Cozumel: Segways and Snorkelling
The first tour we book in Cozumel is a Segway and Snorkel tour. Since our first segway experience in Mauritius, Brodie has been keen to get back on one again. We had booked an early slot, but our tour time has changed – obviously to facilitate one of the many cruise ships that are now docked at different ports. It’s going to be a good day for tourist income on the island! This later time actually suits us, but highlights how dependent the island is on the regular influxes of cash-laden tourists. Every activity is geared to suit the ship schedules. The holy grail for a tour operator is to get added to the activity list on one of the ships and watch the money roll in. When no ships are in port, many streets are completely deserted. You can tell that there’s at least one lurking about somewhere when the main square is busy and music is pumping out of the clubs. Small shops stay open late into the night hoping to profit. All the storefronts along the shore, or close to the main square, peddle an odd mix of items designed to appeal to the average American tourists they can expect to see visiting for a few short hours. The market ranges from high end shops, to cheap flea markets – all in close proximity to the cruise piers. The glut of ‘silver shops’ are generally guarded with at least one machine-gun-wielding security guard lurking outside, or just across the street. It doesn’t look like they expect to see a lot of action, but it seems to be a prerequisite to prove you’re a serious upmarket place. There’s also a mix of Tequila and Cuban cigar shops. And let’s not forget the shops hawking nothing but Texan boots for the discerning customer. Few electronic devices feature in the stores, but watches, jewellery and perfumes are popular too.
Our tour meeting point brings us further south to the biggest pier, where the towering bulk of a Royal Carribean cruise ship waits, a steady stream of occupants spilling out onto the streets to spend some cash on having a good time. Today a group of them are joining us on our excursion. We pile into a bus with our guide and travel a short distance down the road to a centre where a pile of Segways lie out in rows under the sun. During a short toilet break we witness a show of the Flying Men dance which is a regular occurrence in these parts. The usual intro and demo of how the Segways function is given, and then the group are individually assisted with mounting the beasts for a trial spin. We circle around repeatedly until even the most unstable person has gained enough confidence to start feeling bored. We are sternly told throughout the excursion that any mounting or dismounting is to be done with assistance. There are to be no high jinks or anything more complicated than a bunch of people travelling single file, right hand side – or the culprits get banned from the Segways and put in the truck! This makes good sense as we’re about to take to the roads with actual traffic careering past at any time. It’s a far cry from our Mauritius Segway Safari though, where the Segways were bigger and heavier, and the terrain was varied with various forms of wildlife and rocks/ditches to navigate. There anything went… one of the guys would just come along and pick you up again if your misadventure involved being unable to get mobile again for too long. In Cozumel, once the group is ready to go our bags are loaded into an open back truck which follows along behind us, furiously tooting its horn as advance warning of any overtaking traffic approaching from the rear.
We sedately stay in line while the group trundles along the coast road heading further south. We pass by numerous hotels and clubs, all overlooking clear blue skies and calm seas of cobalt and turquoise waters. After about 30 minutes we reach a small beach club where we have 75 minutes to avail of the facilities. Most people obtain snorkelling gear from our guides and head for the water. The reefs around Cozumel have a good reputation. The waters are crystal clear and our masks are in good condition, so visibility is excellent. The variety of fish is limited, but there’s definitely plenty to see close to shore. The water is luke warm and inviting. A nice change for anyone used to the grim Irish waters. Added bonus – fresh water showers afterwards to wash that nasty salty layer from your skin before embarking on the return Segway journey which goes by a little faster. It’s a nice way to spend a day, and a great way to see a bit of the coast.
We decide to walk the 5.5 kilometres back to ‘home’. It’s a fair distance, but there are plenty of beach clubs dotted along the coast to take advantage of the visiting cruise hordes. We stop off for cocktails and french fries overlooking the water. At the next pier Brodie can’t resist the lure of Starbucks, so we both get a caffeine fix to keep us going through downtown San Miguel, and out to our pink Casa. For dinner we make the wise decision to return to Del Sur Argentina Empanadas and try their grilled fish – best fish I’ve ever had. Lightly seasoned and perfectly cooked. Along with more delicious empanadas. Can’t recommend the place highly enough. A wonderful way to end your day. Tomorrow we’re back to the beautiful waters for some sailing and more snorkelling. It’s our last day in Cozumel before we move on to see another side of Mexico.