Cozumel, Mexico
October 5-8, 2001


Yet another Cozumel trip - my third this year! I went with Tammy, Jennifer and her brother Jeff. I met Tammy and Jennifer on the April trip. We were discussing about returning to Cozumel later in the year right after coming back from that trip! We went with a known entity - Dive West, just like last time. This time we had Sandy as our trip leader and I got a nice surprise - I got to room with Danny that I learnt to know in the Texas Mud Divers club several years ago. We buddied up on most dive and were equally bad dive buddies, something we both felt comfortable with. I always stayed at the rear of the group during the dive and he was further towards the front, but most of the time within sight.

Friday

This was my first time flying after the September 11th attack and was a little worried about the security checks. I decided to leave my video camera at home as I always have problems getting that one through the security. Another reason to leave it at home is that most of the diving in Cozumel is drift diving, something that doesn't go well with the kind of video I like to take. If you just want to shoot people and big animals, it's not a problem, but with smaller fish you have a problem staying still long enough to get a good shot. And by then the rest of the group will be long gone too... Instead of the video camera, I bought a cheap ($40) semi-disposable 35mm camera. It looks like disposable UW camera, but is rated to 60ft and actually is regular (very cheap) 35mm fixed focus camera with a built-in flash contained in a clear plastic housing. I had it down to 100ft without any problems, but I didn't try to take any pictures then. See below for some pictures I took with the camera. It wasn't a total waste of money, but you have to know the limitations of the camera. I got too close for a lot of the shots and they were way out of focus! Stay about 4 feet away and it's ok, especially with the flash. Something to remember though, is that a flash close to the lens you need really clear water to avoid backscatter. Fortunally, in Cozumel the water is clear enough :-)
Well, back to the security - the check in did take a lot longer and two in the group did have some problems with their ticket being magically cancelled (straightened out, fortunately!). Danny and I got lucky at the security X-rays - the line was super-long but we when we were headed to the end of the line, we were stopped by security and asked for our boarding passes. We must have looked like VIPs, because we were let through in front of the long line and it only took a few minutes when Danny had his carry-on searched. Getting into Cozumel was the same as before, i.e. long lines and you had to press the button for a green/red light to determine if your luggage were going to be searched or not. Both Danny and I had bad luck, but it only took a few minutes.
At La Ceiba, now owned by the El Cid hotel chain, we got a nice room in the tower - the older lower building is being renovated and turned into timeshares. The rooms in the tower were nicer than in the older building, so I had no complaints. And with a 6th floor room, we could put our dive gear out on the patio to dry (well, the gear got less wet...). Another change I noticed, is that the complimentary breakfast selection is not as varied as before, and you have to pay extra for omelettes, pancakes etc. Otherwise the hotel looks the same. Del Mar Aquatics hasn't changed and is as conveniently placed as before right by the dock, not even 40 ft from the hammocks...
Friday afternoon we checked in at the dive shop getting our weights and booking the additional dives we wanted, and then we just relaxed in the lounge chairs and hammocks on the beach until the 5.45pm night dive. Mexico doesn't have daylight savings time so it gets dark real early.

Dive #1: Paradise Reef (Night dive)
Depth: 48 ft
Duration: 0:46
Average night dive with little too much time spent in the "wasteland" between the coral formations. Saw no lobster, which was refreshing. I've seen enough lobsters on night dives to last me a life time, especially since I don't eat lobsters...

Dive profile for Paradise Reef (Dive #1)

Saturday

Dive #2: Punta Sur/Devil's Throat
Depth: 130 ft
Duration: 0:33
We were dropped of perfectly just where the reef starts and it's just a short swim to the entrance of the first swim through.

Dive profile for Punta Sur/Devils Throat (Dive #2)

Dive #3: Colombia Shallows
Depth: 36 ft
Duration: 1:05
This is a nice shallow second dive after Devil's Throat.

Dive profile for Colombia Shallows Reef (Dive #3)

Dive #4: Palancar Caves
Depth: 70 ft
Duration: 0:48
Lot's of swim throughs. Dove with Sandy as Danny was sitting out the afternoon dives. Saw some rock fish, Barracudas, turtle, etc.

