1999 - 2000 - 2001 - February 2, 2002 - February 3, 2002 - March 3, 2002 - May 4, 2002 - July 31, 2002 - Bahamas 2002 - November 9, 2002 - D2D New Years 2003: Belize - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009
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Coz 2002

June 30, 2002 through July 7, 2002
Cozumel, Mexico

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A group of D2D divers, kind of ad hoc, getting together and visiting Cozumel, Mexico. Not the best arranged trip I've been on, but then everything was pretty much a "group" decision. I gave my vote to my sister, so that all I really had to do was show up on the island some place.

What The Heck Is Cozumel?

I'd say most people have heard of it. Cozumel is an island off of the coast of Mexico (near Cancun, pretty much directly across from Playa Del Carmen), in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo; look just to the east of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea. It's the largest Mexican island in the Caribbean, and is also the most populated. It's about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide.

Pre-Trip and Flying Stuff

Passport required ... you're leaving the U.S.! After the near-fiasco in getting to Curacao, I've learned to minimize my baggage and maximize my carry on. I've also learned that there's clothing I'll need and clothing I don't need to bother to take. I also had a larger dive bag this time too. Unfortunately, scuba diving bags don't have durable enough zippers for my tastes; two or three broke coming back from Cozumel.

When landing in Cozumel, they may tell you that you can find your baggage at "Carousel One" ... they actually mean "the one carousel" ... at least for international flights.

Funny thing ... all my flights were on time for the most part. No delay in boarding, but there was a delay in taking off from Cozumel to Houston, and some delays getting to the gate in Houston, so I got off of the plane with an hour to make it through Customs and to the gate for the flight to Tampa (which was in a completely different terminal, of course).

Oh yeah ... from what I can tell, few airlines go to Cozumel directly. Continental's hub is out of Houston, so with them, you'll stop there going to and from Coz. According to my sister, US Air's hub that goes to Coz is Charlotte, NC. When I checked, no flights left Miami that went to Coz ... all of those stopped in Cancun first, and required a change of planes.

Leaving Cozumel, they'll have you open up every bag you have. They made me turn my camera on. They even checked carry-ons twice, and I got "wanded" and my shoes checked the second time, and had to explain what contact solution was to the guy there.

In other words, they are very thorough.

Where We Stayed

Casa Mexicana is a fairly new hotel situated in Cozumel near Punta Langosta, a cruise ship port that was recently built. It's also within easy walking distance of Cozumel's main square (across from where the people ferries dock). There are many shops in this area.

Diving

Papa Hogs is a short cab ride ($5 American, $6 with a tip or if the cabbie thinks you're a Pod Person--someone from a cruise ship) from Casa Mexicana. Not necessarily a bad thing, next time I'd look into finding some place closer to Papa Hogs. They have an excellent dive operation; though there is a lack of shady areas on most of their boats, the weather in early July is cool enough that if you leave your dive skin and shorty on, you'll be sufficiently protected from the sun, yet cool due to the breezes and water still in the skin.

If Papa Hogs isn't your style, there are several inclusive resorts on the island. Other than that, throw a rock and there's a good chance you'll hit a dive shop. They're all over the place.

We did three dives a day (usually two morning, one afternoon) for the first five days, and then did two on Saturday (my plane leaving Sunday at noonish meant that I had to be out of the water by noon on Saturday). Seventeen more dives ... and a new depth record on one ...

Other Stuff

Shopping! I hate shopping, only less than I hate haggling. However, haggling for prices is an artform in Cozumel and is only made more difficult when there's a cruise ship in port. So, shop on the off days (not sure when those are, really) and haggle.

Tipping! Bring many American 1 dollar bills. That's the standard tip for everything.

Exchange Rates! If you're not working with a bank or exchange shop, it can be very fluid, depending on where you go. Cabbies worked on a 9 Peso = 1 Dollar rate, as did many shops. Other places are generous and give a 10 Peso = 1 Dollar rate. I think the official rates depend on buying and selling. US Dollars are usually accepted everywhere and most places give you the bill in both Pesos and Dollars. However, credit cards are almost always subject to a hefty tax or service charge.

