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Raincation In Cozumel May 2012

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#1 crunch



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  • Interests:Snorkeling, dogs, margaritas, beaches, reading, working out, chilling.

Posted 13 July 2012 - 12:25 PM

We packed lightly:

Tuco fetched us some pesos at the bank:


Isla got some quality time in with her favorite Seabean:

We awoke 24 hours before we left on the trip to phone messages telling us Tomas’s brother was critically ill & having or had emergency surgery. Many frantic phone calls later we found out the surgery was successful & he was in ICU. Late that afternoon the ICU nurse actually let us speak to him very briefly & this was an incredible relief. The netbook and the internet access were invaluable for keeping up with his progress. I guess if getting shot at, shot in the leg, and shot down in Vietnam weren’t enough to kill him then nothing is! We are so happy & grateful he is doing great now.

We had lunch at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and I renewed my love affair with lunch hour margaritas:

And my long term squeeze:

And then we blew our diets to kingdomcome & started 2 weeks of freedom from calorie control & healthy eating!



Trip Report: Cozumel, Mexico, May 11-May 23, 2012
“Raincation 2012”
Chaac, the Maya god of rain smiles upon us.
Baño ratings are * to *****

Day 1
Partly cloudy in Cozumel today. Highs in the upper 80s. We are up bright and early and out the door at 0550 for our flight at 10:25. Our early start proves successful on avoiding the mess as our route is a bit “trafficky”. Check in at American Airlines at Dallas/Fort Worth goes smoothly and we are able to acquire exit row seats due to the efforts of Angel and Carmen.
Getting through security takes an unusual one hour due to the tightened security brought about by the underwear bomb incident a few days earlier. We were given time-stamped tracking slips by the TSA since we were last in line and they were tracking how long it takes for the whole process. It was so bad they just came over and took our slips back and I think they called for more personnel.
Breakfast is at Cool River:

Omelet and Big River Breakfast runs about $21 US plus tip. Not a bad deal for airport food.
Holy unhealthy saturated fat (and NO I couldn’t eat it all!)
I have a confession to make – it is a BLAST to eat stuff you would never in a million years eat normally!

All is well and we are ready to go except for the fact that ONE guy in first class apparently forgot to board the plane. We got to see how the process works as the ramp agents go through the procedure of unloading our luggage until they find the guy’s bags and remove them from the aircraft as a security precaution.
Gratuitous on the airplane shot:

We leave 35 minutes late but the flight is great and we have TGI Friday’s sandwiches en route:

We arrive in Cozumel at 1:55 PM and are through Customs and Immigration in 20 minutes. Not wanting to mess with 22 years of success Tomas allows Crunch to hit the light because she almost always gets us the green.
We walk out and are immediately attacked by sharks. My new line works. “Hablas japones?”. “No”, he replies. He does not speak Japanese. I tell him “arigato” and we are gone. (I spent three years in Japan with the US Navy “Canoe Club”.
We do the controversial walk-out because we do not want to pay $8 US for a two-minute ride on a cattle car. It is not the cost, but having to wait around and be “managed” we are in a hurry!;)

2 airport taxi drivers actually followed us from about 50 feet back as we walked off the airport grounds. They waved off a regular taxi that was stopping for us out on the main street & than one of the airport van taxi’s (cattle car) immediately pulls up. Tomas tells him we are willing to pay only 50 pesos & he says well get in then. Cool. Why could we not just do this from the airport & skip all the intrigue?
We arrive at Rentadora Isis & meet Santiago, Margarita’s husband. We decide to rent Barney Cinco again. I just love that purple “Vocho” (year 2000 Bug). It is $35 US per day with insurance and a $450 deductible.

We arrive at Nah Ha condos & use the code given to us to open the lock box to gain entry to 401. Matias shows up & works with us to get Internet up and running & show us how to set the electronic safe. What a great guy. He is from Italy & is the husband of Isabella who rents condos through her Website. They always take fabulous care of their guests!

Next we are off to our favorite small store, Sedena, for Coke, chips, cheese, etc.

Back to the condo for condo cocktails and unpacking:
The rich people kitchen –
Living room-
The Tomas (master ) room –

The mistresses closet with 11 sundresses – yep – quite the light packer!
Keeping everything safe:
One of 3.5 banos:
This place is so nice, but WTH?
Just kidding – that is Tomas’s rubber roach !
View off our balcony –
The hard work of unpacking completed we suck down several adult beverages while checking out the grounds:

& Tomas practices his Selfie skills:
Dinner tonight is n easy 3 block amble down the road to the newly remodeled Hotel B. They took a one star hotel and created kind of a boutique hotel and dinner was great even if the rack rate went from $60 per night to $160 per night.
The four margaritas, two grouper entrees and two bowls of ice cream come to 720 pesos, plus tip:
Marty Feldman lives!
Grilled grouper finally – I will just suck it right off the plate!
Baño rating ****
We made some new pals on the walk back to the condo – got to love those mean old Cozumel bikers:
Yes, Cozumel is very dangerous. You may get run over by a dog driving a motorcycle!
Back to the condo, a two-minute walk north, for a good night’s sleep on an awesome bed.

