Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper

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OmahaBruce
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/05 17:15:25 (permalink)
+1 (1)
Here is our supply of limes when we first arrived at the condo.  That bowl is bigger than it looks in the picture.  There were over 300 limes in that bowl.  There were also about a dozen or so on the counter that wouldn't fit into the bowl.

 
When we left, there were only 27 limes left.   Gosh, those limas were primas!

 

I'd much rather have sand in my shorts than snow in my shoes.
#26
9KrazyCats
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/05 22:30:57 (permalink)
+2 (2)
Loving your report and Steve O!! yeah...love to read your reports also!  
#27
Tomas
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/06 08:21:23 (permalink)
+1 (1)
I thought that was Residencias. We took a walk around the place a couple years ago. The only problem is that we like to have a few cocktails before and during dinner and do not want to drink and drive. Taxi fares to and from town that far south on the island are rather steep. They looked like nice condos from what we could see. I like that pier close by. Looks like it would be good for going snorkeling.


"Turn up the heat,
chill the rose,
stretch out on the beach
and let those metatarsals play"
(Rev. J. Buffett)
#28
OmahaBruce
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/06 08:50:36 (permalink)
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Day 3 – Sunday
 
Our first full day at Residencias Reef established a pattern that we would prove incapable of breaking out of until our last day.  Except for a few daily variations to the theme, here is the pattern:  I would awaken somewhere around 6 and start the coffee.  By the time Brenda woke up and showered, I usually had breakfast well on its way.  Chorizo, sautéed and strained then mixed with egg; diced white potatoes fried up in chorizo oil with sweet white onion; fresh tortillas with salsa.  We would add papaya for a couple of days until it started to turn, then it was just mango or cantaloupe.

We suffered through it.  One would think it might become tiresome but it was so tasty neither of us wanted anything else. 
Afterward, we would head down for a two or three hour snorkeling session then hang out at the palapa and drink Coronas with lime until we got too warm or just felt like going back in.

We might snorkel together or separately for another hour or two, until one of us got hungry and then we would go make lunch. 
…or not. 
I gotta say, it really took no time at all to get used to the complete and utter lack of any kind of schedule whatsoever.
Usually we would hang out on the loungers under the palapa – especially in the midday when the sun was like …well, like a really close friend that likes to beat the living crap out of you if you don't show him respect.    Seriously, I only neglected the sunscreen on Sunday. 

After that, I became as conservative with the bottle of SPF50 as I was with the Coronas and limes.  i.e. not conservative at all.  It really didn’t hurt much until the sun beat down right on me so I started snorkeling with a T-shirt on.  When we weren’t hanging out under the palapa we would go down and sit at the edge of the rock garden.
 
I imagine it is probably human made but this nifty little hundred and fifty (sq.ft.) of iron shore rocks form a perfect little rectangle that is its own little ecosystem.  I discovered one day while waiting for Brenda that I only need about a foot of water to get my head under the surface and alter my perception of reality.  Here’s what I mean:  With my head above water, I can see that it is very shallow.  I can see that I’m in a big, big world, and the two or three square feet of rocks and seawater is very tiny.  But with a mask over my face, a snorkel in my mouth, and my head under water, that tiny little space would suddenly become much, much, larger.  I could study a tiny little crab or colorful tropical fish for several minutes and not get the slightest bit bored.  Can I get a a-men here?  Does anyone get what I’m saying?  It’s like I was a visitor to a completely foreign world and I had all the time I needed to observe as much as I wanted.
That first full day is when we walked all the way down south past Playa Mia.  It was Sunday so the day resorts weren’t filled up with Cruisers but still, some folks were abusing the waters with jet skis.  I mean, I know they’re having fun and I don’t begrudge them for that but I just find them annoying.  I bet there would be a lot more interesting and larger fish if they were not there and it was quieter as a result. 
There was a section of no-mans-land beach between our condo and Carlos Y Charley’s that I started calling Yuck-beach because of a very fine black organic material that seemed to hang right there.  We decided that there really was nothing down there that appealed to us so we never walked back that direction very far.  On our way back though, we stopped up into the tree line away from the water and I knocked down a couple of almost ripe coconuts.  Almost, as in, not even close.  I pretended to be Tom Hanks and reenacted a scene from Castaway attempting to break one open.  Chuck Noland, I get it.  I really do.

