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Old 04-22-2009, 04:58 PM   #226
nenner1
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Hello, just to let you know we're still here - and waiting patiently
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so am I...
And he (livingis2me) knows how the story ends!

I'm taking the computer with me tonight! The next few installments are going to be fun!

Won't be long!
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Old 04-23-2009, 12:49 AM   #227
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Hi Jen! I'm back and enjoyed finding your update! I love the "glow baby"
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Old 04-23-2009, 10:42 AM   #228
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Hi! I've spent alot more time than I should have this morning enjoying your trip report! Looks like you had a great time! Can't wait to hear more!
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:18 PM   #229
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Mexico

We had some mighty ambitious plans for this day, taking into account our first real foray into an international port on our own was the day before. Our plans for Cozumel were to head out exploring on a road trip. An adventure at the very least!

Good Morning, Cozumel!



Three of the four Carnival ships had followed us into port (or vice versa, I wasn’t awake, so I don’t really know). They all gazed over at the glory of the Magic from their top deck, and the horn duel began! No way could the monotone bleat of their horn compare to the tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star”, and we were close enough to see their faces light up in amazement when they heard it.




We trekked across Deck 9, heading towards Topsiders for some breakfast, when I spotted my suspected Secret Mickey Denise over by the Mickey Pool (her kids were getting in an early swim). I went over to chat and I had to ask her if she was indeed our Secret Mickey. She was surprised I had figured it out, and said she had planned to reveal, but I guess I blew that. I probably should have just kept quiet, but the suspense was killing us.

We left them to enjoy the empty pool, and grabbed some grub. I was really disappointed to not find the Mickey waffles on the Topsider’s buffet. Sacrilege. A Disney boat should be required to serve Mickey waffles every morning, period. End of debate. I had to settle for some not so great (and not character shaped) pancakes. I topped them with strawberries and whipped cream and that made them palatable.

Sarah didn’t want Mickey waffles, but keep bringing the whipped cream!



We ate pretty quickly, since we were getting a later start to the day. On our way around the deck, we gazed over at mainland Mexico.



We were downstairs and off the ship in no time. I could not believe how clear and beautiful the water was right where we docked. It was just an amazing crystal turquoise hue.




As we traversed the dock, we noticed a U.S.Coast Guard ship docked there also. Good to keep in mind in case we ran into trouble, if you know what I mean.






As you exit the dock area, you are directed up some stairs (or an elevator) up into a shopping plaza/mall kind of setup, aptly named Punta Lagosta Mall. Here’s where the real fun starts. Every single shop (and they were all either the requisite souvenir shops with maracas, clay sculptures, piñatas and fiesta colored woven blankets, clothing shops with sombreros, Aztec patterned tunics, and sundresses, or pharmacies where we could have, and should have loaded up on some good ‘ol Mexican antibiotics. Each and every store had several honchos stationed outside in the walkway beckoning us to come inside. We just looked and walked straight ahead trying to get past all of the commotion, and assuming it would improve when we exited this very touristy shopping center. Uh, nope.

One other thing you couldn’t help but notice was that there were a bunch of guys in areas of the mall holding iguanas, or snakes, or parrots, or monkeys, or other various creatures...but to take a picture with the animals cost like $10 (with your own camera, of course.) Also in increments along the mall plaza stood podiums and on these podiums were what looked to be statues (of a Mexican soldier, for instance). I had to look very carefully, but they were real people standing still, as if they were frozen in place. Ten bucks to get a picture with them, too.

We thought it would get better as we exited the mall and entered the streets of San Miguel (the name of the actual city, Cozumel is the name of the whole island). We were wrong. In fact, it got way worse in the streets. There were more shops, more honchos, and now they were yelling at you “Senorita come inside…”, “Come in, Come in, we are the cheapest in all of Cozumel” “Rich American family, come in here”…No kidding! I have read stories that they will actually touch you or grab you in an attempt to direct you into their store, but that did not happen to us. The whole, long walk I just kept repeating as if on a loop, “No thank you, Gracias…no”.

