Reeling in the years

Saturday morning, we packed up to leave Cozumel. We had breakfast then took a taxi along to the ferry terminal. The embarkation was considerably less stressful than on arrival and, before long, we were comfortably ensconced on the modern ferry that traverses the 12 miles to Playa del Carmen in about 45 minutes.

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We had reserved a rental car for the rest of our stay in Mexico from a company called Carflex which combined competitive pricing with the convenience of an office on the pier at Playa del Carmen. They handed over the keys to a Chevrolet Aveo into which we crammed our luggage and set off south to visit our friends.

We first met Donald 35 years ago in Copenhagen, when his first words to us were, “You must be Brian and Ishbel. Would you like a beer?” With a greeting like that, how could we not be friends? We were in Copenhagen visiting mutual friends at the time but we’ve stayed in touch over the years across many different geographies. He has retired from working in the US to live in Chicago with his wife, Azza and they have kindly agreed to host us for the rest of our stay here. Donald greeted us in the traditional manner, so we had a beer and chatted for a while, combining a catch-up on recent events with random reminiscences from years ago.

They live in a beach side community populated by a number of ex-pats and we met a few of them on Saturday evening and enjoyed a delicious meal in the local restaurant where we had a lovely meal as the Caribbean lapped against the beach. After dinner, chatting and drinking continued until, eventually, we all ran out of energy and called it a night.

Ishbel was up early on Sunday morning and went for a walk along the beach. The wind was blowing hard that morning and the sea was quite lively.

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The weather mellowed a little as the morning wore on and, before too long, Ishbel was able to capture this picture of an osprey after it had caught a fish.

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The Yucatan Peninsula rests on a bed of limestone. A defining feature of limestone is its porosity: water seeps through the stone and, over time, creates cavities and channels. The caves formed by this erosion are subject to subsidence above, creating sinkholes, similar to the one we saw in Australia. Here, these sinkholes are called cenotes, and were sacred in the pre-Hispanic Mayan culture. The cenotes come in various shapes and sizes. Some are steep sided pits, others look more like rivers with an extensive water course at ground level.

Nowadays, many of the water-filled cenotes are used as swimming holes, or for cave diving. On Sunday, we visited the nearby Casa Cenote, a U-shaped lagoon-like version where we were able to snorkel to our heart’s content. I was so intent on looking for marine life with my eyes focused below the water that I was surprised when I looked up and saw a sign instructing me to go no further without a guide. I decided to turn around and was even more surprised to see a sign I had already passed bearing the legend: “Caution. Crocodile area.” ¬†Donald reassured me later that it was only a small crocodile that lived in the cenote, and it didn’t eat people.

On the way back, we stopped at La Buena Vida in Akumal for a late lunch on the beach. Once again, the food was delicious and there was an added bonus since they had craft beer on draft. Donald and I shared a pitcher of Mundo Maya IPA. We headed back to the house and relaxed for the rest of Sunday. I realise my life hasn’t exactly seen a lot of stress for the last six months, but this beachfront living is particulary relaxing!