Day 2
Partly cloudy in Cozumel today. Highs in the upper 80s.
We are up early and are greeted by two Carnival ships, the Paradise and Elation majestically cruising by. They will be the only two boats today.
Breakfast in the awesome kitchen is fried eggs and quesadillas on the deck and we are greeted by four dolphins who decided to cruise by the condo to let us know they remember us from last year
Crunch’s 2 fried in Pam eggs (every morning the exact same thing – cheap date )
Tomas’s Jamon y Queso quesadilla’s:

The annual fishing tournament is in full swing and the boats are all heading out at full speed.
We are now off to Mecca. And by that I mean Mega, the most awesome store on Cozumel.
Mega is awesome as always and the employees are very helpful to guide you while at the same time not even tempted to laugh at our Spanish.
We haul our loot out to the car:


and then we see it first-hand. Yet another scooter accident in front of Mega on Melgar Ave. The scooter was under the wheels of the taxi van and the scooter riders were being attended to by the police. The scooter riders were local and the taxista was local. Nobody is going to jail today. If it was one of us Norte Americanos running over a scooter the story would have a much different ending.
Next we are off to Playa Azul resort in the north end of the island.:

Thanks to Steve O we now know that you can go onto the hotel beach property and use their palapas as long as you are eating and drinking there:

Our first snorkel of the trip is nothing short of spectacular:

We follow that with three margaritas each, shrimp ceviche, grilled grouper and shrimp fajitas along with two free bottles of water for a total of 1087 pesos, about $90 US. Gilberto and Felipe are great waiters here:
What to do after lunch? Hmmm? Ok! Is she Buoyant or what? Must be all those grilled fishies running around in there!
The place is quite dead until 2 PM when the tours from the Carnival ships arrive (free entertainment !). After some fun people watching we head back to the condo pool to rinse in the fresh water and suck down gallons of water. We meet Eddie and Diana from condo 402 and talk for a while.
Baño rating **

Ok, time out for Tomas rant - 

"Time to chill in the condo. No. We are not the average ABR/Bahia/CRT/Grand Sirenas travelers who say “Well, who spends any time in their room anyway on vacation?”. It’s pretty hard to not enjoy a 2600 square foot fourth floor 3 bedroom 3.5 bathroom condo for $149 per night plus the tax."

If you enjoy seeing a bunch of plants while you are at CRT, good for YOU! Our view is nothing but water.
RANT over – whew. The stuff us wives put up with [;)]

Uh oh – more ranting[&:]
The horrific discovery. I am not sure how it happened but I brought FIVE swimsuits on our trip. I am a man. I usually only bring two because we have a full-size washer and dryer here in the condo. No more drinking during the packing operation. Like THAT rule will stick.

Moving on –
We have always wanted to see Cozumel’s The Red Eye Band and the tentative plan is to go to happy hour at Hotel B (a two-minute walk south) and then head up to Buccano’s for dinner. I don’t know why they call the place Hotel B. We have never been successful about finding Hotel A.

Happy hour is a lot of fun at Hotel B and The Red Eye Band is great:
After some margaritas and good tunes we are into a taxi and off to Buccano’s for dinner:
We highly recommend use of these provided items to increase your pleasure (NO, not that kind!)
Off doesn’t always work as well if you apply it incorrectly……….
If I have to be honest I will say this fish would be much better if that had not fried it so much. I guess that is what tempura means huh?
Very good food at a reasonable price, around $60 US. The owner came around & visited as did the chef.
We spend some days here at this beach club and this is the first time we have been able to eat dinner here because they just started to offer dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.
After dinner our same taxista shows up when we told him to and we are back to the condo in no time.
Baño rating ****

Day 3
We are up bright and early and I have now mastered how to resolve the “complete hard drive failure” message on the Dish Network device and we are catching up with the World on CNN.
Today marks three weeks since my union went on strike. We keep track of the lack of progress on negotiations through the union Website.
Today is Mother’s Day and since the Vonage phone seems to be working (it’s been iffy) we will briefly call our mommies before heading out to Chankanaab for the day. I screwed up the ring toss to that sea lion last year and I hope to get picked for another attempt at the show. While not the most comfortable position, the netbook hooked up with the Ethernet cable seems to be working quite well.
Breakfast this morning is fried eggs and omelet to be served on the condo balcony. According to Cozumel Insider there will be no boat people today.:

OK, so Chankanaab was closed. There was no way we were going to try to get through that hanging rope to gain access.
I inquired, in FLUENT Spanish, by the way, if the park was closed due to Mother’s Day. He informed us that NO, Mother’s Day is downtown, this is Chankanaab. While I felt a strong urge to get to the core of our miscommunication, we decided to save a couple hours and point Barney Cinco south to snorkel at Playa Corona.
The snorkeling was great here:
Warning – if you don’t like snorkel pictures you can never get the time spent looking at these back! ;)

We met Valentina, a cute little dachshund mix who just HAS to be related to our little Isla, who we adopted from Cozumel in 2009:

Our waiter is in a better mood than last year and even teases a three-foot long brown eel to come out to play at the water’s edge.
The decision was made to head on down to Punta Sur and have a beer at Rasta’s followed by lunch at Chen Rio:
It was horribly crowded so we left:
It was family day because it was Sunday and the beach next to Chen Rio was packed with families and every type of beach home made palapa you can imagine.
Don’t ruin your appetite!