So, we did a whole lot of snorkeling in the water off our own beach and also immediately to our north.  The water under the pier we found to be teeming with fish, as was basically any place that offered the slightest bit of shade.  There was a lot of chub, some angelfish, damselfish, trumpetfish, barracuda, stingray, squid, French grunt, sergeant majors, butterflyfish, parrotfish, grouper, flounder, lobster, spotted moray eel, Black Durgon (and other triggerfish) Rock Beauty, Blue Tang, and a few trunkfish.  Brenda had the only means of underwater photography and it was very difficult.  Much of it is rubbish but there are some moments of brilliance.  I’m just going to have to spend a lot of time watching all the video to cull out the good stills …maybe in time for the day 5 or 6 installment of this trip report.  All my photos are above water.
Whether or not we ate lunch, we would still do some more snorkeling and some more hanging out on the beach and drinking cerveza con limon.  For our Sunday dinner, we had chicken and potatoes and fruit.  Pictures were lost with my cellphone swim on Wednesday.  The food was always good & tasty - sometimes quite remarkable -  but not so spectacular to rave about.  Spending time together, cooking together, and enjoying the meal together was the real attraction.  We got to do quite a bit of that and never really had any disasters.
We went down for a sunset swim as the water became so calm that you could water ski on it. 

Then after the sun dipped down below the horizon we would head on up to the balcony to admire the approaching dusk and the incredible palette of colors that would accompany the transition from day to evening.  Here’s a few of my favorites…
 
 
 
 
 
After the last bit of color had drained from the sky, we decided to just stay where we were; hanging out on the balcony and listening to the live music drifting over from Secrets until the mosquitoes told us to go to bed.


I'd much rather have sand in my shorts than snow in my shoes.
#29
Gwen
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/06 09:54:22 (permalink)
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I'm there, right now.  So peaceful
Thanks for the mini vaca.
 
#30
wetone
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/06 11:09:14 (permalink)
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I'm loving your report! So very descriptive----I feel like I should turn in myself.
 

 

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#31
Tomas
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/06 11:09:26 (permalink)
+1 (1)
Gwen
Thanks for the mini vaca.
 




I guess I missed the part about the small cow.
 
Even more awesomality. Gracias, Bruce.
I get that about the space thing. Many times I have lifted my snorkel head out of the water to realize I am mere inches from large rock formations, etc. Head back in the water and it's a canyon.
And, just for the record, I think it's really cool that you care enough about your cell phone to take it snorkeling with you.
 


"Turn up the heat,
chill the rose,
stretch out on the beach
and let those metatarsals play"
(Rev. J. Buffett)
#32
jpool
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/06 13:18:28 (permalink)
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I'm enjoying your trip report. We stayed on Cozumel our very first trip to MX in 1994. This year we got a great deal at ABBWR and wanted to check out the updates. Maybe next year we can get back there. Thanks for taking the time to report!




 
 
 



#33
SnorkelNfools
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/06 15:07:28 (permalink)
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I am currently missing Mexico so your report is a wonderful tonic! Thanks!
Keep it coming!

Keav & Pam



#34
Badger
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/06 16:11:57 (permalink)
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A-MEN hermano!

Wag more....bark less.
#35
crunch
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/07 12:57:12 (permalink)
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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA- men!  Breakfast looks delicious.
#36
OmahaBruce
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/07 15:08:27 (permalink)
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Day 4
Monday was a lot like Sunday.  The major difference was that our snorkel world was beginning to expand and our exploration walk was to the north instead of the south.  Breakfast was the same.  We skipped lunch because we did so much snacking on the Sabritas (lemon peanuts) while we enjoyed the Coronas and lime.

Vacations are supposed to push the edge of the envelope though, so to add a twist to our libations I set up some frozen drinks.  I blended up some banana, mango, and pineapple juice, added in a (un)healthy amount of rum and stuck it all in the freezer.  Later that afternoon when the day was at its warmest, I went up and got that, blended in some ice and we enjoyed some totally awesome homemade frozen fru-fru drinks at our palapa.

Heading north was a really nice series of all-inclusive resorts.  Early in the week we were very careful to only walk right at the waterline and avoid moving further in on the beach.  By the end of the week however, we had been around so much that I bet the bartenders would have served us free drinks if we had so requested.  Nobody seemed to be wearing bracelets. 
The wildlife under the pier was abundant but fairly common.  It was nice to swim with the fishes anyway.  We found quite a number of starfish.  Most had five limbs but we did find a couple with only four.  We never saw any with six arms but I did look. 

On our morning walk I came across a really nice almost completely undamaged purple pitcher sponge that had washed ashore the previous night.  I took it up to the condo and cleaned it up.  It made a really nice addition to the condo decorations.

