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Diving on the Reef in Cozumel - 1998

Bob gets his Open Water Certificate and I lose the Underwater Camera


View 1998 Belize, Tikal, Atlanta, and Cozumel & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

In December 1998 we went to Cozumel so Bob could get certified in Scuba. I had a package from Aqua Dreams which included diving and a hotel and one meal a day. We left on Thursday and flew back on Wednesday.

Cozumel is 33 miles long and 11 miles wide. It is the largest island in the Republic of Mexico. More cruise ships visit it than visit St. Thomas. And that is saying something!! The cruise ships come to the only town on the island which is San Miguel. Twelve miles to the west of Cozumel is the mainland
Approaching the coast

Approaching the coast


Cozumel was a Mayan center for trading and was also a pilgrimage center from 300 AD until the Spaniards came in the 1500's and brought smallpox which wiped out the original inhabitants. San Miguel remained a sleepy village until Jacques Cousteau discovered it and put it on the map as the greatest diving destination in the world.
Aerial shot of the Reef - from the plane as I was leaving

Aerial shot of the Reef - from the plane as I was leaving


The central plaza, has several memorials to Benito Juarez, the famed Mexican statesman and national hero. To the west is the downtown pier, where ferries depart for Playa del Carmen and the Mayan ruins on the mainland.

Thursday, 3 December 1998

We flew down separately. I had gotten a free round trip flight on Delta to anywhere in North America by taking a voluntary bump. Almost all the flights (BWI to Atlanta to Cancun to Cozumel) were code-shares - most of them were not on Delta.. I flew BWI to Atlanta to Cancun and then took a puddle hopper to Cozumel. After I landed in Cancun, I went through immigration and then wanted to get on the following flight. But they had a fit and made me take the little open ended wrenches I had for my dive equipment out of my bag - no tools allowed.

I don't know what they thought I would do with wrenches. Take the seats out of the plane?
Aluminum Wrench

Aluminum Wrench


I had to leave them there - they gave them to the pilot to transport for me. (I had them so I could attach my regulator to rental tanks). The pilot did take the wrenches to Cozumel for me.

Coming in to land

Coming in to land

Shadow of the plane

Shadow of the plane

From the seat of the plane

From the seat of the plane

Airport

Airport

Anyway, Bob had a ticket on AA to go down to Miami which he hadn't used. The weekend that I took the bump, he was to have flown directly from BWI to Miami to spend the weekend with our daughter, and he decided not to go (and he should have gone because a boat that he wanted to buy was for sale and he could have bought it). But he had this unused ticket to Miami so all I had to do was get him a ticket from Miami to Cozumel. He flew directly in from Miami on AA. (I don't think that flight is available anymore.)

He got there first and they showed him to a room.
Hotel in 2007

Hotel in 2007

Hotel fence from the street

Hotel fence from the street


We had picked the absolutely cheapest accomodation that was available - the Aguilar Hotel. There was only one person on the staff that spoke English (which is why you had to ask for Mayte if you phoned from the states). Our room had A/C. Lower rates were available if you only wanted a fan. We had no TV or phone. TV's were available for an additional $2 US.

The rooms are around a patio which includes a lot of nice landscaping and a pool, plus there is off street parking for vehicles.
3172224-Courtyard_Isla_Cozumel.jpgPatio table, drying lines and pool outside our room

Patio table, drying lines and pool outside our room


It was very quiet and we loved being able to walk around town and eat at the various restaurants. There were lines for hanging dive gear to dry. No credit cards accepted.

When I got there, I was unable to explain to the desk people that my husband was already there. (There was a language barrier.) So when I was shown to a room on the second floor - obviously unoccupied - Bob was not in it - I knew I was in the wrong place.
Walkway outside the room

Walkway outside the room


I went out on the balcony and yelled BOB. And he was just downstairs, waiting with the door open a little, and heard me, and so we were re-united. After that we took a taxi back out to the airport to get my dive wrenches.