Hours later after 4 margaritas, the large ceviche, grouper fillet and chicken fajitas it came to 830 pesos plus tip. A fantastic lunch at a decent price and Reyes is a great waiter. He rolled us right out of there since we were too full to walk!;)
Baño rating *
After a stop at Mezcalito’s for water and to check for possible beach nudity we head back to town via the Transversal, the road that cuts back to civilization half way down the island.
Then we are back to the condo for chill time at the pool (there is nothing coming out of my nose – it is water on the camera!):
and then it’s time for showers and drinks in the condo.
Every night we had to chat with our favorite amigo Christian from security:

The plan for tonight is dinner at Casa Denis followed by one of the best spectacles on Cozumel: Sunday Night At The Square. We like to get margaritas to go from Mosaicoz and enjoy the live music on the stage.
I’ll say one thing for the Mexican Nation. They really DO know how to rock a Sunday. It really is a day of fun.
Once again Casa Denis does not disappoint – seafood platter for 2 or 10 ;)
While we are having our drinks Luis rolls up in his wheel chair and we do the tourist thing by listening to two songs. His version of Mana’s Corazon Espinada is a great take on the song.
Adrian, owner of Especia’s and about half of Cozumel (not really) is spotted and we have Mapchick maps to deliver to him tomorrow at his Harley rental office, Eagle Rider.
Our dinner is two mango margaritas, two regular margaritas and the 600 peso seafood platter for two with the total bill an awesome 720 pesos plus tip and Leonardito is a great waiter and very friendly. The post-dinner straight shots are free and for some unknown reason margaritas keep popping up at our table as we visit with Adrian, talking about everything from fighter jets to motorcycles to tourism to ecology. Seriously, if Adrian is there you do not need a smart phone. All the local information is safely stored within his cabeza. He is a delight to talk to and is very fun. His family owns Casa Denis.

Baño rating *

Next we are off to Mosaicoz to visit our favorite (and only) German on Cozumel. Here it is, 10 PM and it is still 2 X 1 specials with Bianca serving margaritas:
Two margaritas for 60 pesos. And those two margaritas will just about do it for us. Bianca threw in some extra tequila and there is no live music in the square tonight so we grab a taxi back to our condo. It is past our bed time! On a school night!

Day 4
Today is a one boat day and we will make another attempt at going to Chankanaab Park. We make the promise to not judge them and the fact that they imprison wild dolphins for the sake of human entertainment. Besides, we left our bolt cutters back home so we will not be releasing Flipper today.
En route to Chankanaab we drop off a gift for Margarita, our car rental goddess and then drop off the Mapchick maps at Adrian’s before getting to the park just in time for the sea lion show. Not on par with your average Sea World show for sure. In fact it is quite lame but actually kind of cute. The new MC now yells out “How is the toys!” and most of the show is in spanish which is ironic given the fact that we were all gringos at the show except for one Japanese family.


Snorkeling is awesome here and we like to snorkel over to the dolphin prison to watch the uninformed participate in the dolphin swim. We are not judgmental because it truly was a magical experience for us years ago before we knew how these amazing animals are captured and abused.
Lunch at one of our favorite restaurants with the best fish fajitas on earth:
Sucking up all the fabulous fish I can before we return to land locked suffering:

Lunch consists of six margaritas, nachos and two orders of the most amazing fish fajitas on this island for 984 pesos plus tip.
Don’t they look happy?
Baño rating **
Back to the beach to chill & drink water &then we are out for another snorkel before hitting the road back to the condo.

Mr. and Mrs. Badger will be here soon and I am not sure if we are up to the challenge. What if we have to stay up past our bed time?
“The Badgers” arrive with what they call “Bag O’ Booze” and we chill for a while on the balcony, watching the free entertainment in our condo area before grabbing a taxi and heading for Casa Mission:
We start out with a quick tour of the restaurant’s tequila making facility and it is very interesting. Apparently us tequila non-aficionados do not understand the proper technique for testing tequila.
The other thing we are taught is the art of “photo-bombing” other people’s photos. We kind of semi-promised to make that a life-long commitment although I wouldn’t bet on it. Hey, that dude is photo-bombing his own picture!

Tomas was not able to eat my dinner due to an upset stomach (probably brought on by all the laughing and good times with our LG amigos):
but the left overs were collected to take back to the condo where, in horror, I watched as my well-meaning wife donated the shrimp and fajita meat to Christian, our condo night shift security guy.
It was a fun night and when the check arrived, without warning, we were treated to dinner. These awesome folks from Farve-land would not even take money for the tip. We hope to meet them some day in Akumal to return the favor. We had a printed 20% discount coupon from the restaurant Website and the bill comes to 1103 pesos for two orders of coconut shrimp, one surf and turf, one beef fajitas and some margaritas.

Baño rating ***
The taxi drops off the Badgers at their hotel downtown and then takes us back up to our condo at the north end of the hotel zone.

Day 5
We are awakened by a predawn thunderstorm rumbling through just like they do in Texas. The only difference was that we did not have two basket-case dogs to worry about and I didn’t have to check the fence to see if it had blown down.
Breakfast is “egg scrabble” (my wife makes up new words all the time. It’s a talent) and fried eggs served on the balcony:
9 AM now and still raining. Our plans to go to Punta Sur may be altered if this is an all-day rain situation.

We start out today with a quick trip to the nearby Sedena store for Coke and eggs.

We now do something we’ve never done. A CLOCKWISE trip around the island.

We head out on the Transversal Road and arrive at Punta Sur a while later. Usually it is $12 US per person for entry into this national park but, because we have doubts that the kayak guys will be running snorkel trips to the reef, we find out that the cost is half price if you just want to travel only halfway to the snorkeling area and stop at El Faro (the lighthouse).

We take that option and stop top visit the crocodile viewing tower on the way to the lighthouse. We spot four lounging crocs and they are in such a relaxed mood they decide to not attack us. Seriously, the walkway is a raised plank network over the swamp and these guys actually could reach you if they so desired it looks like to me.



