Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cruise Journal: 12/12/2007

Ashore in Cozumel

It was raining as we docked. It rained off and on all day. The shopping center at the end of the pier was expensive, but clean. We found a shop where I could buy a diet coke, some batteries, and an elastic bandage (think Ace bandage, only white and not Ace). See, I’ve hurt my foot. Not in any dramatic accident that will at least provide me with an exciting story. Just the old complaint returning at an unexpected time. I tooled all over Glacier National Park without having any trouble, but one day walking around Progresso and Mérida, and my right foot is done in. I’ve never had this plantar fasciitis as bad as it is right now. Not only is my foot sore right in front of my heel, my arch is swollen a little, and all the inside of my foot is tender when I touch it. Advil makes it better, and slowly it seems to be mending. I really hope it doesn’t give me too much trouble on the ONE excursion I’m taking tomorrow to some Mayan ruins in Belize.

At any rate, I tried to minimize the walking in Cozumel today. In spite of the clouds and rain, Mom and I grabbed a cab down to one of the Paradise Beach Club. Here’s how the beaches work here. They’re all government owned, so they’re all free. It’s the chairs, umbrellas, restrooms, and showers that cost money. But what you do is you go to a beach club like the San Francisco or the Paradise, get a drink, and plop down in a chair. For the price of a fairly expensive but not ridiculously priced drink, or two, you can use the showers, chaises lounges, whatever. And swim in the gorgeous water, if it’s not too cold for you. With the overcast sky and the drizzle, it was a bit to cold for me. I have to be pretty warm before I want to dip myself in chilly water.

We stayed only about an hour. Then we came back into town to the shopping center. Mom was certain there was a large liquor store in the shopping center, in spite of the fact that we walked the entire center, didn’t see any large liquor stores, and where she thought it must be was closed for renovations.

“It’s right there, it must be right there.”

“That’s closed, Mom. There was the little one I saw.”

“I don’t want to go to the little one. I want to go to that big one I went to before. It’s right there, that must be it.”

“That’s closed for renovations, Mom.”

“Well the taxi driver said there was a big one here.”

“No, he said there were four little ones.”

“No, the other taxi driver.”

“The store he was talking about is the supermarket we passed. I saw it when we went by. He said it was two blocks that way.”

“Well there’s a big one right near here. It’s right there, let’s go over there.”

“MOM, that’s CLOSED.”

Dios mio.

And she kept asking everyone who looked native where she could buy liquor. Do you know what it’s like to wander around a city with a woman who insists on sounding like a lush? Many of them didn’t understand the word, “liquor” either, apparently. Or alcohol, which doesn’t make sense. You’d think it would be close enough to “alcool.” Oh well. So I’d pipe up from behind her, “Tequila, vodka. Para comprar tequila y vodka.” I figure they can’t mistake “tequila” or “vodka.”

We met up with some of our group in Carlos and Charlie’s. Surprisingly enough, this is not my kind of place. Everyone my age and most of the people twice my age were pretty wasted, and there was a periodic conga line for free tequila, squirted directly into the mouth of passing patrons. The music was loud, the lights were flashing, and all I could think was, great, there are at least five huge cruise ships in that port, and every mindlessly drunk American in town is within 300 feet of me. Yay. Made it out of there eventually, and came back to the ship to sit and rest my foot. I’m typing this now from the 9th deck, where there’s a coffee bar, a library, the computer center, and a craft class making bandanas with beaded fringe. It’s terribly fun. If I’d brought my sister’s camera up instead of just her card, I could take a lovely photo of a parasailor with a red checkered canvas against the grey sky and grey water.

The water here is a gorgeous blue, right next to the ship. Just amazing. But with the clouds, as I look across the water right now, it’s a steely color. I suspect the shore I can see across the way is Playa del Carmen. It doesn’t look very tropical, but it does look very restful. Argh, I wish I had my camera. This parasailor is taunting me. This is what I hate about taking a camera at all. It makes me discontent to just see and absorb. I must capture digitally, and no one will ever really want to see it anyway, and I’ll never look at it again. So screw it. I’m just going to stop typing and start absorbing some more. One of the ladies beading across the table with me is from Bulverde, close to home. Small world.