The service was fine - the hotel rooms look exactly the way they are pictured on the website.
Diving stuff on the bed - The yellow thing is the underwater camera housing

Diving stuff on the bed - The yellow thing is the underwater camera housing

Our stuff on the bureau at the hotel

Our stuff on the bureau at the hotel

Friday 4 December, 1998

Bob was taking a PADI OW (Professional Association of Diving Instructors Open Water) course from Papa Hog's dive shop. Papa Hogs SCUBA emporium was Canada's original Mexican dive shop which was started in 1991 by Mike and Margaret Gerus. I picked Papa Hog because I wanted Bob to take a scuba course and get certified and I thought that Margaret (Mike's wife) would be a good teacher. Unfortunately, she was back in Canada at the time we were there.
Bob by the rental rate list

Bob by the rental rate list


I was already certified, so I was diving while he was taking classes. I did at least one night dive. My dive package included breakfast (or one meal) across from the dive shop. So we would take a taxi (about $6) out to the dive shop in the morning and eat breakfast at the Hog Town Cafe,
Hogtown Cafe

Hogtown Cafe


{Mexican and Canadian breakfasts omelets, pancakes and home fries. Lunch - fresh salads, delicious sandwiches on freshly baked bread, lasagna, hamburgers and other specialities.}
3172212-Dive_shop_from_the_cafe_Isla_Cozumel.jpgDive shop from the cafe

Dive shop from the cafe



Each day Bob would take classes (both classroom and in water) and I would dive. One of the first dives I did was with divers from one of the cruise ships.
The group behind me

The group behind me

large_3172446-More_Scuba_photos_Isla_Cozumel.jpglarge_3172448-More_Scuba_photos_Isla_Cozumel.jpglarge_08-x00001105.JPGlarge_x00000481.JPGRed fish

Red fish

large_fec96a40-0018-11eb-8466-d7385c05173b.jpgLobster behind  fish

Lobster behind fish

large_fd9ad550-0018-11eb-a626-dd40ec7cca61.jpglarge_3172449-More_Scuba_photos_Isla_Cozumel.jpglarge_145636243172452-More_scuba_a..la_Cozumel.jpglarge_825008833172451-More_scuba_a..la_Cozumel.jpglarge_3172447-Rock_Beauties_Isla_Cozumel.jpglarge_848329883172455-More_scuba_a..la_Cozumel.jpg

They did the in water exercises off the beach and Bob's head got sunburned. He also got a really bad chest cough (he may have had pneumonia) and felt terrible for a lot of the time. But he did pass the course and got certified.

There was a new supermarket called Chedraui out by the Barracuda Hotel at the beginning of the Southern Hotel Zone.
Chedraui market from the taxi

Chedraui market from the taxi


Bob used to walk out there from town and get incidentals.

We were told that we should only drink bottled water, so we got that much less expensively at the Cozumel Market which is located between 20th and 25th on Adolfo Rosado Salas.
Large Water bottles by the bed in the hotel

Large Water bottles by the bed in the hotel


This is a more "Mexican" market. We didn't have any cooking facilities, but if we had, we could have purchased fresh seafood, meats, fruits, vegetables, spices and a variety of other Mexican foods.

Saturday 5 December 1998

Papa Hogs Dive Shop - inside in 1998 (Mike and Margaret are Canadian hence the flag)

Papa Hogs Dive Shop - inside in 1998 (Mike and Margaret are Canadian hence the flag)


Kitten at Papa's with a lady in the shop

Kitten at Papa's with a lady in the shop

Papa Hog's dock in 1998

Papa Hog's dock in 1998


Most of the dives were drift dives. You could set off at a dock and just drift down the island and have a taxi pick you up at the end. I went on another dive with a group and we did a wall dive and they saw some sea horses - I didn't see them.
My 'buddy'

My 'buddy'

Another diver

Another diver

large_3172442-More_Scuba_photos_Isla_Cozumel.jpgOther divers

Other divers

Coral reef and fish

Coral reef and fish

large_4795086-Underwater_photo_Isla_Cozumel.jpglarge_fe2ed7f0-0018-11eb-bd34-5b9f7d1fc702.jpglarge_fd7aa320-0018-11eb-a626-dd40ec7cca61.jpglarge_fcc90660-0018-11eb-a626-dd40ec7cca61.jpglarge_fb0c6240-0018-11eb-a626-dd40ec7cca61.jpgf8dcb100-0018-11eb-a626-dd40ec7cca61.jpglarge_f7818dd0-0018-11eb-a626-dd40ec7cca61.jpglarge_dfdb04e0-0018-11eb-8466-d7385c05173b.jpgRock beauty