Ironically there is a sign nearby announcing kayak rental in the wetlands here. I have never seen any takers here. It seems wrong to me to rent a kayak in a croc area:


After a nasty ride on a rough dirt road we arrive at the lighthouse. The goal after 133 steps straight up (sorry, Mapchick. You need to do a recount. It is not 132 steps) is a stunning view of the area, which, in today’s case is isolated thunderstorms all day long. Snorkeling will not occur today:


Baño rating *

On a related note, with Barney Cinco these large standing areas of water in the road must be treated with respect due to the large rusted out hole in the floorboard of the car.

Well, what does it matter? We are wearing our swim suits every day these days because we always maintain snorkel-ready status wherever we go on the island.

The museum here at the lighthouse is interesting and included in the admission price. There are some interesting artifacts and some great information on the history of lighthouses and the whole Maya trade process and the signs are in Spanish followed by English.

Another side note. Well, my new $9 “Dry Pak” from Cabela’s proves to be another worthless product in a long line of waterproof containers. We end up switching back to our equally worthless Seal Line pack and incorporate an addition zip lock bag inside which seems to work in keeping our dinero dry.

Continuing our drive back to the civilized side of the island we stop at Paradise Beach to check out the possibility of paddle boarding.

The cost is $12 US per person for all day use of water toys but we want to just use a paddle board for ten minutes to see if it will be fun. To get a beer here you must first pay $2 US per person and then pay the price of the beer. Well, that’s the way it is in these cruise-oriented clubs and it is not a bad deal at all. Crunch wanted to book out of there & never return because of the mexi-rap hop music. So we are out of there!

In the quest for lunch we stop by Rolandi’s on the water, walk in, sit at a table near the water, and are informed that they do not open until 1 PM, another 20 minutes. They are not even willing to bring us a drink and it is clear why Margaritaville is jamming next door and nobody is at Rolandi’s.

Nothing against Margaritaville but they do carry the reputation of having the worst margaritas on the island. Sorry, Jimmy. We make the decision to head up to the new place called Love Café and we are not disappointed:

Even though the cook is not there today the two waiters explain that they can make margaritas and serve a few of the items on the menu.

Crunch will respectfully salute any man who can cook:

Teo does an awesome job on my beef fajitas:

and mi esposa goes for the grilled fish:

The pico de gallo here is fantastic and the price is 780 pesos plus tip for six margaritas along with our entrees. It is a great lunch even though it takes a while to prepare (about 2 hours we believe he actually had to catch the fish 1st!),but the fajita meat is so tender.

Baño rating *

We then head on back to the condo for some nice, relaxing pool time which is quickly doused by a huge thunderstorm. A most unrelaxing development. Back to the room, y’all!

On a rainy day it is fun to do laundry. Especially when you have a full size Mexican washer and dryer and when you start the process and your wife finishes it:

La camarista. Over the years of Mexico travel we have had good maids and some not quite as good. Well, we hit the jackpot again. Our rental agents, Isabella and Matias, have imposed some minimum standards on the properties they rent and maid service is no exception. I call it “intuitive maid service” and by that I mean the maid pays close attention to your daily habits and cleans the room at a time where it will have the least impact on the occupants. Our maid is Maria De la Cruz and she is a great maid. As is the norm here in Mexico she speaks no English and it’s fun because it creates a learning situation for all of us.

Well, it is now 6 PM and the rain continues.

My co-occupant is displaying a bit of reluctance in venturing out for dinner and wants to order food delivered. How this very important part of our lives plays out tonight will be most interesting.

A check on the union Website back in the real world informs us that “No negotiations are scheduled at this time”. The strike continues. I wonder when I will be going back to work. Coming up on a month off now. That life seems so far away right now. It would seem that there is a lot to drink about. Patience is the key. “Patience. I want it and I want it NOW"


We were not successful last year on going back to Albino’s for dinner. Every time we went there they were closed. Well, leave it to my very talented esposa to crack the code on making the free local phone calls here in the condo. There is a phone provided for local calls and also a Vonage phone for unlimited calls to the US which is standard for most condos on Cozumel. We talked to Jorge at Albino’s and a reservation is made for 7:30. This place is off the path that is beaten and is up on Avenida 20 between Calle 10 and 20 on the north end of town. Apparently in slow season if there are no reservations they will close the restaurant and go home:

We arrive on time and after about 3.5 seconds decide on the seafood platter. Quite honestly we have never ordered anything else here. The platter consists of conch (yes, legal catch up to 12 tons from May to October, 7 inch minimum) grilled fish, squid, shrimp, mussels, garlic bread, vegetables and a nice chunk of lobster all for 500 pesos, about $42 US. Simply fantastic.


With a bourbon and Coke and ?2 margaritas the total bill is 700 pesos plus the tip. We always tip 20 % .

Baño rating **

As we leave, the young woman and her daughter who were standing across the street crossed the street and went upstairs to the restaurant. They made the family leave while they served their customers! We just could not believe it. We would have loved to have them stay and visit while we ate. Next time we will intervene.

We take a nice after dinner stroll & after a quick stop at Cressi dive store (Tomas is in the market for a new snorkel but not a pink one at $50. The last $45 snorkel he bought leaked and he now uses the one he bought from the rental shop called Scuba Du at Chankanaab for ten bucks) we are in search of ice cream.

We find an ice cream store at the southeast corner of the town square. It was 32 pesos plus tip for two scoops each. It melts before you can possibly eat it all or most! 

