Well, here it is: the final installment. I can't believe I actually finished it...Day 10 & 11 – Vamos A Salir
Packing for the return trip is infinitely more difficult than packing to leave. No, that’s not quite right. It’s just the other side of the coin. Packing to go is full of anticipation and excitement. Packing to return is full of distraction. You may be thinking about how to squeeze one more day in, or what kind of excuse you can give to your boss for not getting back to work on schedule, or perhaps even whether or not you could make some sort of more permanent change of venue. Regardless of the degree, everyone just wants to stay and we were no different.
Checkout time at the condo is 10am and since there were people scheduled to arrive on the same day we left, we knew that we would need to leave on schedule. This was especially difficult because our flight out was not until 3:30. That meant we had to pack the night before in order to have any time at all in the water on Sunday morning. So, yes, the picture above is actually from Saturday night.
We got up very early and had leftovers for breakfast. Then we headed right down to the beach for our final snorkel. All of our friends came out to say goodbye too. The squid sent a smaller contingent of five to represent the whole family for the occasion. Along with the usual suspects that last morning, I also saw several filefish, numerous rays, and a fierce looking barracuda at least 28” long.
I just remembered something that happened at some point earlier in the week. Not sure which day it was but while I was snorkeling I found a startfish that had very beautiful greenish coloration so I scooped it up to carry it over to a spot where I knew I could find it again. I wanted to show it to Brenda and she was up at the palapa. On the way, I saw another that was the same size but more of a subdued brown. I thought it made a nice contrast for a picture (that never got taken, darnit). So I snagged it as well, placed the two of them belly to belly and swam toward the spot I wanted. I hadn’t gone far when I noticed that they were fighting. Interesting. Out of the slits on the underside of each arm, they would extend their little suction cupped ¾” fingers. Maybe they were embracing or maybe they were fighting. I have no idea. Wish I’d had the GoPro that I just bought two weeks after our return. I shifted to only flipper power and gently eased them apart from each other. Note to self: Don’t do that again. (but it WAS fascinating.) I got to where I was headed and set them in a deeper channel. By the time I had one up to get Brenda and got back, one of them had maneuvered up out of the channel and the other one was hot on his (her?) heels. An extremist view would be to never touch anything in the reef. At the other extreme are jerks that trample coral and cause a lot of damage. I fall somewhere in the middle with a “Do no harm” motto. We watched the chase for a little while then I took them back to where I found them one at a time.
Back to our last day: We eventually got out of the water and walked the beach a little bit. Then, when we could put off the inevitable no more, we headed up to shower and change for our day of travel. Boo-hoo.
We called the front gate for a taxi almost exactly at 10 (no sign yet of the housekeeper) and said our final farewells to Palati Mou.
Yes, they name their condos in Cozumel.
We made great time getting to the airport and it’s a good thing. We got there by a little before 11 and the United check-in line was quite long. It took us half an hour to get through it which only left about four hours to wait for our flight. I sure hate cutting it so close. Seriously, I wish I could have come up with a good idea on how to spend that time other than hanging out at the airport. Actually, we checked in so early that our luggage went on an earlier flight than ours. By the time I figured out there WAS an earlier flight and inquired about getting seats on it, the gate agent said it was too late; they were already boarding the plane. It’s all good though. Did some shopping, some people watching, met a young couple who told us all about their whale shark expedition they just had.
It was so incredibly sad to have to leave our little slice of paradise. It was a bittersweet moment when they called our flight. The wait was finally over but so was our time on Cozumel.
It’s ok though, now we get to start planning our next trip.
Brenda is still not used to walking across the tarmac to get on a plane. It just seems so retro. That's her about half way up the stairs...
We took off almost as soon as the door was shut; not a whole lot of planes jockeying for position on the island. As we ascended I took this picture of the island’s incredible blue water.
Then, moments later, the aircraft banked to the right and the other side of the channel came into view. It’s still beautiful, and I would trade almost anything to call it home, but it was also startling to see the size of the sargassum mats that were rolling in, making their way in to spoil the pristine beaches of the RM.
I took a couple of pictures but they don’t translate the scene very well. The sargassum was in long – VERY long – mats that were 20 – 30 feet wide and miles long, stretching beyond what I could see through the the tiny window.. I will post the pictures here even though they’re my least favorite.
That’s probably what we have been seeing wash ashore in front of Lol Ha over the past several weeks. Damn depressing but that’s nature. I settled back to try and catch up on some sleep during the flight back to the USA.
Arrival in Houston carried with it the obligitory herding process through immigration and customs. I’ve done some international travel – not a lot but some – and I have to agree with other passengers whom I overheard as saying that Houston has the worst international entry point ever experienced in the US. What once was a two stage process was turned into a three stage process through the addition of those stupid kiosks. All the kiosks do is render as moot the effort of filling out the customs form on the plane in advance. Bottom line is that there were just too many people for their facility. Poor management. In my opinion, an international terminal should be designed to scale people handling and plane gates congruently. Houston doesn’t. Period. It took about two and a half hours to process through. Ugh.
The cheap flight Brenda found was probably cheap partially due to the overnight layover in Houston. This was a bonus for us because my brother and his wife live in Houston and we rarely get to see them. I had arranged to have them pick us up at George Bush airport, spend the evening and the next morning together then drop us back at Bush for our early afternoon flight. Rick & Elizabeth also love Coz and have been there numerous times. Their entire house is decorated in an ocean motif and they really loved sharing our stories.
Hopefully they will be able to join us on a future trip.
The final leg of our journey was a fun one. Rick had to work so Elizabeth took us to the airport. I told her Terminal B and she missed it, taking us to Terminal C instead. Then realizing her mistake insisted on backtracking to terminal B (a long trip). It turns out we needed to be at Terminal C and ended up walking all the way back. Sheesh, but don’t tell Elizabeth. ;)
The only irritating thing is that we forgot about a large bottle of raw honey in our carryon which was confiscated and thrown in the trash. Stupid TSA rules.
When we boarded our flight back in Houston, another passenger got all excited when she saw the shirt I was wearing. (She (Alex) is the one in the next picture that is turned around backwards in her seat) You may have seen it in other pictures – it is dark gray with green lettering that reads, “You say RELENTLESS like it is a bad thing?” My daughter is a psychological therapist at QLI – an internationally recognized brain and spinal trauma cernter. The relentless T-shirts are their brand. I took it in the hopes that it would be recognized somewhere, and it was!
Leaving Houston was not the cake walk as leaving Cozumel was. There are numerous runways and the one we were using was the United runway primarily. Still, our flight had to join a queue and wait for a turn to use it.
The flight home was really smooth. It was easy to tell that we were in the midwest again when, as the plane began to descend, the earth below with its roads and highways resembled a colored in sheet of graph paper. My youngest daughter and her friend were at the airport waiting for us when we landed. It was great to be home, but I am already chomping at the bit in anticipation of our next trip to paradise.
post edited by OmahaBruce - 2015/08/21 16:19:16