Rock beauty

Moray eel

Moray eel


Scuba diver with camera

Scuba diver with camera

large_4795054-reef_San_Miguel_de_Cozumel.jpg
Sometimes we would go through caves. The boat would track us from the surface by our bubbles
Into a cave behind another diver

Into a cave behind another diver

Queen angel

Queen angel

Non winding camera and obscured by bubbles

Non winding camera and obscured by bubbles

Coming in to the dock

Coming in to the dock



I do not normally like to shop, but it is almost inevitable to do it in Cozumel in the evening. The first night we were there, I bought myself a black embroidered shift. It had embroidery all around the top and more on the hem. I did bargain a little (starting to walk out at least once) and may have paid about $10 for it.
Mom on her 95th birthday

Mom on her 95th birthday

Detail of embroidery

Detail of embroidery


I later gave it to my mom because I don't like to wear black when we are on the boat because it is too hot. Also it didn't have pockets - my mom put some in because she likes to have pockets too.

I got some small hammocks for putting on the bulkheads of the boat to put things in - they cost only a couple of bucks.
Small red hammock bought in Cozumel

Small red hammock bought in Cozumel


I attempted to buy a topaz which is my birthstone, but after a difficult time with the language barrier, I determine that the jewelry was cheap because it was made with artificial stones, so I didn't buy any.

We heard from some cruise ship passengers that they had been warned about going into the back streets. This is complete balderdash.

Q: What does it mean when your cruise ship advises you of this: "Shop at the many stores featured in Cozumel’s recommended shopping program."

A: It means they get a kick-back if you shop in the stores they recommend.
Shops along the main street - decorated for Xmas

Shops along the main street - decorated for Xmas


There will be guys at the doorways of most stores trying to steer you into the store - their mantra is "So cheap it is almost free". The farther away from the docks the cheaper things get. And you will be able to bargain, whereas at the ship recommended stores, the prices are set. The stores closest to the coast and primarily Punta Langosta Pier are the most expensive catering to cruise ship passengers. The "shopping zone" extends back from the waterfront a few blocks and there is little chance of getting lost. It is not dangerous to walk around town. Shops are generally open from 9 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm. Many shops close for siesta however, most stores near the pier will stay open during siesta hours and most stores are open all day during high season.
Fountain

Fountain

large_4795929-In_1998_San_Miguel_de_Cozumel.jpg
I did some shopping and bought a little picture at an open air stand for my daughter-in-law. There was a long line of toys on one side of the square which I assume was connected to the Christmas celebrations.
Toys lined up in square

Toys lined up in square


Shoppers may choose to pay in cash, either in pesos, US dollars or traveler's checks. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club and Discover cards are commonly accepted although the first two are more readily accepted then other credit cards.

NOTE: If you use your credit card write down the date and description of EVERY transaction.

There is often a street fair in the main square or Zólaco. Sometimes there are artists displaying their wares. Do check to see if the items were made in Mexico and not in China or Haiti. The best time for a walk is in the early evening, cool, sunset, all the shops will be open until 9ish.

One of the things the founding families of Cozumel really did right was to construct a broad sidewalk along the waterfront next to the sea wall. The seawall which is frequently white washed and trimmed in aqua has cement benches built into it.
Shore with Christmas lights

Shore with Christmas lights


(and despite what many cruise reps would have you believe.) Again, we just can't stress enough how safe and friendly the downtown area is. Do not be afraid to explore back in the town. If you're a shopper, there are out of the way places to which you can walk. And where, usually, they'll bargain.

I did a night dive
Eel or snake?

