Nancy & David will be easy to spot with our new scuba hoods
Friday September 18th
We left for the airport at 2pm for a 4:45pm flight. The flight from Phoenix to Dallas was uneventful. We landed in the Dallas airport at 9pm, due to the time change. We waited at the airport curb for awhile until we figured out which airport shuttle to take to our Holiday Inn Express North. The room we had in the hotel was a business suite. Huge! After we dropped all our bags in the room, we walked at least a mile to a What-a-Burger for something to eat. And then a mile back. After eating we dropped off between the sheets.
Saturday September 19th
The alarm went off at 6am, making it a short night. A little coffee, a quick shower and we then packed our bags for another full day. At 7am we had a really nice breakfast downstairs in the lobby of the Holiday Inn. We took another shuttle van to the airport way to early. As we sat at the gate, several more members of the group showed up. It was nice that most of us took the same flight into Cozumel. The flight left Dallas at 11am and landed at 1:45pm local time. Again, nothing unusual happened on the flight. The Cozumel airport is a 1 runway airport, with no taxiway. Luckily, it doesn't get much air traffic.
We went straight through immigrations, after walking down the stairs to get off the plane and then into the airport. They’re very picky about all the documentation being completed correctly. After immigration, we retrieved our luggage and then we got to punch the button for customs. Red light or green light! Red light means your entire luggage gets a complete search. Yeah, we got the green light!
After everybody went through customs, 9 of us all in total, the 9 of us and 2 strangers (with our entire luggage) got into a van for transport to the Casa Del Mar resort. The 2 strangers were dropped off at the cruise ships – they were entertainers.
We arrived at the resort after a short trip, with all of us doing our impressions of sardines. Just like a well oiled machine, the staff unloaded the van, issued keys and carried our baggage to our individual rooms. We unpacked and went down to the restaurant for well deserved meal.
Nancy and I retired to our room after a great meal. It has been a long couple of days with very little sleep and a whole lot of "hurry up and wait”. Just normal travelling.
Sunday September 20th
We awoke after a great nights sleep, had some coffee and went downstairs to the breakfast buffet. One by one everyone arrived for breakfast. At 8am, everyone had completed all the required documentation to go diving and walked over to the dock. From the resort you have to walk on the pedestrian bridge, over the main road and then down to the dock. Actually, it is a pretty short walk.
Once we got our weights, we loaded ourselves on the Splash 4 boat. We can not say enough about the professionalism of the boat crew. The very smooth 35 minute boat ride brought us to our first dive site. It was a deep dive (85 feet) and very nice.
Our second dive was a shallow drift dive at 35 feet. Not as many big fish to see, but a lot of beautiful coral. The current was strong, but not over powering.
We arrived back at the dock shortly after 12pm. We cleaned and stowed our equipment and all went to lunch. After lunch, Nance & I took a well deserved nap. Dinner was a buffet and very appetizing. Couple drinks with the group after dinner and we called it a night.
Monday September 21st
Again, we met the boat at 8am for another two tank dive. At the first dive site, there were many little cuts or channels to swim through. Very cool! I could bore you with the details of the beauty, but instead I’ll let you review the pictures instead. The second dive site was a shallower dive, with lots more cuts or channels to swim through. Many lobsters, stingrays, turtles and of course Barracuda’s.
Tuesday September 22nd
On today’s first dive we did a ship wreck. It is a 184 foot long Mexican Navy ship which was sunk in 2000. It was recently cleaned up and it is also a wreck training site. At 80 feet down the current was pretty good outside the ship. But once inside there was no current. The passageways were large yet not overly large. Plenty of room for one diver, but not two. After Nancy and David finished their wreck training, we explored the ship. We followed Mario, the boat dive master deep into the ship wreck. It was cool to find a “head” or bathroom still with the porcelain toilets. We took pictures but it was too dark inside the bathroom, so the pictures didn’t turn out. We only explored 2 of the 4 levels before it was time to surface. Navigating through the ship was much easier than either of us thought it would be. This is probably due to all the natural light being let in.
Our second dive of the day was a sandy bottom location with a 4 knot current. It was very difficult to stop and take any pictures. But with the current, it was like watching a movie go by. Even with the current, we were still able to view some pretty fantastic sea life, such as a trumpet fish, baby yellow striped angel fish, parrot fish and a HUGE queen angel fish.
Wednesday September 23rd
The first dive of the day was the Santa Rosa Wall. A 300 foot vertical wall with a pretty strong current. Just gorgeous! Even at 80 feet below the coral was spectacular with all of its colors.
The second dive also had a strong current. The first part of the dive did not have much to see, but the terrain improved the further we went. There was a HUGE turtle eating and ignoring all of us. We were able to get some great pictures of him.
After the second dive, the boat took us to The Beach Club where we had lunch. This club is very near the last dive site. We ate chicken wings, cheese quesadillas and a large fruit plate. We kind hung out for about one and half hours and then went to our third dive of the day.
Our third dive of the day off the boat was a very easy dive. Very light current which allows us of plenty of time to stop and explore. We experienced the first seahorse of our lives. It was about 4 inches long. It was in a small plant and its tail was holding on for dear life. Even with 14 divers looking at it or taking pictures, it never moved or got scared. This experience was very cool!
