Cozumel: a guide and a goodbye………

DSCF6306Well,  this is my 112th blog about what it’s like to live on the island of Cozumel.  I’ve covered everything from charities to beach clubs, ruins to coffee houses, safety tips, illnesses, and holiday events. Sandwiched in between those you’ll also find a few posts that are simply about life as an expat.  Some of those moments are humorous, some, well, not so much.  So, at this point it seems  to be a good time for this expat to move on to other writings for a while.  But, for reference purposes, I thought I’d list a few of the various activities I’ve had the privilege to participate in over the past two years, as well as include a few of my favorite pics.   If you want to know more about a specific location, or topic, on that list (and would like to see the related photos), simply type the name in the search bar on the top of this page and you will be taken to that blog.  Simple, yes?  And, finally,  before I go I want to take this time to thank all of you for your support.  Your often enthusiastic responses have been greatly appreciated and you’ve made my “job” fun.   So, with that said,  here’s to the very special island of Cozumel, Salud!

 

Historical and Environmentalflower1

  • Chankanaab
  • San Gervasio
  • Punta Sur
  • El Cedral

Beach Clubs/Hotels

  • Buccanos
  • Barracuda
  • Blue Angel
  • Hotel B
  • Paradise Beach Club
  • The Money Bar
  • Sunset Bar and Grill
  • The Caribbean Sunset

Nightlife/Barsbench

  • Wet Wendy’s
  • Woody’s Bar and Grill
  • El Volado
  • The Thirsty Cougar
  • Zocalas
  • Kelly’s Pub

Holidays/Festivities

  • Christmas in the Park
  • Fourth of July
  • Carnaval17
  • El Cedral
  • Day of the Dead
  • Thanksgiving
  • Good Friday/Passion Play

Charities

  • The Chrysalis Group
  • It’s All About the Kids
  • La Esperanza
  • The Horse Sanctuary

Coffee Houses/Restaurants

  • El Cafe
  • Starbucks
  • Bisbees
  • Rock n Java
  • Cha Cha’s Kitchen
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Neighborhood Lodgings

  • The Coral Reef Inn
  • Villa Zaztun
  • Alicia’s Bed and Breakfast

Local Artists and Openings

  • Mariano Petit de Murat
  • Sarah Williams Pritchett

Local Craftsmen/Home Improvement/Computer Repair

  • Carpenter Chris
  • Cozumel Home Improvement
  • Edgar Ch L (computers)

Exercise

  • Tammy Cervantes’ Yogayoga 1
  • Ego

Shopping

  • Mercado
  • Malecon

Illnesses and Doctor’s Care/Costs

  • Dengue
  • Parasites
  • Shingles

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Cozumel’s Passion Play

It’s Semana Santa (Easter week) here on the island of Cozumel.  And, with Mexico having one of the world’s largest Catholic populations, it is quite a sight to behold.  Between the crowds of tourists (I hear we have 90% occupancy) and the crowds of the faithful, let’s just say that it’s a good idea to give yourself some extra time before going anywhere.  But, in this case, I consider myself quite fortunate since I live directly across the street from a large Catholic church in the so-called Corpus Christi neighborhood.  That gives me the extra benefit of easily walking over to photograph one of the local customs, the Passion Play.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the Passion Play is a reenactment of the  trials and suffering that Jesus endured just prior to the crucifixion.  Now, this is not to be confused with “The Passion Play,” which, up north, is also a dramatic interpretation of the same events, but that play uses professional actors.  Our little production consists solely of devout parishioners dressed in homemade clothing to depict the historical time period.  These folks may indeed share the passion, but little to no formal training is either expected, or required, which leads to a sense of reality that I, personally, enjoy.  Picture this: altar boys, dressed in white and carrying candle, are then followed by Christ, joined by the two men who were crucified along with him, and all are led down the road by Roman guards while Mary and the devout walk behind.  The guards soon stop, flog him, and force him to wear a crown of thorns and carry a wooden cross.  Today this procession was also followed by well over a hundred local folks and a pickup truck with loud speakers that played somber music.  It really is quite an event to see.