We decided to see how far north we could walk up the beach but when we got to the end of the sand we realized that to go further we would need shoes.  The iron shore was sharp and scary looking.  So we set that aside for another time and headed back for our snorkel gear.

I don’t think I've mentioned it yet, but sometime on Saturday while shopping I lost my hat.  It’s sad because it had belonged to my brother who lost his battle with cancer a few years ago.  I know that he would have told me not to worry about it, so I didn’t. I did need a hat though so I found one that I like even better and paid the girl 300 for it. ($20us)  I’m not sure whether it was a bargain or not but it sure seems so.  I like my hat.

I noticed that Brenda held a particular fascination with los pelicanos.  There were three of them that often flew in formation and fished for their meals.  It seemed to be us in their territory more than them in ours.
  
 
Even though they seemed graceful in flight, their fishing methods were laughably awkward.  From heights of 10 to 25’ he would dive bomb his targets.  If he missed, he would climb back into the air and up 10’ or so and try again.  I think I figured out what was happening.  There always seemed to be these huge schools of sardines swimming really close to the shore.  Every once in a while we would hear and see glimpses of fish fins breaching the surface from a group of larger fish venturing in to feast on these sardines.  Those pelicans had to have been hunting those larger fish.  Fascinating to see it all play out right under the nose of tourists who may or may not have had any clue of what was really happening.

In the center area of Residencias was a natural area that had a raised boardwalk crossing through it. 

At either end or that walkway was a brick path that led to the condo entrances at the inland end or the beach at the other.  Many times we would have to pause to watch Iggy do whatever it is that Iggy does. Sometimes he seemed as interested in us as we were in him. 

Other times he would dart off as if he just remembered an important appointment.  Watching them move slowly, you can see a connection to the prehistoric world.  Watching them move swiftly only makes you laugh.  There had to have been a ton of wildlife in there but aside from the birds, we only ever saw the iguanas and the smaller lizards.  But we sure heard other creatures.
Monday afternoon Brenda went up to the condo to chill out while I went back out to study the microcosm of our little rock garden in the surf.  I didn’t have a camera to record the fascination there but Brenda at least snapped a single frame that clearly and perfectly conveyed the appeal of chilling in the hammock on the balcony. 

Personally, I did not care for the feel of the rope/twine/yarn (whatever you call it) on my skin but as you can see, she felt quite differently.
She came back down for an evening snorkel excursion before dinner and we swam up to where a boat had been lodged vertically in the water.  It was a great little shelter for the fishies and we saw quite a variety there.  I wonder if Barracuda have any idea of how menacing they can look.
Neither of us can remember exactly what we had for dinner Monday night.  It had to be some derivation of the remaining chicken because aside from the chorizo, that’s the only meat we had.  But if I got pictures, and I’m sure I did, they were on thirsty-phone and are thusly never to be seen again. 

I'd much rather have sand in my shorts than snow in my shoes.
#37
LisaR
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/08 01:45:58 (permalink)
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OmahaBruce, I am enjoying your report so very much.  I can feel the relaxation just emanating from the screen.  Beautiful pictures and great description--I can't wait to read more!




#38
tooter
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/08 10:00:35 (permalink)
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mornings at the puter with my coffee have improved greatly due to your brilliant reporting
#39
OmahaBruce
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/08 13:07:11 (permalink)
+1 (1)
Wow, tooter, that is so nice of you to say.  I had no idea I could have such impact on a tooterputer.           
 
In fact, you are all so encouraging.  Thanks! 
 
I am working on day 5; the day we went back into San Miguel for additional supplies,  shopping, and dinner out at LaChoza


post edited by OmahaBruce - 2015/08/08 13:09:35

I'd much rather have sand in my shorts than snow in my shoes.
#40
PJamigo
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/08 18:33:05 (permalink)
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Bruce,   Loving your report!  More please...


#41
water baby
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/09 11:07:31 (permalink)
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GREAT T.R. !! Thanks for sharing your story and pics-hoping there's more to come!
#42
Mayan Boar
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/09 14:58:22 (permalink)
+1 (1)
Omaha Bruce.  Have really enjoyed the pics and detailed narrative.  What great memories with Brenda.  Thanks for spending all the time putting this together for us to enjoy.  MB


#43
Tomas
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/10 07:38:08 (permalink)
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Great update, Bruce! Gracias.
Many of us are fascinated by pelicans. You're not one of us?They are so cool and I've gotten within mere inches of them while snorkeling both at Yal-Ku and at Chankanaab Park on Cozumel. I like close-up photos of them.