On To The Dives

  • July 1, 2002 (Santa Rosa Wall - Yucab - Las Palmas)
  • First day of diving in Cozumel, and the first day diving since early May for me. Wasn't my best day, but as they say, "A Bad Day Of Diving Is Still Better Than A Good Day At Work."
  • July 2, 2002 (Palancar Ladrillo - Punta Tunich - Chankanaab Reef)
  • Day two! I took everyone's advice and wore my skin this day. Good thing, too, since there are a noticable number of (small) jellys in the water. Also, I was a little toasty from the day before.
  • July 3, 2002 (Columbia - Dalila - Villa Blanca)
  • The afternoon dive was done at "Villa Blanca," or "White House". It's barely a short boat ride from the Papa Hogs dock, but it's a very interesting reef.
  • July 4, 2002 (Punta Sur - Las Palmas - Yucab)
  • We had planned this trip to "Punta Sur," which has a swim through that's called "Devil's Throat," the exit of which is down between 120 and 130 feet. Deepest dive for me yet!
  • July 5, 2002 (Columbia Pillars - Balones de Chankanaab - Villa Blanca)
  • Some really cool sites on this day, named after what the coral formations look like.
  • July 6, 2002 (Columbia Pillars - Tormentos)
  • Our last day of diving, planned for two dives. Some of our party either had left the day before (and stopped diving a couple of days before) or spent the day with non-diving spouses.


Videos!

Videos are only from the party at Senor Frogs.

Pictures!

Some photos from here and there around the square, dive shop, and at the party at Senor Frogs the last day we were there.
The sun sets on the first day in Cozumel. Tired from flying, I went out onto the balcony and saw that this might be a half way decent shot ... so I took it.
The sun has set, and now the name of the hotel is lit up a little. You can see the lights on the cruise ship dock in the background, and possibly (though most likely barely visible) some lights from Playa del Carmen on the mainland.
While out walking around the shops, we came across this place ... anything to get the Gringos in to a restaurant, I guess.
My sister, caught unawares. This kinda looks like an advertisement for bottled water. Drinking water is important to divers, particularly in hot locations, as dehydration can contribute to decompression sickness.
Bill's non-diving wife, Jeanette, and my sister, shopping for a silver necklace.
The "Grand Princess," pulling into Punta Langosta. She's a huge ship.
Don't let this photo fool you. These guys work hard, we just caught them in the morning before things got started. That's Enrique, Ivan, and our DM, Naum. The fourth guy (on the right) is not known to me.
Next to the Papa Hogs office is the Hogs Town Cafe, a restaurant that serves excellent food. Blanca, who belongs to the people who run Papa Hogs, is a frequent visitor for lunch. She's only allowed to eat at the table with a bib though ... and she's kinda picky about what she will eat (french fries don't cut it, particularly if there's meat about).
Blanca waits patiently as Bill selects a morsel for her.
She politely accepts the offering.
Bernadette and John, Diver-to-Diver members from Florida who only recently started diving, doubled the number of dives in their log book on this trip. Here they are on their last day as we waited for a table. Bernadette is not impressed with my ability to catch people unawares ... "I had my finger in my eye!"
Jen, Angie, and Chuck strolling through the shops near the main square after dinner.
Go figure that we go to a Mexican city and eat Italian. Twice. Prima was a great restaurant. The Mexicans really know how to make great Italian food, it seems.
Bill sat across from me at dinner. He probably should have known better since I had the camera. No worries ... he'd get me back later in the evening.
Bill and Jen at dinner.
Jeanette and Bill ... awww, ain't they cute?
This is to show that even in Cozumel, there are things you can't get away from.
And as if there were any doubt, yes, it's a McDonald's. I didn't go here (but I will admit to sneaking to the Burger King at Punta Langosta). The steps in this picture show one of the more interesting features of Cozumel's buildings: How many shops are actually above other shops. Heck, the lobby (and pool!) of Casa Mexicana was up an escalator, above a rug shop.
And the party started. After eating at Prima on our last day, we stolled back to the hotel for a little rest, and then moved on to Senor Frogs. This picture only hints at the danger of showing someone else how to use your camera. Here I am with the Senor Frogs Girls, who Bill had called over and pointed towards me. This is shortly after they forced a couple of shots down my throat.
Here I am with Angie (Chuck's wife, btw) and Jen. Angie was wearing very visible lipstick, as you will see later. That's our DM, Naum, behind us.
I was still sober enough to realize I didn't have a good picture of Chuck and Angie together. I was a little buzzed at the time so this is what you get.
Here's another photo of Bill and Jeanette. I was kind of hoping that since I was taking pictures people would leave me to my own devices.
Caught slightly unprepared (and a little more buzzed), here I am thinking "Oh God, Bill's got my camera again."
Here's Jen, me, and Jeanette.
Yes, given enough incentive (and alcohol), even I dance once in a while.
Dancin' again. Never again will I be safe with my camera around Bill.
This is not to say that I didn't enjoy myself ...
Bill and Jeanette and I. I think Jen took this picture. Some of the pictures ended up on the tape instead of the memory stick and it's not easy to get those still pictures off ... (hmmm, that's a convenient excuse).
Jen and Angie liked the bass player. A lot.
Angie left her mark shortly before she departed with Chuck.
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