Thursday, February 09, 2006

If it’s Wednesday, it must be Cozumel

Hurricane damage is still evident everywhere in Cozumel. If the frenzied construction activity (in a relative sense, remember this is not the United States or Canada) keeps up, things will be back to normal pretty quickly. The Mexicans are trying very hard to keep tourists happy and, as far as I could tell, are achieving that end. We went on a snorkelling excursion, had a hot Mexican lunch served up to us on the beach and generally had a good time.

When we were dropped off back at the pier, my wife and son elected to take a ‘tender’ back to the ship while I stayed in San Miguel, the only town on the island, to explore. I wandered the streets for about an hour. The streets are safe and the people pleasant. I stopped in one store and tried on a leather cowboy hat. It fit perfectly and I asked the clerk how much it was. $89.00, I was told. I gave him what my wife has termed ‘the Pedde look,’ and turned to leave. “How much do you want to pay,” the man asked. Not $89.00, that‘s for sure. I had seen the exact same hat in another store and had settled on a $38.00 price, only to discover I didn’t have that much cash on me and that the store didn’t accept credit cards.

The clerk followed me towards the exit. “How about $40.00, then?” We finally settled on $35.00. Now I will have a cool hat to wear when I go riding on my brother’s farm.

Outside of San Miguel, Cozumel is flat and featureless. The island ‘jungle’ consists of vegetation probably no more than six feet high. Some areas have shallow, brackish water where, according to our guide, an occasional crocodile is seen. There are also white-tailed deer and a variety of snakes and birds. Sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches and during the appropriate season government employees gather them to incubate in a safer place. The hatchlings are released back to sea, apparently 75,000 of them last year. That sounds like a lot to me, but remember that the little critters are quite defenceless and many become food for larger predators. Relatively few will survive and mature.

Notwithstanding the current illegal immigrant problem in the United States because of its porous border with Mexico, I find Mexicans to be a warm and friendly people. Just like the rest of us, all they want to do is get by and be able to pay the bills.

Next stop, Key West.

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