pounds, or eight quid a head before tip. Not extortionate, but not cheap either. This is the difference between mainland Mexico and Cozumel. Cozumel is an island. EVERYTHING is imported. And, thus, everything costs more than it would on the mainland. Cozumel ain’t cheap. But, as the most popular cruise port in the world, they can afford to push their luck a little.

Then we collected our photo disc and caught a taxi back to the mall opposite the port. We pootled briefly, before mum and dad called it quits and headed back to the ship. I shopped a little longer and got chased down the street twice. Once by a man who didn’t grasp that I had absolutely no intention of paying anything like 68 dollars for a cotton sundress, and once by a jeweller who had found a seahorse charm for me. Unfortunately, it was the ugliest seahorse you’ve ever seen, so I didn’t buy it after all. Several of the shops were handing out free silver charms today – you could have a heart or an elephant, for some reason. I ended up with both, along with some unset jewels, which I will have to mount into something at some point in the future.

By the time I had showered the sand out of my toes, it was time for dinner, and, so, here we are. My sunburn itches and the muscles in my legs are aching something rotten, probably from the effort of staying still in the waves for so long. I’m going to bed.

NB. Photos of Amaya will have to wait til i get home, I’m afraid. Sorry.

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