Dive profile for Palancar Caves (Dive #4)

Dive #5: Chankanaab Reef
Depth 56 ft
Duration: 0:53
This dive I dove with Nitrox - Jennifer was sitting out this dive and she had booked nitrox for this dive, so I got to use her tank. Notice the low air consumption compared to the other dives.

Dive profile for Chankanaab Reef (Dive #5)

Sunday

Dive #6: Palancar Garden with "The Briggs"
Depth 101 ft
Duration: 0:38
A wall dive/ top of wall dive.

Dive Profile for The Briggs (Dive #6)

Dive #7: Paseo Del Cedral
Depth 70 ft
Duration: 0:51
Drift dive with very little swimming against/perpendicular to the current, i.e. a great drift dive. Some people at the front saw a nurse shark, others saw barracudas, stingrays, groupers (big). Stayed over the reef most of the time.

Dive Profile for Paseo Del Cedral (Dive #7)

After the diving we went to Ernesto's to eat and then we got a Jeep to tour the island. We stopped at Bob's Marley Bar as usual and had a few beers and relaxed and watched the sunset. Then we drove north and at a scenic point we got chased away by the mosquitoes - they were vicious! We intended to stop at Coconut's also but met a group of people in the parking lot that were chased away by the mosquitoes there too, so we scrapped those plans :-( Instead we just drove back to town for some relaxation before heading out to dinner/partying.
We decided to go to La Cocay which has gotten great reviews, but when getting there we found out it was closed. Next on the list was La Mission and when getting there, we found it to be barely open - we were the only one's there. This is a most unusual restaurant, with the tables out on the patio and the owners still living in the house. The kitchen is out in a separate house in the garden. It looks like a Mexican hacienda and we sure felt welcome there. Especially by the mosquitoes that really enjoyed our company. Fortunately, the restaurant provided bug spray... The food was great and not too expensive. The real surprise was waiting out in the garden where they keep their "pets" - two fully grown LIONS!! I guess, if you don't like the food and complain... They also have dogs and a spider monkey.
After dinner, Jeff and Jennifer were tired and went back to the hotel, while me, Marie and Tammy went on to Carlos 'N Charlie. There, we met Adolpho, Pedro from the dive shop and their friend Victor. None of us were really in a party mood with such a small group but of course we stayed until they closed... Well, they closed at 1 am so it wasn't that late...

Monday

Well, the trip ended way to early - we just had time to pack and have breakfast before heading out to the airport. Well, now we found out where they have beefed up the security - getting out of Cozumel (and more importantly, flying to the US). The line to the check in moved at a snails pace, and everybody's luggage was searched. Well, they didn't search my dive bag. I probably wouldn't want to search several hundred dive bags with wet wetsuits in them either... After check in, you had to stand in another, even longer, line to go through the security gate. There, they searched you luggage yet another time. And then at the gate (to which we got about 10 minutes before scheduled departure), they searched your luggage for a third time! After that is was smooth flying back to Dallas, and there were no additional luggage searches or extra hassle to go through immigration or customs. The end of another great dive trip! Can't wait to go again!

Click on thumbnails to see the full size pictures



Jeff setting up his gear on the Big Splash

This is the Big Splash we did the two Sunday dives off. Fortunately, the boat was not full...

Sunday's surface interval.

Jennifer with Jeff in the background at Prima.

Our trip leader Sandy at Prima's

Tammy and Marie

Danny

Mack

Leaving La Mission after an excellent dinner with several "surprises" This was an experience not to be missed.

This is Mohammed, one of the two lions La Mission had as pets... If you complained about the food...

We sure were surprised when they showed us their "pets"

At La Mission.



UW pictures



Danny

A French Angel Fish

A Honeycomb Cowfish.

Black Grouper.

Nassau Grouper

Octopus

Spotted Moray

End of the dive

Jennifer

Looks like a Hawksbill turtle

A school of French Grunts

Another Black Grouper

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