Eel or snake?


large_189064303172454-More_scuba_a..la_Cozumel.jpglarge_821879313172456-More_scuba_a..la_Cozumel.jpgSpotted moray

Spotted moray

Crab on a night dive

Crab on a night dive


Sting ray

Sting ray

Sunday 6 December 1998

I was watching this construction site at breakfast - part of my job at home was to inspect such places.
215649181350950-View_across_..la_Cozumel.jpgCozumel construction site View across the street from the Hog Town Cafe

Cozumel construction site View across the street from the Hog Town Cafe

After Bob had done some of his classes, he and I and the other student in the class did a couple of dives together.
08-dive-032.jpgBob and the other student

Bob and the other student


We did a very shallow dive.
Dive master approaching a moray

Dive master approaching a moray


Dive master and moray

Dive master and moray

Moray swims off

Moray swims off

Splendid Toadfish (endemic to Cozumel)

Splendid Toadfish (endemic to Cozumel)

Rock Beauty

Rock Beauty

Rear view

Rear view

large_3172424-Underwater_animals_Isla_Cozumel.jpglarge_3172423-Underwater_animals_Isla_Cozumel.jpg
In the evening we would walk around town and eat at one of the restaurants. We walked out past the Punta Langosta lighthouse one night and ate at the Barracuda hotel.
Lighthouse in 1998

Lighthouse in 1998


The Punta Langosta station was established in 1906, but the date that the lighthouse was built is unknown. The focal plane was 56 ft; white flash every 5 s. It is a 49 ft cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and two galleries, painted white. It was deactivated in 2000
Waterfront - sunset December 6

Waterfront - sunset December 6


Sunday evening after dinner is the best place for 'people watching' or dancing in the square. A free open air concert in the town's band shell.. starts at 8 pm.
Town square at dusk with cruise ship in background

Town square at dusk with cruise ship in background

Cruise ship slips past the town square

Cruise ship slips past the town square

Square at night

Square at night


San Miguel is very safe even late in the evening

Monday, 7 December 1998

I was doing a dive where we had to go through some caves. Someone took my dive camera to take my photo and when he gave it back to me, I didn't get it clipped on good, and the camera floated off in the caves. Maybe it is still there. Bob threatened that the next time I got a dive camera, he would attach it to a nipple piercing so I could not lose it.

One evening we ate at Prima which was Italian on a rooftop (second floor). I don't remember what we paid or what we ate. There was a roving guitarist who played for people who asked him to play for them, but he did not insist on playing if you didn't want him to.
Live guitar music

Live guitar music


There was a Christmas parade on the street below.
08-2036-012.jpgParade from the restaurant

Parade from the restaurant


I also remember that there were some obnoxious drunk folks from the cruise ships there that made me ashamed to admit I was also from the USA.

Tuesday 8 December 1998

Mike (Papa Hog) on the beach

Mike (Papa Hog) on the beach

Taxi that we took out to the Museum

Taxi that we took out to the Museum

Facade of the Museum taken from a taxi in 2007

Facade of the Museum taken from a taxi in 2007


We went to the Cozumel museum thinking we might go have lunch there, but the restaurant was closed. So we just went to the museum - the only photos I took there was of the dioramas - many of which show what the reefs look like underwater (but they were dioramas and not aquariums)
Diorama of tapir

Diorama of tapir

4795073-Second_Floor_San_Miguel_de_Cozumel.jpgUnderwater diorama

Underwater diorama

Underwater diorama

Underwater diorama

474542613172103-Cozumel_Muse..la_Cozumel.jpgCozumel Museum (Museo de la Isla de Cozumel)

Cozumel Museum (Museo de la Isla de Cozumel)

large_34280770-ff95-11ea-b067-7376c8ceb583.jpg

I don't have my expense account for this trip so I don't know for sure what the other restaurants were where we ate. There were various US based chain restaurants, which we did get take-away food from at times when we were too tired from diving to be able to walk to dinner.
Building on the corner near our hotel

Building on the corner near our hotel

Evening

Evening

Wednesday, 9 December 1998
Landing gear coming up

Landing gear coming up

Leaving Cozumel

Leaving Cozumel


From the plane

From the plane


We flew home to the cold weather
Maryland in December

Maryland in December

----------------------

In 1999, we worked on the boat and sailed around the Chesapeake on weekends. In June 1999 Bob retired (again - it was the third or fourth time depending on how you count) . After I retired in February 2000, we traveled south for the winter on our sailboat Novices on the ICW

Posted by greatgrandmaR 10:01 Archived in Mexico Tagged scuba dive shop cozumel

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