24 February 2018

Swimmin' With The Fishies!


We weren't sure if we'd even get away!



We had intended on being away for the whole winter once again, but (as was the case, with our winter of 2015 plans) ... things got overly complicated!


A townhouse we are having built has been delayed by about 7 months now. We should have been moved in by August of 2017; unfortunately, we're now looking at mid-March 2018. We had also hoped to be away for 2-3 weeks but, now we're down to only one. We'll be joined by Heather & Randy but, unfortunately will miss our American friends Janet & Andy who will be there ' just a few days after us ' and Mark and Reese whom it seems, we will now ' miss by just a few weeks ' ... SIGH!


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This first view is from our our rental apartments' deck in Bath ON ... it was easy to leave! 

A 3 hour drive to Toronto, then a 4 hour flight, almost due south to Cozumel MEXICO and the next view ... it will NOT be easy to leave! 











HOTEL COZUMEL


We really only have full days here this time, so the trip will be mostly about relaxing with probably only a few dives mixed in. There is an older, smaller and quieter crowd this year; it's much more pleasant. We missed coming last year and there have been several very positive changes made ... an expanded restaurant at the waterfront that's now also open for breakfast, additional covered areas at the pool, some new seating, a renovated stage area, and the paint has been freshened up in many places. The food preparations and presentations, the quality of ingredients and the overall variety have also improved, at all meals.




DIVING and SNORKELING


Randy and I did one shore checkout dive. We've always been happy with the shore staff, instructors, boat operators and dive masters at Dive Paradise. This year was no exception.

A Gear Note 
I have been getting cold consistently, part way through my first dives; so decided to try my new 7 mm Scuba Pro full-body suit, instead of layering with a lycra suit, farmer john and a shorty. That combination is probably the equivalent of 5 mm around my core. Unfortunately, the check-out dive with the 7 mm was a failure. The suit was so buoyant that I needed 31 pounds to descend and even then, needed to fight to stay down. With my old layering I was down to 12 pounds ... that's a 19 pound difference! Bottom temperatures here, at this time of year are around 80 - 82 F. The 7 mm was certainly warm ... but, I think I'll save it for Lake Ontario.


It's about the Diving ...

The next day we did a two tank dive on fast-boat Sonidor with Captain Smiley and Divemaster MathieuCedral Wall at 90' and Palancar Pass at 65'; both sites always have great wildlife viewing and nice coral formations; there are swim thru's and a nice wall. Good visibility on both boat dives, not much current to fight, but some heavy chop after our ascent from the first dive.

We saw ... barracuda (a school of 25 - 30), hawk-bill turtles (one quite large and tagged), one BIG grouper, several lobster, a small eagle ray, sting ray and an 8' moray eel. 

We weren't carrying underwater cameras this trip, so here's someone else's video ...







Palancar Horseshoe and Yucab on board Cascubal. Another two tank day, with dives to 91' / 51 min and 54' / 58 min. Dive Paradise has hired several new divemasters and boat crews since Apple (Renee Applegate) passed away recently. I did not recognize today's' crew. 









Hotel Cozumel Shoreline ... there is a large ocean pool right at shoreline that provides safe and easy access to deeper water. Some nearby boat traffic to avoid for snorkelers. We saw ... one very large starfish, a spotted moray and sea cucumbers and many of the small fishes.




It's about the Food and  the Music ...


SAN MIGUEL RESTAURANTS


A fabulous meal at Chardonnay. This is a small family run restaurant located on a back street in San Miguel. We made meals of caprese salad, mixed fish ceviche, shrimp cocktail, coconut and grilled shrimp ... friendly service, all ingredients were fresh, well-prepared and seasoned, the portions were good and the prices reasonable ... look at the size of that ceviche!
Heard some great music at Woody's one evening; downtown San Miguel near the town centre. The evening we were there, featured a local, talented guitar player that selected acoustic and electric instruments and played a wide variety of favourite tunes that covered genres ranging from country and western to jazz, blues and classical. Later in the evening, he was joined by a female vocalist with a range well suited to tunes by Van Morrison, Diana Krall and Joan Armatrading. Just had snacks ...




It's about the Friendship ...






Dinner at Rock n' Java Carribean Bar & Grill with Mexican friends Paulina, Leon and Israel ' PADI Instructor and Dive Master Extraordinairio '. Rock n' Java is known for their burgers and tacos ... we weren't disappointed.







Casa Mission is a favourite from past trips to Cozumel.  We all took the opportunity to enjoy one last meal of authentic Mexican cooking ... traditional dishes of ceviche, black bean soup, coconut and grilled shrimp, gallo-pinto, salsas, habanero sauces, guacamole








ISLAND DRIVE

A repeat jeep trip. Condos, cruise ships, congestion and harbours on the west side ... abandoned beaches and iguanas to the east.
























Crusty ... ' Swimmin' with the Fishies '

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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty