Friday, 6 March 2015

Lusted Over in Cozumel, Mexico

Ah yes, it's not often that I can write a headline like that, so I'm making the most of it! Those details later however... We have to start this article at the start of the day, which is Thursday 12 February 2015 and it is only around 7:30am.

Since Tuesday night we have sailed across the Caribbean and wake up that morning in Cozumel, Mexico. It is not that long after dawn and the sun is still hiding behind the bank of cloud just above the horizon.

The first thing I had seen when drawing back the curtains from the cabin window had been the side of a large cruise ship and a lone man standing on a balcony waving at our ship. I resisted the urge to wave back and we had gone for breakfast and then grabbed the camera and came off the ship for a walk.

By the time we were getting towards the end of the pier it had become apparent that the other ship was several times the size of Thomson Dream. It was the Regal Princess and there was something distinctive about the passengers... Around 90% of them were men. And the few women were obviously er... together... The ship was evidently running a gay cruise!

As we neared the shore I noticed a mast and yards sticking up over a wall and we went to have a look at a sailing ship and instead found - a mast and yards... sitting on the dockside outside the Customs House!

The sea had a broken layer of brown seaweed floating on it that was being washed up in great quantities on the beach. A few cormorants were repeatedly diving into it, it probably had a great multitude of creatures living off it both below the surface...

...and above it. Smaller birds were walking over it, getting rich pickings of small crustaceans presumably.

As we walked alongside the beach, gangs of workers in blue with CADET emblazoned on their t-shirts were being marshalled along the Promenade, split into small groups and sent onto the beach to start bagging the seaweed, which we thought might be used for fertilizer, animal feed or even stuffing for furniture or car seats once dried. One such band filed past us and I found myself the object of unswerving eyes and a pursed mouth of appreciation. So obvious was she that I almost found myself bursting out laughing, but just nodded at her as we passed after which Fran did burst out laughing. It was only when the gangs were all deployed on the beach leaving a guard on each set of steps whose equipment included handcuffs and a side arm that we realised they were prison gangs or at least some sort of community service. Lusted over by a Mexican female prisoner... hey.. it's a start...

Blackpool has its Golden Mile of amusement arcades. Cozumel has diamond brokers. Cartier, DeBeers, etc. These shops had armed guards standing outside and a police patrol car was constantly on the strip, cruising up the length of the Promenade to turn and come back down before repeating the sequence over.

We came to a large attractive sculpture of a pair of reef divers swimming through an archway. We took each other's photos and an American voice asked "Would you take our photos if we took you together?" Two young men smiled at us and I took their camera and snapped a couple of shots at them, counting down from three to warn them when not to blink. They were from Maryland.

"It's nice here, but we are a bit wary of being mugged..." one said. For the second time I almost burst out laughing.

"I think you'll be alright along here," I pointed out. "Apart from all the armed guards outside all these shops, there's loads of prison guards up and down and there's also extra security people on this side!" One such of these latter, a huge chap in a white security uniform with a gun at his waist and a peaked cap on his head standing right behind Fran nodded eagerly at my words and smiled at the pair. "Anyone would need to have a death wish to try mugging someone along here I think!" I said and we left them, two young men from the country with the most appalling death rates from gun crime in the world, feeling nervous at being somewhere else...

The Promenade was not exactly full of features, but was attractive and had been designed deliberately to inject some fun into the setting for tourists. A series of bird caricatures punctuated planters with flowers and palm trees and we had a pleasant walk for a couple of hours. It was quite busy as we turned to go back as we were walking against a tide of our own passengers and groups of men holding hands or with linked arms and, I swear, with intertwined beards... Some looked like hillbillies, reminding me of that Sky series about the eccentric millionaire family Duck Dynasty... It was a source of amusement for the rest of the week how many times this ship cropped up in conversation and for the husband of the couple we were talking to say to his wife "There you are! I wasn't making it up!"...

We toyed with the idea of having a drink in a bar, but it was so hot and also lunch time so we made our way back onto the ship and to the open deck on Deck 11 where we spent much of the afternoon. We got showered and changed and then before heading down for a meal, caught Tomas and Maris's late afternoon set on Deck 10.

Cozumel had a different look than that of first thing this morning before the sun had come out properly! In the restaurant that night we had joined a random table but then recognised waiting staff from a previous cruise on the Celebration and we stayed with them for the rest of the week after that, sometimes at a shared table and sometimes at a table for two.

We again spent our evening in the Tides Bar, striking up conversations with people who came to sit with us and leave us as different shows elsewhere on the ship started and ended. Tomorrow, we'll be at Costa Maya, also in Mexico. Although there are some trips to the old pyramids of Mexico, these tend to be eleven hours long and Miss Franny is still recovering from being ill so we have left the guided tours for our final day when we'll have a look at some of the old plantation houses on Jamaica. This is to be a relaxing holiday and today has been a good start!

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