It was a beautiful Friday morning on the island of Cozumel and I was looking for something to do. But, since becoming a resident, I have learned that it is best to ask those who’ve been here a lot longer than me. And, that’s what I did, I asked around, and it was mentioned that Chankanaab Park was quite inexpensive for the locals. All it takes is a residency card, which I now have, for entry without paying too much for my budget. And, that’s just one of the many advantages there are to living here . Yes, it sounded like a good plan and, since it was such a pretty day, I packed a day bag, grabbed a cab and headed to the park, which is located on the southwestern side of the island.
Due to my love of photography, I make these little trips either very early in the morning, or late in the afternoon when the sun is just right. In this case it was the morning light I was after. Arriving by 8:30 I was able to get inside quite early and was immediately drawn to a man dressed in the Mayan garb from the history books standing by the entry. We chatted a bit and, once he saw I was sincerely interested in his way of dress, he put on his “wings” and struck a pose. A good start to the day. Then, after a few shots, we chatted a bit longer and I asked him where he would recommend I should go for photos. He dropped his wings and gave me directions to the botanical gardens. “Just go left, go left,” was his answer and I followed his directions.
Now, Chankanaab Park is known for many things. People come here to snorkel, swim, scuba dive, kayak, dine, swim with dolphins, or just sit on the beach and drink. Me? I like to take pictures in tranquil settings and was, frankly, dubious. But, his recommendation panned out. What a great place to be early in the day. There is a path that winds around through rain forest foliage and it is sprinkled with sculptures, a “home” that is an example of a residence from days past, as well as bridges, flowers and waterfalls surrounded by lush foliage. It was everything one could hope for if you share my love of tranquil settings that seem to transcend time.
The path really did meander and I was glad for the occasional arrow sign that pointed the way. It turned out that I couldn’t go more than twenty feet before I saw something new and photo worthy. And, it was so quiet that it was hard to believe that hundreds, if not more, tourists were somewhere in the vicinity. But, surprisingly, I did not run into another person in my wanderings, which didn’t bother me in the least. A sculpture over here, a turtle over there, a few flowers and, often, a multitude of bamboo plants in between, who wouldn’t be content?
I must have walked for an hour, stopping here and there, before coming to the end of the gardens, but that simply gave me a view of the lagoon that is in the center of Chankanaab. It is a sea fed, turquoise body of water surrounded by palms. Now, there is no swimming allowed, but sitting on the banks under the palm trees is quite nice too, and that’s what I did. However, it was a bit closer to the more populated tourist areas so I just sat for a few minutes before I was off towards the other activities that make this park so popular. I will say, however, that it was with great reluctance that I left.
Next I headed to the beach for a bit of people watching, and there was plenty to see. Guys in snorkel masks, women holding children, the bikini clad (whether they should be, or not), there were all kinds of folks everywhere. Since the cruise ships had docked, many were enjoying the day on Cozumel for the first time. It’s fun to see how much they try and pack in, as far as activities, in a single day. But, who could blame them? There’s lots to do. I just wish more of them thought of sun block. I know the problems that burns can create (I was wearing number 80)…….but, I digress.
Folks were kayaking, swimming, and gearing up for dives. The staff was friendly and helpful and everywhere I looked folks were just enjoying themselves. I decided to sit under a palapa a bit away from the crowd and take in the view. In just a few minutes a waiter came over and I ordered a drink. It was time to relax before the next activity. It really is a nice way to spend a day with plenty of choices.
Finally, it was close to 10:30, which is when the first sea lion event takes place. Now, for those of you kind enough to read my blog, you know that I try and just write, mostly, about pleasant experiences and, typically, keep my outside opinions to myself. That being said, I have to say that I, personally, have a problem with sea creatures being used for entertainment. I don’t wish to open the floor to a debate, I do see that they are being well taken care of, and they bring much joy, but I could only go to the sea lion exhibit out of curiosity. I, personally, didn’t want to participate in the dolphin swim. Now, with that introduction, the sea lion show was quite entertaining, and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves. But, after just a few minutes, I was happy to see that there were other things to do.
With that in mind I’d noticed that there was a Spa on the premises. Since I’d saved so much money getting into the park (can you hear the rationalizations?), I decided a massage would be a good thing. I tend to twist my back into weird positions while practicing my yoga and told myself that it certainly couldn’t hurt. Fortuitously, a young man, by the name of Francisco, approached me on the beach with a “menu” of the types of massages available. As a side note, I was also happy to note that a bit of bartering could be practiced, always a good thing. Once we agreed to which one I wanted, and the price, he escorted me to the spa where there were all the essentials for a relaxing time. It was located on a quiet part of the beach with the jungle behind it and a palapa overhead with sheer curtains for effect. He gave me twenty minutes of a deep massage while I listened to the wildlife and, let me tell you, he was quite good. It was a very relaxing way to end my morning at the park.
It was getting a bit late for me to be out in the sun so I headed towards the entrance and the next taxi. Walking past the folks just arriving I knew that I’d timed it well. I stopped for a pic of an archway and, finally, put away my camera. What a nice experience. I like my mornings quiet and I had the ability to do just that even in one of the most popular parks on the island. Who knew? Thanks for coming along…………Salud!