The first order of business while heading south along Quintana Roo C1, was to gawk at the cruise ships. They truly are a marvel. I’m not a cruise guy myself, but they sure are something to look at. The downside to cruise ships of course, if you’re staying in the vicinity of a port area, is that as soon as they dock and the hordes of cruisers come ashore all lathered in suntan lotion, sporting straw hats and dark sunglasses in Hawaiian shirts and khaki shorts, clicking everything that moves with their Nikons (yep, I’ve been known to don this veneer myself…too often in fact), the prices in all the shops tend to triple.
After we had passed the international port area, the landscape quickly settled into its natural fauna of Thatch and Queen Palm trees, hibiscus and morning glory. There is plenty of it to see on this stretch heading south (more south west really) and it is stunning. It would have been quite easy to wind the throttle open and carry on at a blistering 30 km/h…lost to the notion there was not a whole lot to see through this area. There were just trees and ferns on the left, entrances to resorts and attractions on the right, most of those behind a wall of fauna of their own. Yet I forced myself to slow the scootie down (not that we were burning up the tarmac at 30 km) determined to teach B-Rad the importance of living in the moment. Determined to see, hear and smell everything that was offered here, soon enough, we were rewarded. There was a local challenging us for road position. We yielded and took pictures; after all, this is HIS home.
Soon after we passed the cut off for El Cedral (another worthwhile place to visit), we swung south east and crossed the bottom end of the island. This was another ribbon of open road that surrounded us with lush green jungle and after a spell the road twisted north again, traversing up the east coast. The vegetation on our right hand side was getting sparse, you could smell the sea. Then, during the first real break in jungle canopy, I felt B-Rad draw a deep breath and he held it. After a moment there was a long exhale. “Dad” he said “we are in paradise”. The east coast of Cozumel was exposed to us as the trees and ferns gave way to deserted, wild and untamed beaches. Nor a single soul in sight, the ivory sand being caressed by transparent turquoise water, the tips of the breaking waves twinkling in the sun. Jade and copper beach grass swaying in the salted breeze. I don’t mean to sound like I work for Mexico Tourism. I am honestly not on commission, it just is what it is. We rode on in silence for a while, trying to get a handle on the sensory overload. Finally he asked, “Can we stop Dad…swim?” YEAH BUDDY!!…why the hell had I not already pulled over? I stopped immediately. It doesn’t matter where, the entire coast is beach and open for the taking. We dismounted, slid down the shallow dune, and SPLASH!
After a playful father/son romp that involved a ballyhoo of water launching, sand kicking and a wickedly embarrassing lesson NOT to wear white shorts while paddling, we took a moment to sit and relax. Just to stare out into the Atlantic and breathe. Allowing daydreams of pirates and explorers to drift lazily though our minds, to suspend reality for a while and let Mexico work its magic. This is what I was hoping for; this is the wisdom I wanted to impart on my son, the beauty of simple experience. Complete immersion into another culture, time, space or circumstance. To let the moment wash over you. Don’t just gloss over life, sink into it, feel it, where ever you are, don’t miss a damn thing son….nothing. Eventually, we left our conquers mark in the sand, for us it’s equivalent to planting a flag for England, we shared one last smile (a brief sand kicking exchange) and remounted our valiant scooter to a chorus of laughter and continued north.
After chewing up the remainder of the east coast road, there is a sharp left on to Transversal De Cozumel. This is the road that connects the two coasts. Now, at the intersection there is a stop sign. It has NOT been placed there by any manner of Mexican road authority, but rather by one of two culprits. 1. Senior Iguanas or 2. Mezcalitos. Each Cantina facing each other in an eternal Mexican standoff, on opposite corners of the “Left Only” intersection. This is pure marketing genius. When you stop, you are immediately pounced upon by well mannered and damn funny representatives from each establishment. They endeavor explaining why you need a cerveza and how hungry you look. “Have you not eaten AT ALL today?” Excellent! We opted for Senior Iguanas as my brother had already regaled me with tales of Mezcalitos naked beach and show your (parts of female anatomy) at the bar for free tequila. Not the ideal place for B-Rad, although he was definitely up for it (He had also heard his uncle’s stories). Not feeling hungry as of yet, we refueled with a coke and blasted off for Cozumel proper.
Shortly after arrival we bid a tearful goodbye to our mechanical pony and wandered the shops that inhabit the pier area. We were laughing at the novelties, trying on sombreros, shaking maracas, plucking ukuleles and generally making a nuisance of ourselves. After running out of laughs in the shops (and weathering several shopkeepers surly looks) we decided to gobble down some Mickie Dee’s (God bless, anywhere in the world, you can get a big mac) and then sadly, take the ferry back to Playa Del Carmen. As stated, Cozumel was a magic moment for us, with memories I will take to the grave. I sincerely hope my son absorbed the life lesson I so desperately wanted him to learn. Cozumel had a few lessons for me also, I learned to NEVER wear white shorts while paddling and to ALWAYS ensure your shirt is buttoned properly while scootieing around a tropical island…..lest you endure the seldom talked about but always threatening…burnt bacon nipple.