Our last day of diving went well. I very much enjoyed my days with Challenge Diving, they do a great job. On my dives were people from Colorado…and one man from New Jersey. He was a hoot. Italian, with a great Jersey accent, and a name like DeLucci! On our second dive, Greg DeLucci’s mask broke. It was bad enough that he had to ascend. On his safety stop, I glanced up to make sure he was doing all right, when I saw what looked like glass falling through the water to the reef. I went after it, and it turned out it was his prescription lens. As a diver with a prescription mask, I appreciate how devastating the loss of a lens would be during a trip! When I ascended and was in the dive boat, I told him I found the lens, and he could not have been any happier! He told me that just before I came up, he had said, “Tony Tony please come down, something’s lost and must be found!” I had never heard that before…but it turns out it is something he says to St Anthony (Patron Saint of the Lost) when he loses something. Of course, he calls him Tony. Funny guy!
Did I mention I was traveling to Cozumel? Well, I haven’t been here since last July, and Randy became so critically ill right after we got home (glad he didn’t go critical in Cozumel, he wouldn’t be here), and many things have just been put to the side because of Randy’s recovery. The need to find new management prompted the visit, but a lot needs to be done. So, now painting is scheduled, I’m oiling some furniture (yes, OILING it, it is wood), I bought new appliances, and new outdoor furniture, and new kitchen stuff, and lamps…etc. A lot of other things are in the works. I’m spending tomorrow making sure we all have our duckies in a row.
What struck me when I arrived was the quiet. The Cozumel government decided (finally!) to enforce the one way only coastal road between the ocean and our home. Now the traffic is southbound only, and no taxis allowed. The other lane is for walkers, bikers, runners, scooters, segway tours, and things like that. It is so quiet! I hear my chimes in the breeze, the birds, the wind through the palms, and even the ocean once in a while! (we are on the leeward side of Cozumel where the water is very calm). I’ve just been mesmerized by it! Today is Sunday, so the locals are on the beach, but they will leave southbound instead of northbound! Awesome. This is just fantastico!
So, the first day I arrived I jumped in the water to snorkel right away. It was very peaceful….and I’m staying shallow because I am alone. But shallow is fine. I met with our new managers the next morning, and it went very well, even though I was so distracted by the quiet and the blue of the water. Then I had things to do, like go over to the mainland and buy stuff. I hate taking any time away from the water, but I forced myself on the ferry. Of course, as I pulled out of our palapa to leave, I accidentally hit the rear view mirror driver side and busted it. Ever tried driving without it? I do NOT recommend it. I ended up taping it on! So off to Playa del Carmen. I found a cab, told him I wanted to go to Liverpool *(department store) spend 30 minutes shopping and rush back to catch the next ferry back. So that is what we did. It took a little more than 30 minutes…even though I had all the model numbers ready, it takes them a while to figure out the sale. Whatever, just hurry it up! After 45 minutes or so I was finished, so back to Playa. I needed water so I stopped into an Oxxo, and left my Liverpool bag in the store. Don’t worry, I got it back. I also realized on the ferry over that I had forgotten to bring my cell phone. Oh, and I also forgot to lock the door to my house. It is so true: I would leave my head behind if it was not attached. Idiot!
I had a couple of nice, easy going dive days, then scheduled a day of the cursed shopping. I went to the lighting store, Boxito, which is a big retailer here for home decor. The light I want is hanging on display. But I was informed it does not exist. It’s in the 2014 catalog. Oh. Well, it is no longer available. Anywhere in Mexico. Sorry. OH! There are two in Playa del Carmen. I said great, I’ll take those two and the light on display at the store, and that will make the 3 lights I need. THAT was an issue. Special permission would be needed. The next thing I know, the lights are not in Playa, they are nowhere to be found in Mexico. Period. My head was spinning. Then it was off to Sam’s with Laurel, our next door neighbor and former manager. Now, when I shop, I walk in, tell them what I want, then I get OUT. I hate shopping, especially here. It took over an hour for me to buy the things I needed. The salesperson had to check with his superiors a million times. Anyone not familiar with the 3rd world would have an attack if they went shopping down here for anything other than souvenirs.
Now, there may be people who bristle at my calling Mexico a third world country, the now PC term “developing nation”. But it is. And here is why, I have one criteria for whether or not a place is 3rd world. If the country still uses carbon paper to make copies, it is 3rd world. End of story. And yes, they still use carbon paper down here. It has come a long way, but they still use carbon paper. It is also the truth that in every 3rd world country I have visited I have noticed the lack of problem solving skills. There must be a study on this, I will have to look. But from Mexico to Zimbabwe to Mozambique to Nairobi…no one seems to be able to solve a problem. And when YOU come up with the solution, they look at you as though you just grew 3 heads. And of course, they don’t do it. They just pass you on to the next person who will not be able to help you.
Ah. As I sit in my dining room, looking at the bluest of Caribbean seas, I have to admit it is worth the aggravation to be here. I snorkeled once today, but I need to go back out at sunset and hunt for octopus. Today I looked for seahorses. No, I did not find any, but I know they are there! Well, back to oiling my table, then heading out to see what is going on in MY ocean. I’ll let you know.
In May 2012, I volunteered with All Out Africa for 3 1/2 weeks doing fish surveys and Whale Shark research in Tofo, Mozambique. I was the only Boomer! Age aside, I invited my fellow volunteers to come and visit me at my home in Cozumel, Mexico for some fun diving, and in July 2013, 3 of them did!
Marcel and Daniela arrived from Cancun around lunchtime, as we had a night dive planned. Felix, who had arrived the day before, and I were so excited to see them! It was as if no time had passed at all since our time in Tofo a year ago. Randy and I took everyone to the other side of the island for a drink. We were all excited for the night dive, it was Felix’s first, and Daniela and Marcel’s second (but they said their first night dive was not a big deal). A night dive in Cozumel is almost always gorgeous so I could not wait to get them down there. Felix was a bit on the nervous side, but that is completely normal. We got to the boat, a 35 foot luxury liner compared to the zodiac we dove off of in Tofo, we were briefed, and we descended during twilight. It is best to do a night dive with beginners at sundown, the darkness comes on gradually, almost unnoticed, and it eases them into the experience. Night brings out different fish, different animals, and I so very much wanted them to see an octopus.
It would be really unusual for one to do a night dive in Cozumel and not see an octopus, but hey, you never know. I was worried during the dive until we spotted that first octopus, then ahhhhhh….I relaxed and enjoyed the next 5 octopi! Huge crabs, eels, open corals, lobsters, brittle stars…night diving is wonderful. And the colors are amazing! Using lights really shows the beauty and color of the reef and the corals. Just gorgeous. They LOVED the night dive (of course!). Afterward, we went to the Money Bar to eat. Diving makes one hungry!
The next morning Felix left us for Cancun and home to London…he starts an internship next week, so…holiday time is over for now for him! But 3 weeks in Mexico was a great way to celebrate his graduation! On the way home from dropping him off at the ferry Marcel wanted to know if we could do another night dive! Sure! I’m always up for a night dive! So the three of us went again, and had another great dive. There were several first timers on the boat for the night dive, so there was nervous energy down below. Everything went well, though. Home to bed for our early morning dive adventure!
Off we went the next morning to Punta Palancar and El Paso de Cedral. Diving with us were Carol and Brian. Brian is a quadriplegic, and still is able to dive. He was a Salvage Diver in the Air Force, and I thanked him for his service. I don’t know if that is how he was hurt, but salvage diving can be quite dangerous. After they “gear” him up, the dive master on the boat holds Brian’s tank and that is how he dives. I am full of admiration for him…he and his wife are obviously strong minded individuals.
