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Spring in Mexico: a Heated Experience

11 Apr

A week of incredible heat has been the setting for Mandy and her cats Mexican orientation.  We have seen the hottest temperatures since we have moved here(over 35 degrees) and it did not rain for 1 month!  That dry spell was broken with rain over the last couple of days and a return to a more comfortable temperature range of 29-33 degrees celsius (+30 almost seems chilly by comparison).  The cats having been loving their new friends and their new location so the interaction between the five cats and the 16 turtles has been priceless.  All the cats have been getting along and that is good because we have been out of the house a lot.  We have been finding apartments with Mandy, introducing her to our friends and preparing for more friends to visit as well as our eventual departure.  We are enjoying our remaining time here as much as possible by diving and taking advantage of  the local food, drink and cheer. It is still hard to believe that we will be returning soon but we are looking forward to another amazing road trip, and our reunion with friends and family.  After all our adventures and with all our amazing friends my roots have been firmly anchored here in Cozumel.  There will always be more adventures in the future but my heart will  reside in this island paradise.

Mandy - 26 years old, Seba tree - 400+ years old.

Homer loves feeding the turtles banana.

Mini Mew exploring the yard.

Roxy, Jessica, Ricky and Pepe at the Money Bar.

Froggy

Homer, Mini Mew, Bill, and Kitty wanting to go into the yard.

Five Cats and a Birthday.

3 Apr

After arriving last night, Loretta, Mandy and her three cats are waking up to a Mexican sunrise.  For Homer, Froggy, and Mini Mew the sights, sounds, and stress of a 12 hour travel day has melted away and now they are left with tropical paradise to explore.  So far all is well between all five of the cats!  We introduced them last night and there was not much drama at all. The were lucky enough to arrive on Liz’s birthday so after unloading at our place, we had some island cheer and closed down El Moro.  This birthday dinner was the summation of a full day of diving and having birthday fun.  Even though the day was long we still celebrated late and the staff at El Moro was more than accommodating by keeping the restaurant open an extra hour just for us.  Today we will allow our guests to settle in somewhat and the we will have to prepare for Liz’s birthday party tonight.  We have been very busy the last week planning for Liz’s birthday, preparing for Mandy’s arrival, planning our return, finishing our taxes, turning on our services at home, servicing the car, etc.  In between the work we have been visiting friends and diving when we can.  Now that most of the work is done we can enjoy our last month here and spend time with our last few visitors before having to face the frigid spring temperatures in the North once again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hasta Luego Amigos!

23 Mar

It has been a bit quiet the last couple days.  Daryl and Nakita are back in Canada, and probably already back at work.  We had lots of great times their last week here including going to the ruins, a few great dives, fun at cantinas, and goodbye parties. 

On the 17th, we went with Wilberth, Nakita and Daryl on  two boat dives.  It would be there last two dives from a boat so we decided to do reef that we had not yet done.  The first dive was on San Francisco Wall.  The wall starts at around 50 feet of depth, and carries on over 1000 feet to the bottom of the ocean.  We followed Wilberth down, and went to a max depth of 150 feet!  The currents have been a bit odd the last few days which led to cold water from the deep to come into shallower water.  The current changed during the dive, so we ascended a bit and drifted with the current.  It worked out great because we saw some really cool things we would have otherwise missed.  There was a rare sea cucumber that rolls (slowly) away if it feels threatened.  Also we saw another Flying Gunard!  We were lucky this time Daryl and Nakita were able to get pictures and video.  The second dive we went to Yucab Reef.  When descending, we could see the point in the water where the cold and warm water mixes.  The water here is normally about 79F, but on this dive it was a frigid 75F.  Might not sound like a huge difference, but when your deep under water it is like a wall of ice!  The reef loves the cold currents that carry nutrients to them and both reefs were bursting with life.  We still were able to see lobster, eel, lion fish and a splendid toadfish as well as hundreds of various other species.  For Nakita and Daryls last dive, we did a shore dive off of Del Mar and went to the plane wreck.  There is lots of fish life, and since it is spawning season there are little fish everywhere.

Daryl, Nakita, Larry, Charlotte, Tim and I all went to the San Gervasio Ruins one day.  It was hot, and always seems to be hotter in the jungle.  We got a tour guide this trip, and while they don’t take you to all the ruins, they are full of great information.  After the tour was over Tim, Nakita, Daryl and I walked out to the large ruin in the back.  We went back to the area Tim had found on our first trip there to look around.  We took some pictures, and headed for a beer to cool off.

On the 20th everyone got together at El Piques for the going away party.  Lots of people made it out and we all ate, drank and had a great time!  After we headed back to our place for a few more drinks.  It was a great night with friends!  The next day, we made it to Primas for breakfast before dropping Daryl and Nakita off at the ferry.  See you guys in Edmonton soon!

 

Spiky Sea-Cucumber.

 

 

 

Flying Gurnard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Splendid Toadfish.

 

 

 

Two Whitespotted Filefish. They look different because they are male and female. Always traveling in pairs, they feed on sponges and stinging corals.

 

 

 

This Scrawled Filefish has dots and dashes of bright blue colour that stay constant while the rest can change to blend with the environment. These can be up to 3 feet long.

 

 

 

A large Midnight Parrot fish like all parrot fish is an efficient recycling machine. Their beaks turn coral and rock into fine sand as they graze the algae from them.

 

 

 

Whats left of the airplane wreck sits upside-down in 25-35 feet of water. The structure is home to many fish, sponges and corals. A favourite shore dive for us we have been here a total of 9 times.