Now, without me rambling on any further, I think I’ll just let my photos tell the rest of the story.  I’ll start with a few faces in the crowd, work up to the nervous antics of the participants just prior to the event, and will end with the Christ, himself.  I hope you enjoy and let me also take a moment to wish all of you a meaningful, and peaceful, weekend.  Salud!

 

 

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More of what’s new: My day at the Caribbean Sunset

caribbean sunsetCozumel has so much going on that it can be difficult to choose, especially when so many great new places are springing up.  Yesterday I spent a day at one of those new hangouts, the Caribbean Sunset.  A wonderful little restaurant and bar that is just north of el centro on Melgar.  In fact, when looking for it, all you have to keep an eye out for is the first palapa on your left as you leave the downtown area behind.  For convenience, there is a little turn around just past it.  And, yes, it’s right on the ocean with  all the beauty one would expect from the Caribbean.   But, don’t just take my word for it, I’ll include some pics too.

best viewThe Caribbean Sunset has only been open for about five weekssunset side now.  With two floors, if you include the shaded, and sandy, beach area with tables and chairs, it’s a great place for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Now, I’ve not had their dinner yet, but their breakfasts are great and reasonably priced, including a discount for the locals.  Oh, and if you get breakfast, let me recommend the hash browns.  Real potatoes with chunks of onion along with lots of spices that were the best I’ve had in a long time!

The owners, Stephane and Odessa, are a lovely young couple.  You can see them in the pic on yogayour right, and they are pulling out all the stops to make their location a “must see” place to sunset ownersgo.  There is yoga in the mornings at 7:30, (separated from the breakfast crowd by curtains that wave in the breeze) and on Wednesdays there is a recovery based meeting at 9:00 (which we have over breakfast) that is then paired with a special yoga class to help get rid of the “issues in our tissues.”  I participate in that, and I’ve been amazed at how much stress my body will hold on to until it is released in that class.

But, yoga is not all, not by a long shot.  Starting this Sunday, the 30th of March, there will be live music at 1:30, yoga class endingthen again in the late afternoon, and then once again at night.  In fact, they are planning to showcase live bands throughout the day Wednesday through Sunday!  A great way to get to hear local musicians while dining casually looking out over the ocean.  Not a bad combination, yes?

pelican standingIf snorkeling is your thing, they have that too.  But, since I spent yesterday scouting it out, let me recommend you enter the water that reaches out directly in front of the staircase that leads up to the street.  It is quite easy there, but it can get tricky elsewhere.  Lots of little rocks and coral to check out once in the water though,army training which made the search worthwhile.  Oh, and they have modern facilities too, which are roomy enough to change in and out of your bathing suit.  And, while snorkeling, you just might find yourself alongside the young military guys who are getting accustomed to swimming in their fatigues.  There is an army base quite close and you can either watch their drills from your table, early in the day, or do what I did and swim alongside.  Let me tell you, I was so glad to have on just a bathing suit, they looked a little out of breath in their boots, fatigues, and hats, although I’m not all that sure why they had to have their hats too.  Just a thought.  Now, I’m not certain that they do that every day, but I have seen them the past two Wednesday mornings, so, if that’s something you’d enjoy checking out, that’s the day to do it.

But, for those of you who just want to relax, maybe play on your computer (they have free wi fi),watch the cruise ships come in, the pelicans more seating at the sunsetfeeding, or the occasional plane bringing in the next group of pelican and shadowexcited tourists, you can do all that too.  If you come in the afternoon, or evening, they also have a fully stocked bar where you can sip a margarita, or two, while watching the sunset and listening to the band.  Now, although I usually get those pics, I was already a bit tired after my morning mexican army trainingyoga and early afternoon snorkeling, so I didn’t get those shots, but the location is just far enough from el centro that you can enjoy the sunset without staring at the ferry dock, or a bunch of tethered boats, which, to me, is always a plus.  In other words, it’s a clear shot of the ocean all the way to Playa del Carmen, with maybe a yacht, or two, drifting by.