We are into a taxi and back to the condo for 60 pesos and Christian, our night security guy, offers us what I think he called jicama. It was pretty good with the consistency of an apple.

Day 6

So far looks like a decent morning here. One ship has cruised by and I believe today will be a two-boat day.
We actually have a commitment this morning. We are not too crazy about having an appointment on vacation but this one is with Matias so he can show us a certain top floor penthouse condo unit that goes for $149 per night for a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath.

After that I believe the plan will be to head up to Club Cozumel Caribe, one of our favorite clubs and, I might add, they have excellent seafood.

Insect repellent. YEOW! The tabano is especially brutal this spring here in Cozumel. This little brown fly looks so harmless and I normally do not have this much trouble with them but on Day 2 Tomas did not apply bug spray to his legs & here we are several days later and the bites are just now becoming not quite as annoying.
For you folks who live in the south the experience is very similar to a fire ant bite but without the pustule that forms at the bite location. A product called Afterbite has not been effective but hydrocortisone seems to help.
Condo exploration goes well & we now have an idea of where to possibly stay next year.

Today could go either way on the weather & the day ends up cloudy with three or four heavy thunderstorms nicely spaced out evenly during the day.

Club Cozumel Caribe is doing moderate business today and the Disney invasion is in full force. The Disney boat people are different than any of the other “cruzeros” we have seen before. Not only are their kids surprisingly well-mannered and respectful but the parents were also well-behaved and none of them were even drinking so much as a beer.
Of course we snorkeled:

For the first time today we were hit with the required 100 peso per person entry fee. It’s all good, though. You save your payment stub and that amount is applied to your bill after you are done eating and drinking all day there. This cuts down on the cheapos who just want to show up and use the beach facilities and the amazingly clean bathrooms while they suck down the juice boxes and store bought beer without helping out on the cost of maintaining a great beach club.

Luis and Roberto are our waiters today and our lunch is briefly interrupted as we run for cover just before lunch due to the downpour.

Four margaritas, blackened fish fillet, shrimp fajitas and buffalo wings for 838 pesos (then subtract 200 pesos that was applied by paying the entrance fee).
The snorkeling is amazing here and the current is such that you can walk up to one end of the property and do a 20-30 minute drift snorkel back to the beach area. It is great for beginners and everybody seems to enjoy snorkeling here. Fish sightings today include sargent major, scrawled filefish, porcupine fish, triggerfish, eel, many types of grunts-in fact, most of the fish on our fish chart.
Of course we snorkel, snorkel, snorkel after lunch. It was pouring!
Baño rating ***** Very careful consideration is given to the baño ratings here and this place is truly deserving of our full five stars. Not just spotless, but also air conditioned, a trait almost unheard of in a beach club.
We are back at the condo for cocktails and the complicated process of deciding where to go for dinner on an island where there are almost limitless options.
Dinner: We have never made it to La Perlita, a locals favorite, so “tonight’s the night”. A 60 peso taxi ride takes us way out past 65th to the most wonderful discovery of this trip:
We feel so inspired by Turdle!
No, they don’t have chicken fajitas on the menu, but yes, they served it to Tomas anyway & with an order of grilled fish for crunch, two huge, strong margaritas and a three layer slab of ice cream the bill comes to a delightful 490 pesos plus tax. At about $40 US it will probably end being the most economical meal out this trip. This place is on our list for every trip.
Baño rating ** (Briefly trapped by the door, but Pedro comes to my rescue).

Day 7
Just a bit of rain early this morning and we wonder what the weather will bring today but are ready for any weather type. Tomas has mastered the art of dodging standing water to avoid getting drenched through the hole in the car. Never mind the fact that the main wire harness to the engine in the back lies bare on the floor and flops around a bit.
This morning we are off to buy products at Mega to donate to the Humane Society Of Cozumel. We also have temporary nylon leashes from our vet at home to give them. Every little bit counts even though it kind of depresses us to see so many animals in need of a home. If I see a big pair of brown eyes staring wistfully back at me can I resist the power? This wonderful organization is where we adopted our precious little angel, Isla, our dachshund mixto, three years ago this month:
They were not overly enthused about the Purina dog food we bought but said they could mix it in and make it work. They prefer the Sam’s Club brand, but Sam’s would not let us buy it without getting a membership so we had to get what we could at Bodega.

Isla’s favorite before Tomas:

At this time they had 30 dogs and 50 cats that were available for adoption. Marvin and Jose are so awesome here. And all there staff, volunteers, and donors do an amazing job!

Our travels then take us to The Money Bar:

A great beach club with good snorkeling, awesome food, and the cleanest restrooms in all of Cozumel.

We get there and Tomas immediately starts the negotiation process for paddleboarding and settles on $10 US for 20 minutes. It was his 1st time & he did a great job, especially compared to the guy half his age who went after him and made him look like an expert. His father was even worse and injured his hand in the process.

Age is just a number when you have a pinch of surfer dude in your blood:

So glad the old fart ;) went for the padleboarding instead of this:

Of course then we had to snorkel:




For lunch we had two beers, six margaritas, small order of shrimp ceviche and two orders of blackened grilled fish for a total of 865 pesos plus the tip:

Baño rating *****

We end our time at Money Bar with a margarita powered (no worries we were fine [:D]) snorkel down to Fiesta Americana, following the reef:




about a 45-minute fantastic snorkel with a (½ mile?) walk back on the road to Money Bar:

It was pouring as usual for the last ?5 days:


And you really have to watch for the tope’s – on the ground & at eye level!

