per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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Cozumel
dream
evcelt


We had already docked in Cozumel by the time we were up and dressed. Our shore excursion wasn't 'til eleven, which meant we had time for a more leisurely breakfast. So we decided to head for the dining room. Eggs Benedict, something I hadn't had in a long time- yum.

A brief diversion here: this cruise was apparently partially or mostly dedicated to various sorts of special groups- I think there was an AA group, a GLBT group, etc. So it didn't surprise me too much when satyr69 announced "We're not the biggest freaks on the cruise- there's a Harry Potter fan group on board." They were mostly young, mostly female... the occasional eye-candy in schoolgirl outfits was making me mutter "special hell" once in a while. Other than that, I had to walk through a lounge where they were doing HP karaoke once, and I'm glad I had a drink to hand...

So, anyway, seating at breakfast was with large tables and the staff seated us at a table that mostly had HP fans sitting there. They seemed miffed at having to share the table with us, but at least no-one said anything about "muggles" or I might have had to do something. They were all young women, and appeared to be at least somewhat hung over... from their estrogen-fueled conversation, I opined later to monsteralice that a reasonably-presentable straight male in their group could get all the action he wanted, and she agreed.

We spent a little time looking at the water from the deck. It was amazing- clear enough that we could easily see the bottom (even with our height above the water and the depth of it), and this indescribable luminous blue. Looking out to the island, you could see how it changed from turquoise to aqua to deep sapphire as it got deeper. Just astonishing.

Then it was time to disembark- a much quicker process this time, given that we were back on schedule. After the obligatory pictures with costumed people (the glam Maya warriors were particularly amusing), we sauntered on down the pier... the much much shorter pier and checked in with our excursion. We then had a little free time to scout around before we left. The port shopping district was called "Puerto Maya", and much better organized than the one at Progreso, but it didn't seem as interesting. It looked like there were still some outlying areas that hadn't been rebuilt after Hurricane Wilma, and it was unclear whether they would ever be rebuilt.

Then it was off to the bus. Our tour guide this time was Tony, another wiseacre. The drive wasn't too interesting until we got around to the eastern side of Cozumel, and then wow. Beautiful beaches, weird limestone formations, blowholes, all backed by that incredible Caribbean blue, glowing in the sun. Then we turned away from the shore, and arrived at the ranch.

The area we were at was charming- a covered but open-air area with tables, a bar and a shop or two, with the stables off to one side. The weather was nearly perfect- warm and sunny but breezy and not too humid. Tony gathered us for our orientation talk, which he delivered on horseback. He gave us some simple rules for safety and talked us through how to direct the horses. Then we were matched up with our steeds. Mine was a grey named Ana, and seemed pretty calm and laid-back... which was good, as this was my first time on horseback. monsteralice had a great deal of riding experience when she was a kid, and so got a better horse. I was just happy that I mounted with minimal assistance and that Ana seemed to be OK with me. In my tan shirt, black jeans, helmet and sunglasses, I looked a bit like a mounted cop.

So we went off riding. The route had a number of mostly fake but charming Maya statues and "ruins" along it. There were a lot of iguanas, and the occasional bird, but not much else in the wildlife department. Occasionally, Tony would stop us and talk about various aspects of Maya history. One stop was at a cave that the Maya used for ceremonial purposes... apparently, the ranch puts on a show there at night for visitors who are staying late enough. A number of the people on the tour were kids from a ranch where they run a horseback riding program for troubled teens or something like that... pretty cool.

All through the ride, Ana was minimally responsive to my attempts to get her to go a bit faster (she generally flicked her ears and snorted, which no doubt meant "Noob!" in horse) but was pretty responsive to direction and the like. And at least I didn't have the really fractious horse, who ended up biting most of the other horses and kicked a few people, too.

Eventually, we headed back for base. Ana picked up a bit of speed on this part, no doubt eager to get shut of me. It was a lot of fun, in general, but I was glad it was a short session to start with... I was also glad of the free Coronas that were available at the bar. monsteralice and I spent some time swinging in hammocks, then I won a lovely blanket in a raffle. After that, it was time for the bus ride back to the port. Some of the passengers tried half-seriously to get Tony to let them off at one of the beaches...

Back at Puerta Maya, we did a little shopping- prices weren't as good as at Progreso, no surprises there- and watched the general drunkenness and bad behavior. I think if/when we do this cruise again, we won't do an excursion at all- just hop a cab into town, do some shopping, visit the museum.

monsteralice and I scored a couple of Mexican Cokes each- I almost chugged my first one immediately- so good. I collected some seawater and saw some kind of black and yellow sea creature (sea slug?) in a tide pool before the security folks told me to get back onto the paved areas. The Carnival Ecstasy was in this port, too, but leaving a half hour ahead of us... so we got to be amused at people frantically running up the pier as they were casting off. We also spent a little time mocking the Ecstasy for being smaller and shabbier than the Fantasy.

Back on board, I made us rum-and-cokes with the Mexican Cokes and the rum from the closet... best I've ever had, just like candy. Then it was off to the Serenity deck to hang out and watch us pull away from Cozumel. We were graced with a lovely sunset, which was the perfect end to our time there. Dinner that night was very good- I had fried grouper and shrimp, which was pretty good but not sublime. Somebody speculated on what our dining room staff would do this time, and satyr69 said "the Macarena." He was right, which caused much jollity.

After that, monsteralice and I spent some time drowsing on the Serenity deck. In my case, this merged into disturbing and morbid speculations about how easy it would be to jump off the ship and not even be missed until much later... I had to go and stand at the stern and look at the wake for a while to clear it out of my head. Then I was restless, and wandered the ship for a while. They had a big Mexican buffet set up (which I was still too full to do more than sample) and a party going on on the Lido deck. The Sports deck (topmost deck) was closed due to high wind- not surprising; the relative wind speed was close to tropical storm strength. After that, I went and got monsteralice and we headed off to bed.

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