Okay, so, I definitely slacked during the rest of our vacation and I’ll have to write the rest of this from memory. Luckily, I took exactly eight gazillion, seventy trillion sixteen photographs, so I have quite a few visual cues to jog my memory J
Cozumel is a little island off the coast of Mexico and, according to our guides, has no infrastructure. No factories, no industries, no farms, nothing but the tourist industry. We didn’t dock until 10 AM, later than any of the other ports, but also didn’t leave until 6:15 PM so it all worked out. It also had a very wide, nice dock (apparently they had a very bad hurricane a few years ago that wiped out the old one) so disembarking was relatively painless. The only real difficulty was to keep from hitting ceilings and walls, as I was SO EXCITED FOR THE HORSIES that I could hardly stay earthbound.
The meeting place for the horsies was just off the piers; we signed in and then I went off looking for water. The drugstore across the plaza seemed like a good bet so I wandered over and bought water there. I also considered buying Levitra, Viagra, Lamisil, diet pills and injectable testosterone, but we really didn’t need any of that, thank you very much. The waiting place for the horsies was right next to the waiting place for the Swim and Snorkle with Stingrays adventure; unlike us, they had to sign all sorts of waivers. The family next to us caught our attention when they stopped the form-guy to ask, “How deep is the water? We can’t swim, by the way, is that a problem?” Our heads snapped around in a double-take and quickly back, but that one caught us aback. If half the name of the freaking excursion involves the word “swim” and you CAN’T SWIM, don’t you think maybe, MAYBE you should go shopping instead? MAYBE?
The bus ride to the horsie ranch took about a half hour. The guides amused us on the way there by telling us a bit about themselves, and about the ranch, in PERFECT Speedy Gonzalez accents. It’s so awful to say, but I’m not joking, they sounded EXACTLY like the Looney Tunes character, and I’m pretty sure they knew it. After all, if it’s a tourist trap, don’t you think they make more money sounding like a famous cartoon mouse from Mexico? That’s my assumption, because they actually would yell “Epa! Epa! Andale!” and watch us giggle helplessly. The first guide assured our group that, luckily for us, the bus driver had promised not to drink any tequila today, and then told us all about the bus driver: his nickname was Ricky Martin because he lived La Vida Loca, he had five wives, ten kids, and six boyfriends. At this point the bus driver started waving his arm in protest, and the first guide (can’t remember his name, dammit!) leaned over, and then announced it was actually SIX boyfriends. Actually (explained first guide), the bus driver was his brother-in-law. Because he liked First Guide’s brother, a LOT.
We pulled up at the ranch and dropped our bags, then hit the restrooms before we went off on the horsies. And OH DEAR MY GOD, EWWWW. The Ladies (Damas) room had 1) tons of flies, 2) a SERIOUS stench of . . . well, um, not being cleaned all that often, how’s that?, 3) only a trickle of running water. The third part, the lack of good running water, would not have been that important, if I hadn’t been whimpering from using the toilet; the stall sign helpfully informed us that the sewage system would not accommodate paper of any kind, so kindly put ALL TOILET PAPER IN THE BIN NEXT TO THE TOILET. EW EW EW EW. (Apparently my father encountered the same thing in Greece. EW EW EW EW EW.)
Blech. Moving on.
The second guide was the guide for our group, so HIS nickname I can remember – Chico. Although this guy was anything but; in fact, I’m rather sure he stopped at that drug store for Testosterone Injectivo ;-) He asked around for riding experience (almost everyone was a beginner) then mounted a horse and gave us a quick demonstration of how to start, stop, turn left, turn right, mount, dismount. He then picked someone from the crowd to use that horse for the day, and settled on . . .ME. YAY!!!! I’m sure it was because I looked so excited and was so earnestly paying attention, but I mounted with no problem and sat there grinning like a fool. (Horsie’s name was Malinche, and while she had a habit of grumpily chewing her bit, she obeyed instructions quite well all afternoon. Mike’s was named Benito, and much more stubborn about obeying his cues, but they got along okay.) I tooled around for a while, taking her up and down the corral, letting her eat plants for a while (“Ay, don’t let the horses eat the hashish!” shouted Chico), etc., while everyone else mounted, and then we moved out. Um, without waiver forms. Or helmets. That last part was more surprising . . . because as we were getting matched with horses, another group came in, ALL wearing helmets. Maybe they paid more?
