It has been a week since we returned to Kansas City and the time seems right to conclude the experience with some reflections.
First of all, it was not a “typical” trip for us. Since retirement 5 years ago the majority of our trips have been 4-6 weeks long, a few as long as 12 weeks, but none that I recall of just one week. VSecondly, we prefer to be “on the move” rather than stationary as we were in Cozumel.
Finally, we aren’t usually “beach people”, but find that the mountains and interior spaces are more to our liking. What was typical for us is the search for the unusual. We certainly found this over the course of our week on the island.
Ventanas al Mar, loosely described as our resort, was an exceptional experience but not for everyone. It is located 12 miles from town and is the only hotel on the east side of the island. There is virtually nothing but beach and waves washing the shore for miles to the north and south.
Electricity was furnished by a generator. The occasional flicker and “lights out” never lasted longer than a few seconds but gave a slight insecurity about continued reliability.
At most there were 40 guests which is near capacity for this small hotel. The staff of 4-6 was attentive and very friendly. They also cautioned us that the tap water was untreated and not fit for human consumption.
Our room was basic and pleasant. Glass doors opened to a sandy area above a cliff overlook.
This is the first place in Mexico that the morning sun illuminates.
The sound of the surf was constant and loud like a pulsing rocket engine. After 3 nights the roar was no longer a novelty and we began closing the glass doors at night. This had the unfortunate effect of denying us the pleasant breeze that made the night humidity more bearable. The hotel’s air conditioning system is turned off during this time of the year.
Breakfast (included in the price of the stay) was a pleasant fruit forward affair that included eggs and house made tortillas. Dinner was optional and we took advantage of it 5 of the 7 nights.
Our room cost $144.00 (US) a night. The dinners and drinks added another $450.00 to the cost of the week. Not unreasonable, but then hardly “cheap”.
The night before our return to the States was Valentine’s Day. The staff went out of their way to create a magical dinner experience with an excellent meal served under holiday lights, poolside, to the sound of a local music talent. We will remember that evening as the highlight of our stay in Cozumel.
The occasions that we dined in town were pleasant. One evening we enjoyed fine dining at a steak restaurant located at the farthest edge of the tourist area.
On another occasion the sought out a “locals’ favorite”. I doubt that it will ever make it on the list of cruise ship recommendations, but the mountain of roasted meats was astounding, excellent, and served at an incredible price. About $12.00 total for the two of us, beer included.
In an earlier post I chronicled the saga of our rental VW “Bug”.
There was a second rental car: A trusted local became aware of our experience and offered to secure a rental car for us for the last 3 days of our stay. He called a friend in the local car rental business. As intermediary using his cell phone he passed my questions on the friend and responded to me with the answers… “Is it a good car?”, “Si!”, “Do you take credit cards?, “Si!”, “Does the price include ALL insurance, taxes, and costs?”, again “Si!”.
The agreed price was 800 Pesos a day. For an additional 200 Pesos (cash) he would deliver the car to us at the hotel. Cool!
He arrived at the agreed time with the car, tailed by a young man on a scooter who would drive him back to town. From there things became a bit annoying and unsettling He wore a shirt with a rental car company insignia, different from the company name emblazoned on the side of the car. The paperwork bore the name and contact information for yet a third company. “That will be 2,400 Pesos, cash, plus 900 Pesos for insurance” said he as I immediately protested the price increase and change in the required method of payment. We finally settled on the 1,100 Pesos a day and agreed that I would pay for the rental in cash but at the time the car was returned. He did take an impression of my credit card “For security”.
But for a few dents and scrapes the car looked ok, certainly a huge improvement over the “Bug”. The rental worked out fine, but again there was an overriding sense of “What if…” that lingered until the car was returned. Incidentally, the return was not at a rental office but at the side of the road near the airport where we were instructed to wait for him. He would arrive by motor scooter piloted by his young friend. So much could have gone bad, but it ended well.
As a cruise destination Cozumel, like so many others, is packed with high end jewelry, perfume, and liquor stores. For each one of those there are another 25 souvenir and tee-shirt shops.
It seems that every local there is engaged in the art of separating tourists from their money. I quickly wearied of it and found little to recommend in the tourist district except for passible eating, a cold beer, and the occasional interesting street performance.
Mexicans that we encountered outside of that district, most notably Pedro at the San Gervasio Maya Ruins, were pleasant, kind, and helpful.
The traffic was brutal and unpredictable. There were motor scooters everywhere, often with as many as 4 people on board. Toddlers hung over the handlebars like hood ornaments.
We once saw a family of 5 traveling on a single scooter. toddler hanging on between dad and the handlebars, a young boy sandwiched between dad and mom, with an infant strapped to mom’s back.
Will we do it again? Possibly, but not the same way. I think that for a 1 week trip we would arrange 4 of the nights in a high-end “all inclusive” mainland resort and the remaining 3 would be on the island at Ventanas. I also think that we would explore the possibility of working in extra days for a side trip to one of the monumental Maya archaeological sites. For now we have our travel sights set on other destinations.
Later this year we plan a two month trip with our camper to Labrador and Newfoundland Canada which is the easternmost point of mainland North America.
I will probably work in a solo trip or two, and overshadowing everything will be the construction of our vacation home about 25 minutes south of Breckenridge Colorado.
Until later… Peace Everyone. Pete