"Turn up the heat,
chill the rose,
stretch out on the beach
and let those metatarsals play"
(Rev. J. Buffett)
#44
ntsochp2
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/10 11:46:41 (permalink)
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awesome!  thanks for all the details
#45
OmahaBruce
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/10 14:35:47 (permalink)
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Egads.  I just figured out that I have mixed up my dates.  I now believe that we went back into San Miguel on Monday and not Tuesday.  I'm still fairly certain that we were in Cozumel, but even that's in question.  I'm beginning to understand a little better how much effect on me all that Corona and Rum and Mezcal really had.  Maybe it was the sun.  Maybe it was a combination of it all.  Who knows.  
Anyway, this is my disclaimer that there may be errors in dates and chronology.  I trust that you all will be forgiving...

 

I'd much rather have sand in my shorts than snow in my shoes.
#46
LegendOnTheLoose
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/10 15:57:35 (permalink)
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Mixed up dates are no biggie in my book ~~ enjoying your report no matter what the day/date.
#47
Kwing
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/10 16:38:30 (permalink)
+1 (1)
Yes enjoying your TR - thanks!
 
Someone on LG used to have in their signature "Drink Rum it kills Scurvy"  So it was a healthy amount I'm sure you mixed with your fruit!
#48
OmahaBruce
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/10 21:24:00 (permalink)
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Day 5
Also known as “The REAL Day 4” because we went into San Miguel on Monday (not Tuesday) which also explains why the picture of me knocking down coconuts has me in the shirt I bought in San Miguel.  Whew, another mystery solved.  But my cell phone mishap also happened on Tuesday so I will share that then go back to our Monday trip to San Miguel…
 
After our usual breakfast, we went down for a morning snorkel.  I had no sooner sat down in the water before I felt my brand new Galaxy Note 4 in my pocket.  I remember when I put it into the pocket of my bathing suit I cautioned myself to take it out at the palapa.  Yeah, not so much.  There I was sitting in the ocean with my phone in my pocket.  I scrambled.  By the time I got to the palapa (which was a very short distance) I had the back off of it and the battery out of it.  I grabbed the keys and sprinted back to the condo, shaking the water out of the phone the whole way.  Once inside, I grabbed a bowl out of the cupboard, tore open our bag of rice and immersed the phone completely in the rice.  I stared at it for a few moments probing to determine if there was anything else I could do but really just wanting to rage at myself.   Since there was nothing else I could do for several days, I put it behind me, went back down to the beach and we continued with our snorkel. 
Fast forward a few days: Friday I decided that I had waited long enough so I put the phone back together and powered it on.  The logo appeared on the screen and it vibrated.  I thought both of these were excellent signs and I was ready to transfer the contents of the phone onto my laptop as soon as it was available.  The logo appeared again and it vibrated again.  I became less hopeful.  A few seconds later the screen went dark and never illuminated another pixel ever again.  Bummer.  Oddly enough, for some reason I had thrown a backup cell phone camera into my gear bag before we left.  So I have some pictures, but it’s an old camera and not a very good one.
Day 4 (for real this time)
We decided that Tuesday Monday was going to be the day we headed back into town.  Shortly after we arrived to the condo on Saturday, and much to our disappointment, we noticed that we had missed out on purchasing any meats for dinners except for a single chicken.  I thought she did and she thought I did.  It had not been a problem yet, but soon would be if we didn’t rectify the situation.  We wanted to also purchase some gifts for family back home and since the little souvenirs stand at the neighboring resort didn’t have what we wanted, we’d have to do that in San Miguel.
After our morning snorkel we went up and had some leftovers for lunch and called the front gate for a taxi.  I confirmed with the driver that the fare to the Mega was $150 before we got into the cab.  Antonio was our favorite cab driver of the entire trip.  We spoke with him nonstop – mostly in Spanish but he knew English fairly well and was able to correct my mistakes in a very nice way.  He made sure we were ok with an unscheduled stop by his home to pick up his lunch dish.  He also picked up one of his kids (one of a set of triplets) who rode with us to our destination.  Along the way we learned that Antonio is a dedicated soccer player.  He plays in several leagues and just loves life.  He had just come over on the ferry that morning after returning from a tournament in Merida.  Sightseeing from the taxi during the detour suited us just fine.  We both really love to see the real local life instead of the façade presented to tourists. 
We told him that we wanted to do a little shopping as if we were locals, not tourists.  And since we were intending on having dinner at LaChoza, where might we be able to shop and then walk to the restaurant?  His answer was Milano.  That’s where he does his shopping so that’s where we would do ours also.  Antonio dropped us off right in front of the store and we said our goodbyes.

