Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day Six: Cozumel

No one should wake up at 6am on their vacation. For any reason. Especially if that reason involves having fun. We had to be up, dressed, fed, and at the end of the pier by 7:15am to get on a bus for the Jungle Hike of Cozumel. Well, at about 6:30am we woke up and managed to find the Windjammer for breakfast before we ran down for the tour. Boo had a rough night of slumber because he had a bit too much sun in Costa Maya and even the tops of his feet hurt. As I watch him dozing beside me now, he’s finally getting a little rest (or he’s worn out from the day we had).

Our guide drove us out to a working ranch 20 minutes into Cozumel, where he explained some of the history of the island, told us about his bad English (coral and corn snake sound an awful lot alike in a thick Spanglish accent), and directed us to fill out a waiver so that in the event one of us is bitten by one of the aforementioned snakes, falls down a well, or has a heart attack on the 4 mi. hike, his company is free and clear.

We arrived at the ranch with the ATV Jungle Tour people who rode on 4-wheel ATVs through the same area. We originally planned to take that tour, but had a MUCH better time than they did, I think…but about that later. The guides gave us water, a granola bar, and a compass in a backpack for two and we trudged off along a trail where he showed us Mayan ruins and gave us some of the history of the Mayan culture as it related to history, science, and their encounter with explorers from the Old World. Plus, he showed us some of the vegetation and how it was used in the Mayan culture. The seba tree is a tree that can grow for over 1000 years, but to ensure that it grows to that ripe old age, it grows thorns at the base of the tree to prevent critters from climbing up it to do damage. After it reaches 1000 years of age, the thorns disappear as it is a much stronger tree, with roots growing DEEP into the soil and down into the underground rivers flowing beneath the island. See? A vacation can be about learning and junk.

As we hiked, our guide proved to us that the grounds we were on were part of a working ranch by showing us that the trail we were walking on was being shared by the cows on the ranch. Guess what he used as evidence? Let’s just say, the size and the smell of it all said we must’ve followed a very regular herd. Gag. That gets me back to the ATV tour. The ATVs often rode on the same trail that we did. You know what happens to mud and stuff when you ride a bike in the rain? How your pretty white shirt isn’t so white in the back? Imagine riding an ATV with 4 wheels riding through fresh cowpatties. You can do the math. The girls that got all cute for the ride in short shorts and a baby tee could NOT have been happy afterward. Just sayin’.

We finished our hike a couple of hours later and headed back to town. The bus lets us off, of course, right at the souvenir shops of the pier, so we did some quick looking before heading up to the ship and having lunch and a shower. After seeing the beautiful blue waters of Cozumel, Booman had to at least dip his toes in it, so we went back down to see if he could wade in the water a bit and shop a bit. Wading was a no go (who wants to swim in an area where no one else is swimming?), but shopping was ON! I’d forgotten that people come down to Mexico for cheap medicine and some questionable pharmaceuticals. As a shopper yelled across the store for the cost of Viagra and Ambien (taken in which order, I don’t know), we were quickly brought back up to speed. Boo got some cinnamon TicTacs (which for some reason we can’t find in the city of Dallas to save our lives, and I picked up a ghetto Red Bull.) We looked around and after being prepped by shoppng in Costa Maya, managed to haggle for some good prices on the stuff we picked up.

Retail/Tourist Tip number 1: When shopping in a foreign country, don’t play the part of the “Ugly American.” We were ushered into a shop to look at the various crack pipes and cunnilingus decorated Corona bottles next to the onyx carved penises and chess set, when we hear from the back of the store the drunken slur of a 30-something American, shall we say, trailer denizen. Hair in island braids and can of Dos Equus in hand, she’s yelling at her momma to “tell ‘im MAS CHEAPER, Momma! We’re AMERICANS!” I looked over my shoulder to make sure Noah from PNS Explosion wasn’t in the room, because she was doing a perfect version of his drunk Jenna Bush. We left the store so as to not be confused with her as a countryman.

The evening’s entertainment was a musical revue by the ship’s singers and dancers. (*Puts on his black tee shirt like Simon Cowell*) The show was okay…it was a musical revue of great movie songs. They began with vaudeville, then jumped around from period to period. Moulin Rouge to Carmen to A Star is Born (both versions) to The Pink Panther, it was a mash-up of great movie songs. Unfortunately, I now understand what Simon means when he says “it all sounds so cruise shipy.” The show was led by two male and two female singers, one Black and one White. The expectations for each of them were pretty basic: sing the songs at least as well the original, or make a decent attempt. The lead White guy came off very cheesy, with the point and wink at the audience when he sang. The high point for him was his lead on the love song from The Return of the King. He made me cringe, tho, when he sang a Southern blues version of a Ray Charles classic and kept sounding like Greg Brady singing a Blues song. He knew he was miscast for the song, but the show must go on. The lead Black guy had a pretty voice, but was being forced to sing songs that were WAY above him. He, again, sounded like Steve Urkel, not Stephan, trying to sing “Georgia.” He had a little soul, but no grit. The two divas shined, I thought. They had some incredible pipes to mimic (Judy, Barbara, Celine, Julie, etc.) and they did a wonderful job, both emoting, and even when miscast, giving a helluva vocal performance. “Le Jazz Hot” was fun and Mimi, the Black diva sang the hell out of Carmen’s English version of the Men are Dogs song. Boo, ever the critical one regarding Barbara, didn’t enjoy “Look Closely Now” as much as he liked Daphne, the White diva’s “The Man that Got Away.” I wanted to love the show. I did. I love a great singer, but when a really good singer phones it in, or doesn’t give the song enough balls (for lack of a better term), it just sucks the life out of the show.

After the show, we headed out to dinner and ran into Paul and Greg in the lobby, talking to 2 other men. Ever have a feeling that the people you just met smelled a fart and it was you? Yeah…that was lovely. Our interaction lasted less than 5 minutes, where we critiqued the performance of the show that our tablemates had JUST WALKED OUT OF, and it looked like we’d just stabbed their baby in the heart in front of them. From that point on, it seemed like the new couple had no use for us and was judging us wanting. Blow me.

Dinner was lovely, our last formal night together, so we spent the evening taking pictures and guilting our head waiter into giving us more mixed berry bowls, as they looked much better than our choices each evening of desserts. (Who wouldn’t love a chilled bowl of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries covered in fresh whipped cream. Yum!

Tomorrow is another day at sea before we land back in Galveston. Vacation is almost over (BOOOOO!!!!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!).

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