And about that long walk. Tip #1: If you plan on renting a car in Cozumel, take my advice and just go with the place at the port. Yeah, it may cost you a few more pesos (or, more likely dinieros) but believe me when I tell you; things aren’t always as they appear. We got the idea for the road trip over on Cruise Critic, where do-it-yourself explorations of port are fairly commonplace. Most people planning on cruising the island get jeeps, but we decided to just get a compact car with A/C, since we would be toting Sarah along with us. We learned a lot of do’s and don’ts regarding how to handle your money in Mexico, and we chose a car rental agency based on certain criteria. We wanted a well-known company, one of the familiar American names. We wanted to pay as little as possible. We wanted to not use our credit card to secure the rental because we did not want a huge hold on it, since it was the same card we were using for our onboard account. There was one right at the Punta Lagosta Mall, but we figured we save a few bucks by walking off the general port area and a little ways out into the city proper. We found one that fit all of our requirements and reserved a car. According to our map, it was just a few blocks away; it looked like a reasonable walk. It wasn’t. Maybe under better circumstances, but with the annoying store hawkers, hordes of tourists rambling the narrow streets and sidewalks aimlessly, the general confusion of trying to figure out where you are in real life compared to on the map, and carrying bags with a change of clothes, towels, snorkeling gear, water and snacks, a diaper bag, a full car seat with base, and a stroller we were frazzled pretty quickly. Finally we found our car rental agency; it was just an obnoxiously long walk. Yeah it appeared to be a few blocks, but they were LONG blocks. I’d venture to say we walked well over a mile, maybe two.

A not-so-long-looking Mexican street (appearances can be deceiving):






Ron went up to the car rental agency’s window and began the check in process. Right away we had issues. They wanted a credit card, and for the reasons I already mentioned we did not want to use one. We had been very careful when securing the reservation to ensure that it would be a cash only transaction. I was pretty upset to find out we had walked all that way for nothing! The clerk got on the phone with the manager; since we actually had a printed confirmation that stated right on there that it was cash only. But the manager didn’t budge and neither did we. There was another car rental agency right across the street (Thrifty) so Ron ran over there to see if they could meet our terms. Sure enough, they had no problem relieving us of our American dollars. He filled out the paperwork and we were soon on our way. For a 4-door sedan auto and A/C, unlimited mileage with the no-deductible insurance it was a little over $83. Not bad, really.

We waited at the corner (and I made sure to take a picture of it so we could remember where to bring it back to) for them to bring the car around.



While we waited Savannah had fun dancing in the street to the very loud Mexican music:



Our luck just keeps on rolling! Car number 13! Yay!



We circled back around past the dock. It was much quicker in a car.

A beautiful sight:



We had a neat map that everyone over yonder on CC raves about. It cost about $8, and I concede that for the most part it was very good. We found a couple of things about it a bit outdated (Margaritaville wasn’t listed-but it had only been open a few months. Plus it turned out that the name of at least one of the beach resorts was outdated). It was still a great map and in our opinion, a good value. If you want to purchase it, you can find it here: Map Chick’s Cozumel Map.

Our plan of attack was to follow the main road south along the west coast and stop at one (or more) of the beach resorts along the west coast for swimming and snorkeling. At the southern peninsula, we would check out Punta Sur, then travel across to the east coast and head back north. On the east side we would explore some of the beaches and bars there, have lunch at Coconuts and then take Transversal road back to downtown. Our route can be shown here in the yellow box, (not counting the little jog northward on the west coast. After we dropped off the car, we would stop and relax at the new Margaritaville Cozumel.



Ron had done all the research on the best beaches and beach clubs. We had a few picked out, Dzul Ha, and Playa Corona among them. As we headed south along the coast, one of the first things we noticed is that some of these “resorts” were dives. We drove for a bit and decided to make our first stop at Dzul Ha, which was now called ‘The Money Bar”.

Looking north towards the cruise ship piers along the west coast:




The Money Bar was just a big open air tiki-hut bar, with some beach umbrellas, a massage cabana, and water sport equipment rental.









We strolled up, took our choice of umbrellas and made a drink order. It was still early, so just a coke, diet coke, and iced tea for us. The iced tea tasted funky. It was kind of sweet, kind of sour. I think it had lime in it. We liked the Diet Coke…over there it is called “Coca-Cola Light”







The kids and Ron headed out into the water for a swim and some snorkeling. As with most all beaches in Cozumel, the access area here was rocky. There was a small boat ramp and stairs with a handrail to help enter and exit the ocean but walking around in the water still was difficult, even with water shoes.












