Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Riviera Maya - Last of Photos

Our 'celebrate retirement / birthday / 29th anniversary' at Riviera Maya was at an all-inclusive resort for one week. We figured a couple of excursions would be a good break but not make it too hectic or expensive.

The first trip we took was by ferry to the island of Cozumel. I wore a patch and bracelets and they assured me the ferry was huge and would not be a problem. They lied. But I survived. Having a history of motion sickness it has to be somewhere really spectacular to abide the ride. Cozumel was worth feeling like dirt for 45 minutes each way.

The island of Cozumel sits right across the bay from Cancun, has grown like crazy in the last five years and now has 90,000 full time residents who live in the upper 1/3 of the island. The middle 1/3 is all mangrove forests and they provide a break from the hurricanes that tend to hit here. The bottom 1/3 has no homes or hotels, but does allow day trips to enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, beach combing, etc.

We took an open-air ride with a narrator that lasted all day. Our first stop was to see some Mayan ruins then we pulled off the road, to check out the lagoon, across from the beach.

One very large male and two female crocodiles lived there, and sure enough - when the narrator whistled they came close. The male was over 10 feet long, and the females pretty close to that too. The creepiest part was that when they went underwater even a few inches you could not see them at all for the color of the water.

Here you can see the lagoon on the left and the beach on the right. The most beautiful white sand beaches and look at the color of the water! It looks like my grandson, Grayson's eyes. The water was too rough that day for snorkeling - they told us it was only 30% visibility but we were still able to walk the beach, have lunch in some hut they set up, and I was able to grab a gorgeous pink conch shell out of the waves that came up on the beach. After being unsuccessful I watched a woman whose arms were full of shells. She put her back to the water, stood with her eyes peeled for the surf coming in, and once she saw a shell wash up she'd reach down and grab it before it washed back out to sea. That pretty pink shell is sitting on the ledge of my tub.
Here Don's sporting his birthday gift - I was able to hurry into the hotel lobby shop and grab this straw cowboy hat that he'd had his eye on. $29 american money and he loved it. The narrator and his helper sang Happy Birthday in Spanish, and the entire bus sang it in English - so a pretty fun birthday overall. Don got so tanned on this trip natives were asking him if he was from Cuba. Nobody asked if I was a native.

The narrator told us the water was about 50 feet right where we would have snorkeled, then it went into a black hole - bottomless. Nobody had gone down far enough to find bottom. Isn't the ocean just amazing?

Back in the town of Cozumel we were given an hour to shop and browse, finding fun items for our grandkids' Easter baskets. Mexico is such a colorful place - bright splashes of color anywhere they can put it. It was fun to watch shoppers deal with the sidewalk hawkers, striking a bargain. They love to bargain with you. If you say no to their price they tend to come after you with another offer.

We came across this group of young girls, skirts swirling as they did the Mexican Hat dance.

The other excursion we went on was a bit crazy. We asked our hotel concierge about a 'romantic lobster dinner cruise' and they immediately yelled, 'Captain Hook!'. We ended up going on a five hour ride of figure eights around the lagoon while everyone drank tequila, did salsa dancing and we did indeed have a lobster dinner below deck.

Posing with the skeleton heads before we boarded.
Not sure where we'd put this if we framed it. Doesn't it look like we're at tribal council on Survivor? Where's Jeff Probst?

Once dinner was over another boat, much like ours, pulled close and started firing on us with cannon sounds and big puffs of smoke. Pirates started swinging through the air, landing onboard where our Captain - Jack Sparrow - had a big sword fight with their captain - Captain Hook. Our grandkids would have loved this part of the trip. Not so much the three hours of very loud salsa music and tequila and complete strangers grinding into each other. We were ready to get off once we pulled up to land, but overall it was fun. Headache inducing but fun.

Our hotel was one of five Iberostar's - all grouped together within security gates so we could feel comfortable walking the grounds. At the end of the resort, near the golf course, was a shopping center with lots of shops and restaurants. They also had this gorgeous carousel for the kids to enjoy and at night it was lovely. The center courtyard had a mexican version of a jazz band playing, and we sat and enjoyed that for awhile. That horse in the background is completely made of blocks of wood - it was beautiful up close.
Our final night - we chose the mexican restaurant (they had mediterranean, japanese, italian and steak too). You could buy the hats but we chose to just pose for one photo with them. Mariachi singers serenaded us during dinner - the perfect touch to end the evening.

Early morning - time to get up and head home. One last glimpse of palm trees silhouetted in the rising sun. Fabulous, fabulous trip - we'll be back for sure.


Susan said...

Glad you are having such a grand and wonderful time of celebration. Our oldest daughter & her husband have been to Cormel several times but we never have. Being born and raised in Santa Fe I love the Mexican flare, colors and dances, and jewelry!!!!

Judith said...

Another grand tour. Wouldn't like being so close to those crocks, or the skulls (Were the skulls real?) but could search for shells all day long. Interesting, how the lady learned to get them. My favorite pic was the lagoon and the ocean so close together, and of course, that last shot, inviting your return.

Becky said...

So how DO you tell a male corcodile from a female crocodile? I mean, besides asking them.

What a wonderful vacation. Just the thing to do at the end of 30 plus years of work, and a nasty Pennsylvania winter.

Next stop ... Texas!!

Kelly said...

Looks fabulous and like the perfect retirement / birthday / anniversary trip:-)

Hope all is going well as you prepare for Texas.