The excursion was billed as a ride through the jungle to see some Mayan ruins. While we DID see some rocks and caves, I think it’s just as likely that the statues were built to be tourist traps, rather than the story Chico gave us. As he explained it, they had a really bad hurricane back in ’85, and the big boss said to open all the corrals and let the animals find their own way to higher ground. Once the storm was over, the big boss told everyone to go into the jungle to find them. The storm had destroyed all the trails – huge trees down everywhere – so the big boss told them to take machetes and carve out new paths. Once they did – omigod, SURPRISE! – they came across these old Mayan ruins, wow!! Mmhmm. As I said, I took pictures, but we were really more interested in the fact that WE WERE RIDING HORSIES.
Three notes of interest: 1) iguanas are everywhere; Chico referred to them as “Mexican squirrels” ; 2) of course, Chico also referred to Kahlua as “Mexican Diet Coke” ; 3) if we wanted to, they let us take the horses to a full gallop. Did I mention no helmets? They had a large sign posted which read, “ALL GALLOPING IS DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK,” so perhaps that sufficed? Only the three expert riders tried it, and one of those girls nearly fell off. Go figure.
We came back to the Cantina and had the offer of Coronitas, a few other beers, tequila etc., then hopped back on the bus. On our ride back, the First Guide (I think maybe I’ll just refer to him as Speedy) asked if anyone wanted Coronas; perhaps ten people raised their hands. Speedy then explained gravely that he had bad news, and good news. “The bad news is that it’s illegal to drink on this road. It’s a highway and like you got laws in the United States, we got laws here, and the police will stop you and you get in trouble, so we’re not allowed to drink on this highway.” Long pause. “Now here’s the good news . . . you’re in MEXICO! We don’t pay attention to no rules here!” He let the laughter die down, then continued: “Now, I can’t give these to you for free, I gotta charge you two dollars, so it’s not free like at the Cantina, but hey, you buy a Corona in town, they gonna charge you four dollars, you know? But I gotta charge you two dollars, cause if the policeman stop us, I have to share the money with him!”
We made it back to the pier without incident and then took a cab to downtown. We stopped at a restaurant marked on our Shopping Map for lunch, which was both good and affordable. A few notes from lunch:
– I immediately made a beeline for the bathroom. They had running water, but the same deal with toilet paper. *whimper* I took a pic of that sign, I’ll post it later J They did have running water though, yay!
– They don’t give you water, but since we didn’t really trust the water that wasn’t a problem. Except, they do give you fresh chips and salsa, and the salsa has BIG FAT SLICES (not diced bits, SLICES) of jalapenos that you may not see until your mouth bursts into flames. We both speak from experience.
– The food prices were in pesos but they just had the regular dollar sign. I admit I did a double-take when I saw the food sampler listed at $360.
– Thank you Miss Pinkney, I actually do remember how to ask for the check. And ask how much things cost, and tell someone I don’t want whatever they’re offering, and say something is too expensive, and a few other things. We actually managed pretty well.
We then wandered around downtown for a while – we bought beers to drink, in bottles, as we wandered down the street, which amused me – before heading back to the pier, and back on the boat. Mexico was pretty, and fun, and interesting, although hot as hell, but really what was important about Mexico were HORSIES.
We were pretty exhausted the rest of the night; I remember that I had Black Angus Sirloin with herb butter for dinner, while Mike had Mahi Mahi, and that we went down to the cigar bar and finished off what was left of Mike’s cigar, but then we crashed, hard-core. Oh, and that I took a VERY HOT shower while scrubbing feverishly to make sure I’d washed off all potential horse-muck or toilet germs. *shudder*
I’ll try to post the last boat-day later tonight, along with the fun we had in clearing customs, but this should do for now. HORSIES HORSIES HORSIES!!!! J