My plan for these TBT posts was to go back and recount (in a captivating way) previous international trips, in order. After Italy in 2015, my next trip abroad was Cozumel, Mexico. I debated skipping over this one because 1. It’s the only international trip I did not go on alone, and 2. All-inclusive-resort traveling doesn’t bode as well for storytelling. But then I thought, even if I was stuffing my face with unlimited snacks and sugary drinks for most of the trip, I still made sure to try new things and create some sense of adventure from within the confines of the resort. So I won’t leave out Cozumel.
December 2015 🇲🇽
Stepping into the humid, tropical climate of the island of Cozumel, located off the Yucatán peninsula, was more than welcome after leaving Wisconsin at Christmastime. Even though I sweat like crazy, I love the heat and don’t mind the humidity (thanks, non-frizzy hair). Looking out from the balcony in our room, seeing the sparkling pools with the ocean as a backdrop, I thought to myself, “Yep. Finally, a true vacation.” A majority of the trips I’ve taken around the US over the years have revolved around big cities. Because I love cities. But that also means vacations involve less relaxation and more speed-walking through concrete surroundings. So I was definitely stoked for some beach time.
I will skip over the typical beach holiday descriptions of this trip because you probably get the idea: beach lounging, turquoise waves rolling in, seagulls squawking, fruity drinks, naps in the sun. All of that.
Being a lover of activities, I also filled my days with some options offered by the hotel. I did “stretching class,” basically yoga for beginners, led by Angel, and got slightly weirded out every time he gave each of us an over-the-towel back massage at the end of class. Therapeutic yet semi-painful, and definitely odd. I did water aerobics mid-day with Maria, hopping around in the pool with senior citizens and families, following along with the instructions to hold hands in a circle and float a partner around in the water, supporting their shoulders. (For unclear reasons, but I’ll try (almost) anything once.)
I regret not venturing out of the resort more, but it was a true beach vacation, and it wasn’t my solo trip to do whatever I wanted. Relaxing was good, too. I did leave the resort to go on a bike tour led by another staff member, which made me happy to see the tropical plants as we whizzed down the path. My favorite part of group tours is quizzing the guides–about our location, about their journeys to get to their positions, and what they like and don’t like about their jobs and the area. The guide talked to me about how Cozumel is like ‘old school’ Mexico; its society hasn’t caught up in a lot of modern ways, which we agreed was pretty cool. The faded paint on buildings, lack of anything commercialized or chain-store-like, and the crumbling letters on signs of locally owned businesses made it really feel like we were decades in the past. I can imagine this is only a tiny, tiny taste of what traveling through Cuba would feel like (at least if I hurry and get there before it gets Americanized).
Like typical tourists, snorkeling was also part of the trip. Since it was my first time, I was super excited. I struggled for a bit to get the breathing part down, without inhaling lots of saltwater, but I finally got myself together and saw lovely yellow fish, a couple manta rays, and some big blue fish. We dropped fish food down at one point, and I managed to silence any Jaws-induced fears while being surrounded by sea creatures, surviving with just some blisters from tight fins.
The last detail I’ve yet to include is the story I will be recycling anytime I’m asked in a group to share an embarrassing story. So, spoiler alert! The first morning in Cozumel, I naturally awoke early AF to “do all the things!” and was keen to swim some laps for my triathlon training in the ocean. This’ll be so awesome! I thought, skipping down the pier after a hotel worker pointed out where the Ironman athletes swam. I jumped in, elated by the sensation of floating as I swam freestyle, feeling free in a sea of translucent teal. When I’d tired myself out, I swam to shore on the opposite end, thinking, naturally, that’s where I should exit the water instead of trying to hoist myself onto the ladder-less pier. Instead, the forceful coastal waves washed me onto the shore like a beached whale–not onto sand, but onto sharp rocks. More embarrassing than scraping up my ankle and multiple toes was my attempt to stand up on wobbly sea legs, stumble over the rest of the rocks to the sand, and then drag my bleeding feet, leaving a red trail, all the way back to the room without scaring any small children.
Fortunately, stinging saltwater in my wounds for the remaining few days didn’t detract from enjoying the aforementioned activities, plus the sunset I became addicted to each evening, photographing its movements second by second like I was the G.D. sunset paparazzi.
I don’t know if I’ve succeeded in convincing anyone to visit Cozumel after this assortment of strange stories… It’s definitely worth experiencing, though, so hopefully these pictures will be more persuasive. 🙂