Nice zipper chica!

Upon our eventual return to Money Bar Barney Cinco refused to start.

Tom's a Beetle guy from way back so we just push and jump start the car and head back to Isis for an exchange car. Thanks to the nice staffer at money Bar who ran over & helped with the push over the tope!

As luck would have it, a couple gringos were just turning in their car and we are able to get a new red Bug with less mileage and in a lot better shape. I recognize the car as Ocho Rojo (so what, we name our Mexican rental cars) from the 2009 Swine Not Trip.

I just never get tired of slamming that glove box door closed every time the car moves:
The exchange process takes ten minutes (microseconds in Mexican Time) and we are back to the condo for more agua purificada, eventual cocktails and chillage.

Dinner tonight will be with a beautiful sunset view from Prima Trattoria Restaurant’s 9th floor balcony seating area atop El Cantil Condos just south of downtown. An 80 peso taxi ride gets us there just before sunset and the views are great even if we have to move closer to the building due to yet another thunderstorm:




The dinner is great and 375 pesos plus tip for one margarita, one rum and Coke, one seafood pizza and an order of mozzarella strips proves that an affordable dinner can be had here even though the menu includes a lot of expensive items:


Baño rating *****

Try to resist the urge to rotate the faucet upward for the next unsuspecting customer:

We hit the road and get vanilla ice cream at the little place across from Mega for 70 pesos plus tip.

Day 8
Dinner will be here at the condo tonight because we enjoy cooking one dinner each trip. Mega will have all we need this morning and then it’s off to Playa Azul beach club for the day.

1st a little shopping at Mega(love those silver trays):

It is so nice to be greeted by the lovely waiters:


Once again we experience the best snorkeling Cozumel has to offer (only 1 picture because you must be tired of them by now!):


Had some lunch:

Fish whatever appetizer was incredible:

Grilled fish & shrimp fajitas:

Tomas’s freaky mixed grill:


Of course we snorkeled after lunch too:


We meet chronic LG lurker Susan and her wonderful esposo Mike from Keller (5 miles from us), Tejas & also talk with Freddy and Amy from a town north of Houston.

Freddy and Amy are big fans of Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory and he is from Spring, Texas) but since they do not have any ties to Jim we want nothing to do with them. (Kidding, of course) as they are so Cozumel-holic we cannot help but instantly love them. Sheesh, they got married RIGHT THERE on the rock at Playa Azul.

Susan recognized us from LG( a very funny story I am not going to tell you ;) & hollered out to us as we were snorkeling by. Dang paparazzi!

She knew us as Crunch and Tomas and said that our trip reports really inspired them to return to Cozumel. What a great feeling to know that the work you put into a trip report is appreciated. I know I really do appreciate them and every report has something to learn from. It was so fun talking to all four of these awesome Texas folks that we offered them cocktail hour here at the condo tomorrow at 5ish as long as they bring their own booze. That is how giving we are. Then we will all pour into a taxi and head to dinner somewhere.

Baño rating **

After ANOTHER incredible snorkel experience we are back to the condo for chillage and drinks.

Tonight is our stay at the condo night and we will attempt to cook our penne pasta and shrimp recipe that Crunch got from Fitness Magazine.

Shopping for ingredients was, to say the least, interesting. Did y’all know that the words for stuff in English is different that the words for Spanish? Fennel? I don’t even know what that stuff is much less hinojo. We’ll see how it goes.

There is pizza delivery here so if all else fails there is that.

Chopping maniac:

Chef Boyardee:


Food art A:

Food art B:

Finished product:

Dinner turns out pretty good even if it does take us a couple hours to prepare and cook it. Maybe next time we can just buy one of those grilled chickens from one of the barbecue places over on Av. 30.

Baño rating here at the condo *****

Day 9

Tomas's stomach feeling a bit jumpy this morning. He thinks he abused it yesterday by not drinking nearly enough water and also eating too much of that incredibly hot green sauce at lunch. I swear that stuff was just as hot as wasabi sauce. Yikes. Tasted pretty good at the time.

Today is a one boat day and it is sailing into port past our condo right now:

Today is Condo Day. We have yet to snorkel here at the house and today is the day. A great drift snorkel plan is to walk up to Coral Princess Hotel, cruise through their lobby like you own the place, jump off their dock and drift snorkel back to Nah Ha condos and repeat.

Last year at the jump in location the condo key slipped off my neck and sank in the ten foot deep water. Not to worry. The water clarity is such that we could see our key in the water and retrieve when we went back for another round:



Well, we got rained out again ( I don’t mind a little rain on vacation but this is turning out to be one of the wettest trips we’ve ever had) and our planned chill day at the condo pool was changed to a shopping day:


They were having some pretty good sales at Cinco Soles and the parking is free if you park in the parking garage Rentadora Isis uses. Got a good deal on some T-shirts.

Everybody raves about Camaron Dorado so we go there for lunch:


Well, we were not that impressed. Ceviche for 120 pesos for the small order is more than at Money Bar and it really was not all that good. The chicken fajitas were pretty good and I did not hear any complaints about the shrimp fajitas. Oh, no beer, here. Didn’t see that one coming. 344 pesos (or $30 US) was so much steeper than I hear folks on TA talk about that I actually went and checked to make sure there was not a separate stack of menus designated for gringos (there was not).

My stomach is still a bit jumpy after all the green sauce at Playa Azul yesterday so we head back to the condo for some afternoon chill time as we watch storm after storm roll through.