hostess at the sunsetYes, this expat would like to say, it was a great little place to spendtammy with coffee my morning and I’m going to make a point of going back to check out the bands.  It’s always nice to find a new favorite, especially when it comes with friendly people, good food, local music, and a spectacular view.  With choices like this, Cozumel really is paradise, don’t you agree?  Salud!

p.s. if you would like to know more such as: bands playing, dinner specials, or yoga times, just contact Stephane (for English) at 987 118 4100, or Odessa (for Spanish) at 987 126 0382……….and, I never receive compensation, nor do I write these at the request of friends, or businesses, I just like to share good experiences.  Following those simple rules helps to keep me honest!

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my sanctuary

As an expat living on the island of Cozumel I had quickly learned that, in spite of all the activities we have to offer, sometimes it’s just nice to take it easy at home.  So, about two years ago, as a woman on a budget, I rented a small apartment in a great location with a lot of potential.  My landlord is quite accommodating so he’s allowed me to paint and decorate the interior to my preference.  But, then I focused on the reason I rented it in the first place.  It has a huge ‘L’ shaped deck out front (and another smaller one in the back), which is good since I have four dogs, but it needed something.  It was long, white, and hot even though it has a nice little overhang in the center.  So, decision was made, plain and hot had to go.  I gave it a lot of thought, but almost immediately realized that the changes I envisioned would take some time due to said budget.  I love animals, plants, and tropical colors, and scratched my head for a while to figure out how to put it all together.  But, now (with the exception of the deck floor) it’s complete, thanks to muralist Mariano Petit de Murat, a wood craftsman who is known as “Carpenter Chris” (and his assistant), lounge furniture from Mega, and plants from the local landscape shops.  If you like what you see, and the work Mariano and Chris have done, I’ll put their contact info at the bottom of this piece.  Otherwise, this will be yet another photo blog that will show you how it all turned out from start to finish, including a towel covered couch for the dogs (yes, they’re spoiled).  It took two years, but I’m a happy woman with a pretty little sanctuary.  I also included some pics of my first guests, Dan, who came in on a cruise ship yesterday (carrying Miracle Whip and Butterfingers, huge thanks) and Jean, a lovely woman I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with lately, she’s been a great friend.  I hope you enjoy, salud!1

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p.s. the muralist and graphic designer, Mariano Petit de Murat, can be found on Facebook under his name, if you’d like to contact him for work just send him a message on his FB site…………..Carpenter Chris can be found on ave 10, across from a lavenderia with a blue sign, just turn onto ten from 11 sur, go past the graveyard and look for the blue lavenderia sign on the right and he is directly across the street……..they are both so nice, very talented and quite reasonable!

An eastside perspective

beach entranceThere is so much beauty on the island of Cozumel that words often aren’t enough.  Thankfully, I take a lot of photos.  We’ve had some lovely weather this past week and I’ve had the opportunity to go to the eastside, twice.  That’s where the beaches stretch for miles, the waves crash to shore, and there are enough little beach clubs that assure you won’t go hungry, but spaced far enough apart you can just enjoy the sound of the surf if you choose.  With that said, I’ve decided to make this piece a photo blog. I’ve included some pics of the scenery, the folks, the activities and, hopefully, captured some of the ambiance found on the “other side” of Cozumel.  Like I said, words often aren’t enough, but maybe these pics can help.  I hope you enjoy, Salud!ocean and rockscrazyguyswithsailswoodbeach sleepercoupletourist traplyndalynda on beach by woodmoped girlbetterflowerwater through woodguitar manbeach tent