Well turns out that Milano is mainly a clothing store.  They sell other stuff too but mainly clothes.  We looked around for a little while, and it was an interesting store for sure, but all we ended up buying was a Red Sox shirt ($30mx) that turned out to be a perfect snorkeling shirt.  You will see it in many pictures to come. 
Edit note:  That picture of Milano is courtesy of the www since the one that I took got destroyed with my phone along with all of the other pictures of our trip into San Miguel on Tuesday. So please pardon the following few pilfered pictures.
Before dropping us at Milano, Antonio had driven by the back entrance to the Plaza del Sol Artisan Market.

It was only a few blocks so we walked to it and did a little shopping for the kids back home.  We bought some t shirts, a ring for our 16 year old, and a few other miscellaneous stuff.  My wife’s wedding rings have been damaged for quite some time and she wanted a new ring to wear.  That was one of the main items on our list.  In one shop she found a 95/5 silver CZ that she liked that they wanted $225US.  We kept on saying no and they kept coming down on the price.  She did not want to go higher than $50 which is what she thought it was worth.  They wouldn’t come down lower than $75.  Finally she gave up and left.  I kept talking to the guy and he finally agreed to $50 so I went to find Brenda who had already moved on and set up in another shop.  We had never heard of Zultanite but this jeweler showed us a Zultanite ring that was just stunning.  We both loved it.  It started off at $380 and we talked them down to $172 cash (no VISA).  We didn’t have that much cash with us so I said we would sleep on it and come back tomorrow.  We wanted to do our research anyway, which we did.  So this is a VERY rare gem.  So rare in fact, that every known stone has a provenance and costs, well, mucho dinero.  Oddly enough, most jewellry stores on Coz have several from which tourists can choose from.
Indeed, the ring we were looking at was not real Tanzanite but I almost didn’t care.  It was beautiful.  Inside the store, the ring was a soft green but exposed to the light, it became a purpleish orange. I wanted it.

But Brenda is into authentic and didn’t want to part with that much cash for a fake.  I don’t really blame her, but…  
I may have a touch of non-buyer remorse.
 
Enough of that.  It was time for dinner.  I had heard a lot about this place called LaChoza and was looking forward to it.  We walked a few blocks to the restaurant and really liked the authenticity of the place.  It was decorated very nicely with a garden area in the rear.  We were seated and served some wonderful chips and queso.  Soon a guy discreetly placed a floor fan so that it would deliver a breeze in our direction.  We were obviously gringos and treated as such - but with respect.  I love Mexico.  
The queso had a spicy citrus flavor that Brenda says is the best she’s ever had.  There was nothing on the menu that was too expensive so I told the waiter that we would like whatever he thought was the best food they had..  He said that most of his customers really liked the mahi a lot so I said bring it.  Brenda was enjoying her Tecate and I discovered the Bohemia Dark.  MMmmmmmmm.  I looked around and noticed that everyone there except us was drinking out of a plastic glass with ice.  I surmised that we were the only non-locals there that evening.  Odd. 
The chef soon brought out the Mahi-Mahi which had been smoked on a hardwood plank along with vegetables and a bean soup.  I took great pictures but the ocean stole them.  The only shot I have is one that Brenda took with her phone of a wall near the front of the restaurant.

It’s hard to call LaChoza 5-star dining but I would give it a VERY heart-felt endorsement.  Try it.  You’ll really like it.
 
After dinner we started our stroll back toward the the Mega to do the rest of our shopping.  It was an interesting walk because all of the cruisers had just departed back aboard the ships.  Some of the peddlers were still in selling mode (I’ve seen plenty of that) but many others were engaged in more mundane and personal activities; socializing and such.  I spoke with a few but felt like I should really get on with my own business.  Time could run short on us again.
We completed our supplies shopping in about 90 minutes and took a taxi on back to the condo.  I hooked up my laptop to the bigscreen TV and brought up Netflix and was surprised that Better Call Saul was available.  Cool.  We really liked Breaking Bad and had been looking forward to this prequel.  Over the next three nights we watched, I think, five episodes.  I was ticked to learn the following week that it’s not available in the USA until next year.  Sheesh.  Anyway at about 9:30 we drifted off  to rest up for tomorrow’s adventures.

I'd much rather have sand in my shorts than snow in my shoes.
#49
crunch
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Re: Cozumel 2015: The Life of Riley on the Purse of a Pauper 2015/08/11 06:47:25 (permalink)
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Loved this installment Bruce and the picture of you and your wife in the kayak is a definite keeper!
#50
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