After ten months of living on the island of Cozumel, I finally did what so many come here to do. I went snorkeling. It was a day of laughs, a few mishaps, and a bit too much sun, but it was so much fun that I just had to write about the experience. It all started a couple of weeks ago when a few friends thought it might be a nice idea to rent a boat together and hit the water. Joey and Maria created the event on Facebook, sent out the invitations, and then all we had to do was wait for the day to arrive. Oh, and this might also be the time to mention that I find it amusing that folks who live on a tropical island often confirm plans via satellites and social media sites. But, that’s a topic for another day.
We met at the Blue Angel Resort, which is located on Melgar just south of town. It’s a pretty hotel right on the ocean with all the amenities including a dive shop on the premises. Since a few of us had decided to meet early to have some breakfast in their outdoor restaurant, we ate while looking out at the ocean with palm trees framing the deck. It was certainly not a bad way to start a day. Our waiter was friendly, the coffee was great and the conversation just flowed. The time flew by and, after about an hour, we needed to head out to the dock and meet up with the rest of our friends. But, not before a pleasant surprise. It turned out that a member of our little group had chosen the right football team the night before and, as a celebratory gesture, bought us all breakfast. Just when you think it can’t get any better, yes?
The name of our boat was The Albatross II. It wasn’t large, but it looked to be in good shape, had plenty of seating, and a canopy roof. The captain greeted us on the dock and he and his first mate helped us with our bags and equipment. Since I haven’t yet purchased any snorkeling gear, I was happy to know that they were well stocked with masks, snorkels, and fins. Once we’d boarded, Rita, the owner, stood on the dock and explained the details of the trip. When she was finished she waved a hearty goodbye and off we went.
As you can tell from the picture on your left, it was a beautiful day. The water was that shade of aquamarine that takes your breath away and the sky was a cobalt blue. There were smiles all around while the captain turned the boat and headed towards our first destination. That was when Sarah, the first mate, opened a small door that hid a surprise. Out came a tiny poodle who immediately greeted us all. Apparently she belongs to the captain and is always with him. I could understand why, she is quite the seaworthy companion. What a little charmer. I do have to mention a moment, however, that some might find amusing. I was sitting alone on the center cushion seat and, while gazing out at the sea, suddenly felt part of a body sit down just behind me. I immediately reached around and, without looking, did a scrunchy little movement with my hand that I do to my dogs. It only took a moment to realize, however, that there was no fur where I was petting. It wasn’t the dog, it was the first mate. I whipped my head around, apologized with a red face, but she just smiled and shrugged her shoulders. I guess she’s seen it all and she wasn’t fazed a bit. But, in my case, that was not to be my last “moment.” I’ll get to the others in a bit.
We had arrived at our first location and everyone started to put on their gear. Some of the group members are quite experienced divers and snorkelers and it didn’t take them long to hit the water. Wanting to take some pictures of folks getting wet, I figured I’d just get ready and go in the water a few minutes after everyone else. It seemed like a good plan at the time. I got my shots, put away my camera, put on my fins, and then struggled with my mask and snorkel until it was obvious I needed some help. Sarah, bless her heart, was quite patient with my fumbling, newbie ways and helped me out. Then over the side I went.
Now, it was a bit choppy, but that wasn’t what caused me problems; it was my inexperience. Instead of immediately heading over to where the others were, I spotted a colorful fish that I just had to follow. Next thing I know I’m quite a distance from the boat. I started to swim towards it, and was able to see that the captain was facing my direction, but that boat sure looked a long way off. I swam a bit, but the boat was still too far. I swam a bit more, but it was still too far. This went on until I realized that I wasn’t having any fun anymore (I was just beginning to panic). So, I went vertical, called out, waved my hand and watched as the captain turned the boat to come and pick me up. And, while treading water, my mind was busily yelling at me about the buddy system. Let me tell you, that lesson can now be considered learned.
But, apparently there was one more lesson left and that is to have swimwear that fits. I’d lost a few pounds and my bathing suit was a bit loose. You can probably see where this is going. Once the boat reached me, a friend held out a hand to help me up the ladder. Still just a bit shaky, I began to climb and that was when I flashed him, but it certainly wasn’t intentional. Yea, it was time to just sit down in the shade, drink some coke, and take in a few breaths. Meanwhile, most of the others were still floating lazily on top of the water, or diving down to take some closer looks at something, or other. All that did for me was make me determined to learn what I needed to know. And, to be grateful that I had a sense of humor since my day was turning out to be a comedy of errors. Oh, and this is where I’ll insert some nice pictures of some of the couples that came along. Gratefully no-one had a camera during my special moments. Or, if they did they aren’t talking.
Once everyone was back on board we just rolled lazily with the waves and enjoyed some snacks. Then off we went to our next destination, el cielo (heaven). It’s a shallow area that’s dotted with some amazing starfish, the occasional seashell rolling with the current, and these tiny fish that would dive under the sand and didn’t ever seem to come back up. We’d wait and watch for them, but they refused to pop back out. At this place the current was lazy and the water was warm. Having learned my lesson I stuck with two people who know the ropes and I was able to completely relax in the surroundings. After lazily floating with the current for quite a while I headed back to the boat and managed to get up the ladder without any further mishaps.
Now, this little excursion had taken about four hours altogether and I won’t speak for anyone else, but I was ready for a siesta. I don’t know what it is about the combination of sun and sea, but it always guarantees a good nap once I get home. The captain started back to the Blue Angel and we all just enjoyed looking at the resorts as they flew by. Conversation had slowed to that comfortable stage where we’d just catch someone’s eye and smile. Finally, I grabbed my camera again and started taking pics of what appeared to be some very satisfied customers.
Once we got back to the Blue Angel and unloaded our stuff, I asked the group to gather for that final shot that seems to be a requirement after such events. But, this time the captain asked someone else to use my camera so that I could be in the picture as well. What the heck, silly hat and all, I agreed. Now you may not know any of us, but you can probably tell by the looks on our faces that it was, all in all, a very good day. My only regret? Writing a piece about snorkeling without any photos of the amazing underwater scenery. But, I can say this without hesitation. The next time I go snorkeling I will have a case for my camera and a bathing suit that fits. I will also look before I pet and swim with a buddy. It was an educational day in amazing surroundings. Yes, it’s good to live in paradise. Salud!
p.s. I am never compensated for these little bits, that helps to keep me honest, but I do like to share good experiences! Also, a big thank you to Joey and Maria for a great idea and a wonderful day!