Our new friends show up at the condo. They are sweet and funny and just awesome. I love this lady – she is also the queen of a province in Sweden:


This truly goodhearted gentleman is actually gainfully employed by the French Foreign Legion – don’t worry, he is in disguise!

and after some intense discussion (OK, not that intense) we decide on Parrilla Mission and, in Steve Jobs’ last words, all I can say is “oh, WOW”:



What a great place. We order the 185 pesos mixed meat plate for two, Mike gets the mixed platter or something like that and the bill for four of us with margaritas and red wine comes to $60 US plus tax. A great value here and great food and, I might add, great company:





Day 10

Today will be Chankanaab day dos because we had such a good time there last week and it is a good place to get fish fajitas. The plan is to pick up our Playa Azul amigos around 9 AM and hit the road.

The plan is quickly changed.

The route of taking the transversal road across the island and around to Chankanaab is altered when the car dies while going slow-speed over a huge tope near the square. The captain of the car, me, orders all gringos out to push the car around the corner to a safe place. One of the store owners yells out “you can DO it!” in a great adaptation of that line from the Adam Sandler movie.

It is a two block walk to Isis, where, incredibly, Margarita is there at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. What an angel. After two VW Bug failures (Margarita informs me that Barney Cinco had a loose generator wire-battery was OK). I am ready to accept anything and in ten minutes we are on our way in a 2010 VW GOL:


A model I’ve never heard of and it turns out to be a great little car. The car is an upgrade and there is no mention of an increase in the rate. Although the car has no features like power steering or air conditioning it drives great and it is nice to be in a “real” car that can handle a little water-OK, a LOT of water as we found out while driving down the east coast of the island.

It truly was incredible how much rain was coming down without a tropical storm in the area. I believe the tope incident with the car was a gift from Chaac, the Maya god of rain. Since he was messing with our vacation so much he wanted us to be dry as we drove.

That convertible, even with the cheesy top up, would not have kept all four of us dry or from drowning.

Since we were at a crawl going over the tope my theory, after years of Bug ownership, is that the rainwater spilled out of the cargo area and onto the distributor, and that will shut down this ordinarily rugged car. We have no pictures from this white knuckle drive because with the torrential rains you could not see the road much less the ocean! For all we knew we were in a submarine.

OK, so Chankanaab was closed again. Second Sunday in a row and we have no idea why because it is nice to go there without all the boat people there.

We end up at Money Bar. After a couple beers we head out for our first snorkel there in the pouring rain:








The fish do not care about the rain & they swarm around us because we are the only fools out there:

Back on shore we have some margaritas, grilled fish, more margaritas and the bill comes to 1,450 pesos plus tip – look out for this tough hombre though:

Freddy and Amy show up with terrible last day stink ;) & all 6 of us do the snorkel route from Money Bar to Fiesta Americana, about a 30-minute trip with a ten minute walk back to Money Bar. And what a great snorkel it was:



We drop our new friends off back at Playa Azul and plan to have dinner with them tomorrow night.
Dinner tonight: The plan was Sonora Grill, a great restaurant that is open seven days a week. Except today.
Kind of a strange Sunday night with many places closed, possibly due to the rain. We decide to try Kondessa, one of our pleasant discoveries from last year.

The pollo poblano and pasta Kahlo camaron:


are both excellent and with two margaritas and two bottles of water the bill is an amazing $45 US plus tip:


This is a great little place with a romantic garden and some new-agy kind of “Zen-ish” music playing.

Baño rating * (No soap, or even an attempt to have soap available)

Ice cream at Bacio down on Melgar is $6 US. (We are almost out of pesos).
A 60 peso taxi ride gets us back to the condo.

Day 11

Incredibly, after six days of almost constant rain, a glimmer of hope appears. Chankanaab today? A risky decision because you don’t want to pay $21 US per person to sit in the rain. A one boat day today would make it a good day for this great park.

We may even apply sun block today. THAT is confidence.

Too risky for Chankanaab today because it is raining when we got there.

We are back to Club Cozumel Caribe and were not charged the 200 peso entry fee.

It was a very slow day here today and there was nobody left at this beach club when we left just before 3 PM.

No pictures since you have seen it all before.

Great snorkeling even if Tomas once again got bit by a Spanish grunt. It was no huge deal, just a couple drops of blood, but he felt it was pretty rude. The same thing happened to him in 2010.
I guess once in a while they just like to sample a little tourist meat.

The odd part today was how aggressive the grackles (zanates in Spanish) have become. One bird landed on the face of a woman there in an attempt to share her nachos.

Several margaritas, a couple beers, water, chicken tacos and grilled fish again (didn’t see THAT one coming) and the bill was $79 US plus tip and IT DID NOT RAIN THE WHOLE DAY. YEE HAW! Mucho bueno.

We see Queen Susan and Colonel Mike during our snorkel and decide we will all go to dinner at Sonora Grill tonight.

As we learned from Turdle and Hallin’ today is “Fake Last Day”.

Our guests arrive and a after a couple cocktails on the deck we mosie down to Coral Princess and catch a taxi to Sonora Grill.

There are only two other people having dinner and we get our favorite table right there on the corner of Calle 15 and Juarez.

The seafood platter for two is still only 500 pesos and two orders of that with red wine, some margaritas and big bottles of water costs us $124 US plus tip:


When you hit the bano after feasting on the seafood platter this may make you think twice!