The craft class has left, and now I seem to be sitting in a trivia game. I think I’ll answer the questions and see how I do.

1. blue whale – world’s largest mammal - right

2. whale shark – world’s largest shark - right

3. sperm whale – what kind of whale was moby dick - right

4. ants – giant insects in “Them” - right

5. African – larger elephant (African or Indian) – guessed… right

6. true – male penguins care for young while females hunt for food – guessed… right

7. moose – Canada’s national animal – guessed right, but changed it! The beaver!

8. desert storm – desert shield became this in 1991 - right

9. 31 – days in months with religious importance to Caesar – guessed… right

10. wine – four letter word for fermented grape juice - right (duh)

11. Amsterdam – first European city to have street lights – guessed… wrong. Paris

12. baseball – team sport contributing most words and phrases to everyday English – right

13. pyramid at giza – only ancient 7 wonder still standing - right

14. Toronto – capital of Canada – wrong. I knew that, though. Ottowa

15. pink – color of yak’s milk – wrong. blue! Huh!

16. 12 – people fed from ostrich egg according to joy of cooking – wrong. 24!

17. Minnie Pearl - $1.98 price tag hanging from straw hat - right

18. brown – what color was coca-cola originally – green! Ew!

19. Les Miserables – longest running broadway musical – phantom of the opera. Huh.

20. California, New Mexico – largest producers of carrots – CA and TX, I was half right!

Okay, I guessed on a lot of those, but I got 12 right. The couple behind me got 13. I’d have come in second. Hah!


I am really not a patient person. And I’m a language snob. These are not endearing qualities. I’m tired of hearing people mispronounce things. Repeatedly. And I hate to sound like a pedant and always be correcting them. And my impatience with the hard of hearing doesn’t bode well for when I start losing my own hearing. I’m going to be pretty darn grouchy about it, I imagine.

And my impatience with people who have to talk about all the things they disapprove of over and over and over. Look, I don’t want to sandwich dance in a club, EVER. My personal space envelope around strangers is humongous, and I lack so much dignity in other areas that I have to preserve what I can. But you know what, if another young woman likes it, hey, Cozumel’s Carlos and Charlie’s is as good a place as any for her to indulge, and do I really have to hear about it before dinner, and again during dinner. Yes, there was dirty dancing in the club. No, I don’t care for it. But it happens. People enjoy it. Different… er… strokes. I would have gotten up and left, if Mom had wanted. I was only waiting for her. I saw things that embarrassed me. I have not and will not recount them at the dinner table, or here. But Mom's offended sensibilities don't seem to be stopping her.

So instead of going to the show, I’ve decided to come back to the room, order a glass of wine, and just chill. I need it. I hate being so impatient, but I don’t do well with crowds, and this vacation would be a lot more relaxing if I could just be by myself a lot more. I’ve said it before, but I just don’t like seeing the world with the words “American Tourist” branded on my forehead.

I’ve got my glass of wine and ginger ale now. Don’t worry, the Riesling was the cheapest wine on the menu, and I’m not ruining it in the least. I’m going to type up some notes so I don’t have to do all this when I get back. Chilling starting now.


The water here seems different somehow. I don’t know why, but it’s lighter, softer. The boat moves through it and it slides and hisses like a light silk, frothing into a dazzling foam that fizzles out almost immediately. This is very different even from the blue water we had the first full day at sea, on the way to Progresso. It’s worlds away from the heavy, turbid ship channel water. I walk to the aft deck to watch our wake. I look up into the sky, and see the stars glimmering through the clouds. It’s lonely, and for the first time, here in the dark, I feel afraid of the cold, dark water below. I walk fast back to the door into the ship, to the light and warmth of a human world, apart from the awful, unfeeling beauty of the swirling blackness that surrounds and supports us. This is the definition of the sublime.

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