Going to the jungle

plantsWell, as I’d written several posts back, living in paradise, on the island of Cozumel, can have its ups and downs.  Several weeks past I’d hadlightleaves one of those “down” times, but, as always happens here, many members of our community stepped in to help.  It’s what we do here.  Here’s a quick example, when I’d needed an interpreter, my friend (and landlady) stepped up.  When she had her surgery, I helped her with her daily chores.  Of course, that’s just one example, but I’ve also been on the receiving end of assistance through dengue and a couple of other tropical experiences, but was able to help a couple clean their home after a flooding and watch another friend’s children.  It’s a nice feeling to know that folks care and help is so easily passed around.  Just one of the many reasons that living on the island of Cozumel can be such a great experience.  But, back to my story.

flowerandsilverAfter a rather unpleasant event I’d experienced not too long ago, I received words of encouragement, a flood of emails, folks casually stopping by, one group of very determined women who showed up at my eyeofgoddoorstep with some ideas, and another friend who offered her home in the jungle to just kick back and relax.  I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, and then show some pretty pictures of where I was able to go where it all just came together.

My friend, Moya, and her family, invited me out to their home in the area of the jungle called Las Fincas.  The home is lush, quiet, and a photographer’s dream.  Both Moya and her husband, Sergio, design and hammockbuild houses plus Moya is quite the interior decorator as well, so words alone wouldn’t do their home justice.  As a result, they’ve been kind enough to allow me to post some pics that I took with my new camera.  I think those will help you to understand my point, which is, nature, and friendships, heal all things.  And let me tell you, they have a lot of nature and are truly good friends.

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neighbors2When you first arrive you drive past some homes of other local residents.  They are quite different from bougenvillaewhere I stayed, but they are surrounded by the same beauty.  Tropical foliage of every kind imaginable, bursts of colors from the Bougainvillea, Birds of Paradise, Morning Glories,  a personal favorite, and a whole lot of flowers that will remain nameless, solely because I have no idea what they’d be called in either language.  After going past some of the neighbors we turned into a long driveway, drove past multiple areas with some completely natural and others nicely landscaped.  There are chickens, horses, and a couple of dogs that are very protective of their family.  But, after a few treats and the tossing of some sticks and coconuts, we got to be good friends.

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a2I was able to spend the next four days just relaxing, reflecting, taking photos, talking with Moya, and even had the theboyfriendopportunity for a couple of mini photo shoots.  One with her daughter, Aisha, which was just spur of the moment.  That lovely face you see on the left has no makeup, was not prepped, nor was photoshop necessary.  And, before I get any questions, yes, she has a boyfriend.

I had another shoot with a group of horse racing enthusiasts who are getting their horse, la Fercha, ready for a race to horsedesignbe held here on the 16th of March.  They board la Fercha and her mother at the stables on the grounds.  A great group of guys who just love the sport, and the horses.  I’ll just post one of la Fercha here since I’m hoping to go to the race itself and will put the rest altogether in that blog.

It didn’t hurt that Moya is a good cook either.  And, to top it all off, she is a night person and I’m a morning girl, so we didn’t bump into each other except for the middle of the day when we would have pleasant chats and drink tea, which was, I was assured, the real thing since Moya’s country of origin is England.  Since I’m a complete coffee addict it took her a few days to convince me, but it was delicious.

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buddhainsideMy last night there a mutual friend, Tammy, came out to visit and the three of us went up to the roof where there is a flower1large cement tub that Moya had filled with hot water and surrounded by candles. Friends just talking with the sounds of the jungle around us and the stars overhead.  Now, I ask you, can it possibly get any better than that?  After five days and four nights I felt like a new woman, or at least an improved version of the old one.  My mind was calmed and I could not only see the light at the end of the tunnel, it was bright.

So, thanks to friends, life is good again.  I still have to pay my bills, go to doctors, and pick up dog poo, but I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else.  Cozumel is my home.  Salud!