The first two dives today were video taped by a local photographer Cesar Medina. Just before dinner, he played the video for us – it was 45 minutes long. Just excellent! He did a marvelous job, so we ended up purchasing one of the DVD’s as a souvenir. I was able to extract a couple of snippets from his 45 minute long video.
Thursday September 24th
We all met in the lobby with our diving gear at 6:30am. We taxied to the ferry which took us from the Island of Cozumel over to the mainland. The ferry docked in Playa Del Carmen where the Yukatek group picked us up at the ferry dock. From there, we walked to their office to do all the necessary paperwork and get ready for the trip. They loaded all our gear onto the front of a 3 wheeled bicycle which was equipped with a luggage rack. Very nice not to have to drag all our equipment through the shopping areas. From their office to the cenote was about a 30 minute drive. On the way we received a briefing about cavern diving procedures. We took a quick tour of the entrance and then got suited up into our dive gear.
The first impact with the cenote water was a shock! The cenote water, at the surface was a chilly 74 degrees. Even with all our wet gear it was still cold. However, it was a pretty cool dive. Lots of stalagmites, small fish, a turtle, rock formations, and trees growing out of the rocks up to the entrance. David got cold at the end of the dive and decided not to do the second dive. Nance went ahead and did the second dive in the Little Brother Cenote.
Cenote diving is different than cave diving. With cave diving, you do not see any sunlight after leaving the entrance. With cenote diving, there almost always sunlight nearby. Giving you that sense of security. The staging area for these two cenotes is still very rustic. The locals wish to leave as small of a foot print as possible.
We returned back to the resort around 2pm. There was nothing else planned for the afternoon, so some of us took a taxi downtown and did some shopping. Most of the merchants were "in your face", which was a real turn-off. I wish they would learn that most of us will not enter a store which gets in our faces out on the street. I understand why they are doing it. The economy is really bad right now. A taxi driver told us the tourist numbers are about 50% of what it was last year. But still, hard selling is not the way to get me to spend my money.
We returned from shopping just in time for dinner. After dinner and just before dark we all met at the dock again for our boat night dive. This was the best dive of all the dives. The shear numbers of creatures which were out feeding was just breath taking. Octopus, squids, stingrays, lobsters, crabs and a whole variety of night creatures made this the best dive of all.
Friday September 25th
Today Nancy and I had decided not to dive and took the 10am ferry over to Playa Del Carmen. We had set up a time to meet some friends of ours, who have lived in Tulum for almost 20 years. Tulum is about 30 minutes drive south of Playa Del Carmen. After lots of hugs, we went and found a little restaurant to eat and just gossip away. After a very long lunch we did a little shopping to stimulate the economy. Had a WONDERFUL time!! Back onto the ferry for a 35 minute ride to the island of Cozumel.
This evening, the Casa Del Mar resort had hired a Latin dance group to entertain us. They were excellent dancers and had very sexy colorful costumes for each dance. There was also a costume contest and a balloon breaking contest – David and Nancy won the balloon contest! Yippee!! We won a pair of t-shirts. The costume contest was very cool to watch with many interesting and innovative costumes. The winner was a dude from California dressed up like the “Dive Baby!” He won a 7 day all expense trip for one back to the Casa Del Mar! I also would have dressed up like a “dive baby” for that prize.
Saturday September 26th
Today we leave the island. While this has been a great vacation/trip, we are ready to go home. We slept in late – all the way to 6:30am. Drank a pot of coffee and then went down to breakfast. After a leisurely breakfast and chatting with everyone, we went back to the room and packed all of our gear. No surprise, we were finished way ahead of schedule.
The whole group met in the lobby at 12 noon for a ride to the airport. The trip through the Cozumel airport was interesting. First, security was not the same as at Phoenix International. They do not require that you take your shoes off like at other airports. Second, they did a second screening of everybody at the gate. Not only did they go through your bags, but they also took any water you may have bought after going through the first security. Odd, very odd.
Immigrations and customs at the Dallas airport was a breeze. We had plenty of time to go through government checks and still make it to the gate with about 30 minutes to spare. So we stopped and had some delicious airport food.
The trip from Dallas to Phoenix was easy with no surprises. Found a Blue Airport shuttle van and we were home before 9 pm. The van driver scared David by texting on her phone and driving 75 mph up the highway. David asked her to stop texting while driving and she got all upset. No, she did not get a tip her for trying to kill us!
The four legged children were very happy to see us again and we were glad to be home. It was a great diving vacation with some great people!!
NOTES: This was a diving vacation. We would leave every morning at 8 am and be back by 12 noon. Most days there was nothing else planned for the day! As a diving resort, there was plenty of shore diving to do. All you had to do was inform the dive shop (which closed nightly at 5pm) and they would leave tanks out for you to use. While there was plenty of time to sight see, we chose not to. I do not have enough words to describe the incredible staff at Casa Del Mar. From the bell boy to the management staff, each and every one of them made you think that they worked just for you personally.
Also, immediately to the resorts south was the docks for cruise ships. Every day there was a cruise ship. Some days, there was two or three. Huge floating cities is the only way to describe them. However, none of the cruise ships or their passengers interrupted any of our activities.