Diet starts manana……….
Of course, all that good food turns prices into froggies apparently:


Baño rating **

Next, we lead our guests to our favorite ice cream shop on Calle 1 and Avenida 5. Good chocolate chip ice cream here. I don’t know for sure what flavor Susan ordered but this decision was very painful for her and she treated it very seriously, like when you’re signing a mortgage or something.

The woman has a very analytical mind and has studied our trip reports from the past on LocoGringo from the safety of lurkdom. Whenever we need to know what we did on previous trips we just ask her. “Say, The Suze, just what exactly did we do on day 5 of the 2009 Cozumel trip?”. Like, who needs a computer?

We wander down the street and he finally finds us. Our beloved Felipe serenades us with our favorite song to hear on Cozumel. “I Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, jeer after jeer…..” sung in a heavy Mexico accent never sounded so good.

After all this fun with our new friends we pile back into the taxi and head back to the quite north end of the island.

Day 12
We are up bright and early for our last day in paradise. The weather is fantastic and we now will never again take for granted nice weather right on the borderline of rainy season. Eggs again this morning and we are off to Chankanaab Park.


Today the weather was absolutely perfect at Chankanaab Park. We got there early and it was easy to tell it was a three boat day because the place was rocking. Even the lame-ass sea lion show sounded exciting today.

Water was rough but the snorkeling was fun and we saw our first ever green moray eel. Of course, in my snorkel voice, I hollered out “now THAT’S a MORAY!”


Once again for lunch the ceviche was great and the fish fajitas were spectacular with the bill coming to 792 pesos plus tax for two orders of fish fajitas, four margaritas and ceviche:


Tomas saluds you!


After our after-lunch snorkel we stop by an Internet café to download our boarding passes for tomorrow and then stop by to turn the car back into Margarita at Isis.

We are then given a ride back to the condo and during our pool dip we finally meet THE TA destination expert, Mark and his wife, Denise. At last we meet. Not wanting to taint them with our “Last Day Stink” we trudge up the elevator for the task of doing one last load of laundry and packing.

Dinner tonight? Who knows where? La Choza? Camilo’s? Decisions, decisions.

We choose La Choza.

I am so glad we gave this little place another chance after a not so awesome meal in 2009. Our waiter, Angel, was very attentive and had kind of a witty sense of humor, making our interactions, all in Spanish, interesting.

The fantastic dinner was fish/pork fajitas for mi esposa, pork/beef fajitas for me and with two margaritas and two bottles of water came to a very affordable $47 US plus the tip.

Sadly, the pictures seem to have disappeared into the last day stink pit………

Baño rating ***

We then head back to our condo to end our last, and awesome, day. On the way back to Melgar Tomas looked through the window of a dive shop and there she is.

The Snorkel Of My Dreams. Before his poor beleagured wife can say “What the………….?” I have paid for my $18 US snorkel and I am ready to go home.

Tomas now owns no less than 18 snorkels of which only 2 work, 26 pairs of fins of which only 1 works, and 8 masks which he will probably replace with a new any day!

Day 13
We are up early for breakfast on the balcony this morning. We’ll have one last snorkel this morning before heading to the airport, a five minute taxi ride from the condo.

On our way to our last snorkel we ask a taxista at Coral Princess if he will meet us at our condo at 11 AM for ride to the airport. We jump in at Coral Princess and our last snorkel is a good one.

Back to the condo for one last load of laundry and showers, say good bye to Matias and meet our driver who shows up ten minutes early.

As usual we display our usual highly mature reaction to leaving:


The five minute ride to the airport is $14 US and check in is quick.

After a stop at Cinco Soles we stop at the Grab & Go for chicken and beef fajitas which actually are pretty good and the bill is $24 US:


The free Internet at the airport is down right now but so far it looks like our flight will be on time.

Our flight leaves early and is a great flight, especially since we were able to snag one of the emergency exit rows. Nice leg room. Once back at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport we are back in another winding line for Immigration.

An hour after landing we are in the car and ready to battle through rush hour traffic to rescue our fur kids from the kennel, which is also our awesome veterinarian.

Two hours and 20 minutes after landing we are back at the house with two very surprised and very happy dogs.
The trip has ended and was great.
The memories will last a lifetime, except for the parts we forget. That’s why we have trip reports (and Susan, The Lurker Queen).

Kudos to anyone who survived this incredibly long report!
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#2 Steve


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Posted 13 July 2012 - 12:50 PM

Crunch...You need to change your tag for the photos to [img]. The [image] tags only work on the LG board.
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#3 ccannon707



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 02:16 PM

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I clicked on each pix link to see them. Sounds like you had a blast, thankfully due to a good attitude (re: rain). I think I gained 5 lbs reading it :P
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I drink to forget, but I eat to remember.... so it all balances out

.· `·. ><((((º> .· `·. <º))))>< ,·. ..· `·. .· `·. <º))))>< .· `·.

#4 mexcelia



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 03:31 PM

This was so much fun to read! Great travelogue! "Egg scrabble" looked delicious, and I don't think I would have been able to resist leaving that fountain upside down for the next guest, fun. Enjoyed the snorkel pics, and that view from your condo, wow! Thanks for putting all this down.......and now I have to go eat something! :lol:
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#5 Lisa H

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 09:37 PM

You two sound like more fun than the people our parents warned us about. LOVED the trip report!
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#6 crunch



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Posted 16 July 2012 - 12:18 PM

Glad you enjoyed it. I remember that the administrator of this board asked me to post it last year so I thought i would do it again.
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