IMG_0421p.s. a special thank you to: Moya, Sergio, Aisha, Lesli, Don Pedro, Donna, Sandra, Jean, Leonna, Jerry, Tammy, Richard, Carol, Myrna, Nelda, Larry, Rick, Tracey, Paula, Valli, Karen, Deborah, Luh, Maria, Joey, Mike, Joyce, Monica, Lynda Lee, Christi, Kathy, Kandy, Corki, Laura, Amethyst, Mary, Zazzu, Mariano, Sarahi, Roberto, and Edgar. A special loving thank you to Melinda, my oldest friend who has had the patience of a saint to hang in there, for 52 years, with the poster child of Murphy’s Law, wow!  I guess it really does take a village sometimes, but what an example of the kinds of folks who’ve chosen Cozumel as their home, yes?

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sunsetting at the money bar

mb2Okay, so I’ve not quite been myself lately.  Suffered some losses, which I handled badly.  Found myself a bit frustrated with a few of the local customs, which is something I need to get over, it is Mexico after all.  So this expat decided to do mb1something I almost never do, went to a well-known restaurant/bar/beach club to do a little dancing, take a few photos and, basically, try and get out of the rut I’ve been in.  And, I’m happy to say that it worked, for a while anyway.  Let me tell you what happened.

mb8I went to the world-famous Money Bar, which is located 1.5 miles south from Puerta Maya (the main cruise ship dock).  The poor taxi driver was really trying to beat the clock for me since I was hoping to get a few pics of the sunset.  I’d was originally hoping to go with a friend, but some things fell through at the last moment, so a cab was my only option.  But, to his credit, and without disobeying too many speeding laws, he got me there just in time.

mbsunsetFirst thing I did was head to the restaurant terrace for that sunset shot.  Lined up with about half a dozen others, we clicked away until there was nothing left.  Then I began to focus on the folks there and there were a lot.  Eating, drinking, many wearing those balloon hats that are always mb5fun to see.  And all were waiting for the band to set up.  While they were doing that I took the opportunity to walk around to different tables and ask if I could take their pictures.  Once again, no-one said, “no.” But, here is where I’ll apologize for showing mb4so few, it was hard to choose since everyone was clearly in their best vacation spirits so there were smiles all around.  And I must have taken a hundred shots.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to show them all, but I think you’ll get the idea of the festivities.

The band was quite good and folks were immediately up and dancing.  A little reggae,mb3 a bit of rock, it was a nice eclectic mix and it attracted folks of all ages.  And, I’m not kidding.  There was a little girl about 6 or 7 and a woman who must have been close to 80 and she had as much energy as the little girl.  It was a lot of fun to watch.

mb7And, speaking of eclectic, what a mix of folks.  All ages,mb15 ethnicities, couples, singles, groups large and small.  There were the surfers, the business men, the young (newly in love) couples, a clown who was making the balloon hats, hippies, dive masters, you name the type and they were there.

mb10While the band took a break there was a group of young local boys called the “Crazy Breakers.”  And I really hope I have their name correct, someone please mb11let me know if I don’t.  Talented guys who flipped, stood on one hand, did circles on the floor and, basically, demonstrated that gravity has no effect on them.  They put on quite the show and for tips only.  I really hope people dug deep, they were that good.

mb12mb6After that I ran into a few people I know and we talked a bit.  I actually let someone take a picture of me with Paco, a very interesting local personality.  Yea, that’s us on the right.  I took some more pics of my friends, and then it really was time for me to get home.  I’d given up my night owl ways over a year ago, and hope to get back with my usual program soon.  But, in the meanwhile, it was a great way to forget about any and all issues, at least for the evening.

Before I end this though, I want to mention that the service staff was gracious, themb13 mb9customers were fun, the music was great, and the break dancing was impressive.  Not bad for a single night on the island of Cozumel.  If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it.  Oh, and they have great snorkeling in the daytime, and hammocks where you can just rock away your problems.  In fact, the next time I go, I think that is exactly what I will do.  Just lay in a hammock and stare at the sea.  Somehow all seems to get better when I do that.  Salud!

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p.s. I never receive compensation, and I don’t intend to promote, I just like sharing good experiences!

 

 

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