After a belly flop filled day aboard the Empress of the Seas drinking pina colada’s and relaxing in the shade, we arrived in Cozumel. While everyone else in our party set off to a not so private beach to drink, eat, and play in the water, Anthony and I had planned a day of driving around the island in a dune buggy, eating lunch with some Mayans and snorkeling off the coast of the beach…. however, it didn’t go quite like I had planned in my head…
We booked this shore excursion through Viator. We followed the instructions on the paper and walked to the meeting hotel. We checked with the receptionist that it was the right place, which she confirmed it was and said they usually arrive at 10am (we were there at 9:30). We waited around until 10am, no one showed up… we waited around until 10:15, no one showed up… I said let’s give them until 10:30, so we waited some more… no one showed. Finally, Anthony asked if he could use the receptionist’s phone to call the number on our confirmation sheet. She called for us (we don’t speak Spanish, so I’m assuming she thought it would be easier if she called), and the guys said they were on their way.
Another 20 minutes go by and someone finally showed up. He then informs us that they were actually closed for the day and not doing tours. After some debate, the show that I thought was cancelled was back on the road (with a 50% discount to boot). The only other hiccup in our plan was that even though the reviews said if you didn’t know how to drive a stick they’d teach you, he didn’t let us drive and probably would have cancelled if Anthony didn’t say that he didn’t mind the guy driving since it was just the three of us. Harrumph.
The tour was great though. The dune buggy was awesome (and windy as hell), and we drove all the way around the island. After about 30 minutes or so of driving, we stopped at this place called El Pescador, which had food, drinks, and, of course, a beach. The view and the water were gorgeous. It was very relaxing to hang out for a while with a delicious margarita, some guacamole and take in the scenery.
After our chill session we hit the road again, taking in the beautiful coast that we drove down (up? around?…. I don’t really know where we were at that point) until we reached a Mayan village. It was adorable! The houses were so colorful and quaint. We got a tour of one of the houses and learned about some of their traditions (I recognized the Mexican tradition of Dios De Los Muertos … or Day of the Dead… something finally rang a bell after those 8 years of Spanish) and even some Mayan words while a lady made us some tortillas with a bean and tomato topping (yum!).
After walking around the village a bit, we headed back to our starting point, making a full circle, where we could go snorkeling. Like I said in the beginning, I was expecting us go to snorkeling off of the beach or something, but we went snorkeling off of the same water way where our cruise ship was docked. I found that odd and a little disappointing. But it was still cool to see all of the marine life that was hanging out down there. We saw lobsters, sting rays, scorpion fish, and a giant star fish!
Overall, we did have a great day, even if it started out with a few bumps and was a bit different than how I envisioned it. But that’s all part of the travel experience, right?!
The next morning, we woke up in Belize. We had originally scheduled a snorkeling excursion with Royal Caribbean for Belize, however, since we went snorkeling already the day before, I opted to try something different. So I changed our excursion to one that our friends, one of the other couples in our group, were doing. It was a Lamanai jungle river cruise. It was definitely not what I was thinking (I had more of a safari in my head), yet again. But it was awesome. We went about an hour out of the city to a restaurant, which would later serve us an amazing lunch of chicken, rice and beans, veggies and desert (omg!) named Lamanai Landing. From the restaurant we got on a boat…. that ended up being a speed boat! I have never been on a speed boat before so the first time they took that curve around the river bend, I about peed myself. I thought the boat was going to flip for sure. But the captain steered the shit out of that thing and it was really fun once you got used to it. We even got to see a baby crocodile and a bald eagle!
The river took us to a place called Lamanai, which means “submerged crocodile.” Lamina is home to a number of Mayan temples. You can read about it here if you are interested. The temples were breath taking (literally when you walk up them and are out of shape). One of them, the Mask Temple looked like something from “Legends of the Hidden Temple” (is my 90’s showing?). Anthony actually climbed to the tippy top of the High Temple (he said the view was amazing). I unfortunately chickened out, mostly because I have bad knees and one part didn’t have anywhere to hang onto as you’re climbing up or down the steep steps.
We also saw some Monkey’s in the trees sleeping on our hike. I wished they would have come down to play, but I’m not good at monkey calls.
We then took the speedy journey back to the restaurant and finished off our day by making the last ferry out to our tendered cruise ship.
All in all, once again it was not the excursion that I was anticipating, but it was really cool and I’m glad that we got the experience. Belize is beautiful, and I’d love to go back one day and see all of the waterfalls, caves and The Great Blue Hole that our tour guides were talking about (“You have to see it to Belize it!” they would say).
Have you been to Cozumel or Belize? What and where did you explore? Did you have any experiences there that were different than what you were envisioning? Let me know in the comments!
Stayed tuned for Part Three, where I talk about how we got to explore Costa Maya.