The dives were beautiful….we saw turtles and groupers and giant parrotfishes and eels and a nurse shark….very beautiful dives. We went to dinner with my husband and daughter, Ally, and our next door Cozumel neighbors, Lyn and Mark. It was a fabulous meal in great company.
Alas, all wonderful things have an end, and Marcel and Daniela headed out this morning for Cancun to Philadelphia, then Daniela home to Munich and Marcel home to Zurich. It was so natural to be together, as though no time had passed. We discussed doing another volunteer trip together…maybe to Thailand. We will try to make that work! It meant so much to me that they came to Cozumel to visit me this summer…we had a very strong group in Tofo, and I feel connected to all of them. Living in the same house with people for weeks does tend to create bonds of affection, and I am very fond of Felix, Marcel, and Dani. Hasta Luego, mi amigos!
Why don’t YOU visit Cozumel? Check out our beautiful home, we rent it so come visit! http://www.vrbo.com/368692
Nope, not with a shark this time. This time it was a fan. Yes, a ceiling fan. About 5a.m. this morning, Randy and I heard a major crash….I thought someone was smashing in the glass doors…I heard glass breaking and scattering, a one of a kind sound. Obviously, it woke us both up. So Randy turned on the light and said, “Holy shit, Tam, it’s the Great White Shark again”! At the end of my side of the bed was our bedroom ceiling fan, glass all over the floor and the bed. Randy said I was very lucky, if it had landed on me…..well, I was very lucky. Another incident/accident in Tamlife. Have you ever heard of a ceiling fan falling into the bed in the middle of the night? Another lucky escape. Whew. I’m glad none of the fans are directly over the beds…we will be having someone make sure they are secured. The first words I spoke were, “well, I guess I’ll go back to sleep”. Randy said, “of course you will.” In my defense I did go get the broom and started sweeping, but my loving husband said I wasn’t doing it right, so I went back to bed. After all, I was diving this morning, I needed my rest!
We arrived yesterday, and we all headed out for a snorkel late afternoon. We saw an octopus, lots of yellow rays, scorpionfish, crabs and itty bitty baby lobsters. It was raining, and I have never seen so many silverside fishes, they were thick, how many million of them? I don’t know. It is fun to swim with them, though!
We had very nice dives today, we went with We-b-Divin-Cozumel as usual, and it was great to see Yasser (Dive Master), Carlos (Dive Instructor), and Captain Jorge again. We’ve been diving with this group for about 10 years now. Their service is very nice, water, drinks, breakfast fruit and bread, then lunch between dives. If you like to take it easy and enjoy the ride, this is the dive boat for you. If you like to get out there FAST, in a small boat with water and fruit, I recommend Troy’s Pelagic Ventures or Challenge Diving. Our first reef was Palancar, made famous by Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s. Since then, divers have come from all over the world to dive here. Palancar is a huge reef, and it is dived in “sections”, today we did Palancar Bricks. It was Hawksbill turtle day! We saw 3 of them on that dive alone. We also caught sight of a Southern Stingray cruising along with its usual fish followers, waiting for leftovers. On the ascent, I saw a fish go after “food”, then pull away and take off. There was a tiny, tiny floating fireworm in the water, so tiny and fuzzy! Cute, yes, but oh, so toxic! NOT a good snack, and never touch one!
During our surface interval we sat and chatted with the other divers, it is always fun to meet people with the same interest. Then, our second dive was at Tormentos, one of my favorite dives on the island. It never disappoints, and it did not today! Groupers, coneys, crabs, fireworms (huge one!), egg cases, lobsters, eels…the list goes on! Please check out my Dive Encounters page for all the photos from today. The current was not bad at all, but there was a lot of particulate (food?) in the water. The dive was beautiful. I love finding tiny creatures and beautiful fish and…everything down there! Back in the water tomorrow!
Diving. yoga. Beach walks. Diving. Eating. Sleeping. Diving, diving, diving. Stay tuned!