(**continued in the next post**)
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:19 PM   #230
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Mexico (continued)

Continued from previous post:


Looks like pool water, doesn't it?



Ron said the snorkeling was not great (OK for shore snorkeling, completely underwhelming compared to the snorkeling we did the day before in Grand Cayman). He compared it to what you see at Castaway Cay.




We hung out there for a little while. We stayed approximately an hour and a half or a bit more. It was mostly dead, but the calm and quiet was very relaxing. The staff was gushing over Sarah, especially the massage tech (who only briefly hinted at how much I would enjoy a massage, no hard sell!) We thought it was a very nice place to stop and spend a few hours. Not to mention they had nice clean bathrooms where you can put the toilet paper in the toilet and not the garbage can! (Yup, not all toilets in Mexico can handle Charmin!)

Some more photos of The Money Bar and view:










This is why they call it the “Money Bar”



It was a partly cloudy day, but some darker more threatening clouds were moving in as we headed out. We hoped to not encounter any inclement weather, but as the guy there said “It only rains for 7 minutes in Cozumel, then bright skies again”...or something to that effect. We sure hoped he knew what he was talking about!

Up Next: Take Another Road
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:22 PM   #231
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Hi Jen! I'm back and enjoyed finding your update! I love the "glow baby"
Thanks! She was actually starting to interfere with our view of the fireworks, she was so bright! LOL!

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Hi! I've spent alot more time than I should have this morning enjoying your trip report! Looks like you had a great time! Can't wait to hear more!
Thanks so much for reading!! I'm glad you are enjoying the TR!
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Old 04-23-2009, 10:54 PM   #232
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Jen, your pics in post 230 aren't showing up!
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Old 04-23-2009, 11:14 PM   #233
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Jen, your pics in post 230 aren't showing up!
I can see them
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Old 04-23-2009, 11:49 PM   #234
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I can see them
Darn! I'll have to see if I can seem them at work tomorrow!!! It's just showing a little red X out box in the corner of where the picture should be.
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:04 AM   #235
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Jen, your pics in post 230 aren't showing up!
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Darn! I'll have to see if I can seem them at work tomorrow!!! It's just showing a little red X out box in the corner of where the picture should be.
Uh oh! I can see them too, so I dunno! They're on photobucket... let me know if you can see them at work!

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I can see them

Thanks! And thanks so much for reading!
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:39 AM   #236
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Hey! Loved your Cozumel day so far! Cute dancing Savannah! I was thinking, "dance like no one's watching!" I wish I could dance with joy like that and not care if anyone see's me! Wow! That water is beautiful!
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:09 PM   #237
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Great installment!!! Now let's hear more about our adventure and mishaps!!!
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:58 PM   #238
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Great update - I can hardly wait for more. I'm sensing there may be more excitement just around the next bend

Please don't keep us in suspense
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Old 04-24-2009, 03:29 PM   #239
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Hey! Loved your Cozumel day so far! Cute dancing Savannah! I was thinking, "dance like no one's watching!" I wish I could dance with joy like that and not care if anyone see's me! Wow! That water is beautiful!
Thanks! Yeah, she just recently started letting us film her spontaneous dances like that. It used to be when she saw the camera she stopped immediately. Now she's such a ham!

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Great installment!!! Now let's hear more about our adventure and mishaps!!!
You're going to have to help me with the "Great Filling Station Holdup" part...I think that is at least one segment away, tho.

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Great update - I can hardly wait for more. I'm sensing there may be more excitement just around the next bend

Please don't keep us in suspense
Hi Joh, thanks! You betcha there is more excitement! Coming up soon we have "real Mexico" the good and the ugly, some immobilizing beverages, a glimpse of federales, the afore mentioned filling station "holdup", and Margaritaville Part 2!
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Old 04-24-2009, 03:36 PM   #240
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I'm ready for the "immobilizing beverages"! Is it five o'clock yet? Did you have to pay a fee for using the facilities at the Money Bar or just buy a couple of drinks?
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