 

 

 

Nakita and Tim at the giant anchor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Yellow Stingray hiding under a formation of Mustard Hill Coral.

March Update.

16 Mar

The last couple weeks have had a lot of comings and goings and more to come.  Nakitas cousin Denise left, and Daryls father along with his step brother Jeff and his two kids arrived.  Daryl and Nakitas time is also running short.  They are staying at our place for there last week here, and are flying home on the 21st.  Since they have to leave so soon, we have been trying to fit everything left to do in to a short time.  Mandy has booked her flight and is heading down here for a while with her kitties and will be getting her on my birthday (April 2).  Also Adam Broderson is going to visit Cozumel with a few friends on April 18th for a week.  They will be staying at a resort, but we look forward to showing them the island.

Cozumel is home to two world-class sailboats that participated in Americas Cup, and since our friend Matt works there we were able to go as a group (9 people) for free!  We boarded the Canadian boat the True North and were assigned our jobs.  Most of us had pretty active jobs like working the winch to being the ships grinders.  After being shown what to do, the race started.  We worked hard and got in the lead!  Wind was good that day, and the boat got moving really fast.  It was great!!  The True North came across the line first and the ref gave the white flag to indicate that we were the official winners.  After a good winning celebration and a drink, I got to pilot the boat!  Thanks Matt for the awesome day! 

We have still be diving lots and Tim hit his 39 dive yesterday!  Most days we go for a shore dive in the morning for exercise.  Every dive is a unique experience as the current and what you see is always different.  Daryl, Nakita, Tim and Monstro took Jeff out for a dive while he was visiting. They saw the baby eagle ray, and a seahorse which can be hard to find.  Tim and I did see two more Flying Gurnards while doing a shore dive, but once again had no camera!  We spent a bit of time following them and were able to get right up close and examine them.  They are pretty rare fish so it was a treat to see two together.  

On the 13th Daryl, Nakita, Tim, and I went out on an afternoon dive of the boat wreck.   The boat is 184 feet long, 33 feet wide, sits in about 80 feet of water.  It was an old Mexican Navy boat that was donated and sunk to serve as an artificial reef.  We toured the whole boat from propellers to engine room and even made a stop in the bathroom.  It was a great dive.  After the wreck dive and our safety stop we went for a twilight dive at Paradise Reef.  The sun was setting over the ocean as we left the boat.  It was neat to see how the ocean changes as night falls.  As the fish become less active the lobsters, eels, crabs, and octopus all come out.  Thanks again to Darly for the great underwater pictures.

Viva Mexico!

Left to right in front: Larry, Charlotte, Denise and Tim. Back row: Chris, Tati, Daryl and Nakita.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pepe and Tim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adios February

5 Mar

February came to a close with increasing temperatures and more signs of spring.  During the last few days of February the air temperature was 30-32 degrees celsius and it felt like 38 degrees with the humidity.  The sky was blue and the ocean was warm, the water temperature is already rising and was at 27 degrees celsius (81 degrees F) last time we went for a dive.  We had been enjoying the weather by diving a lot and visiting with friends, that was until March rolled in.  A Norte has blown onto the island again, making the seas too rough to dive (the harbour is closed) and causing the air temperature to plummet into the mid 20’s with a cold wind blowing strong.  Twenty five degrees above freezing may not seem cold to the people suffering through a Canadian winter back home, but the “extreme” temperature swing (for the island) has us wearing pants and light sweaters at night instead of shorts and a t-shirt! 

This week we said our final goodbyes to J.P. and Catherine because their five weeks in paradise have come to an end.  They spent the last week of their time here living at “Dave’s Place”, our old apartment.  That is where they had their farewell party and many friends were in attendance.  While they were here they had attained their “Dive Master” certification so their goodbye party was also an initiation of sorts.  J.P. had completed his 100th dive, so complying with tradition he embarked on a naked night dive on paradise reef earlier that week.  Now that they were certified dive masters they also had to pass the “snorkel test.”  As you will see in the pictures below, the test includes chugging a drink through your snorkel tube and then having your mask filled with beer while having to clear it through the nose.  After that they were thrown in the pool and were spanked by a line of people holding diving fins initiation was complete!  We spent the rest of the night celebrating, socializing and enjoying some good BBQ food.  The next day we exchanged a sad goodbye with them as they boarded their plane to Quebec.  Liz and I hope to see you both again!

We also welcomed Denise, Nakitas cousin, on to the island for a week.  Soon after her arrival we took Denise on her maiden voyage under the sea. We Started by snorkeling with her just off the Love Bar beach.  We found many animals just freediving including a rare Flying Gurnard that none of us had seen or heard of before! Too bad we didn’t have a camera with us but I found some pictures to upload just to show how cool it was. Monstro, Nakita and I took Denise for a dive at the Villablanca peer behind La Hach. Daryl and Liz were not there because they were not feeling good.  I took over camera duties while Nakita recorded our dive on film.  There were many species out for viewing and it was another great dive off the shore.  This was my 32nd dive, a far cry from a hundred, maybe next year will be the time for my naked dive.

 

Party at Dave's Place!

 

 

This guy was enjoying the BBQ as much as us.

 

 

Catherine taking the snorkel test.

 

 

J.P. completing his snorkel test.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing I've learned while living here is that no party in Mexico is complete without someone getting cake in the face and then thrown in the pool with all their clothes on. Viva Mexico!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found this small puffer fish swimming around the dock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Golden Chain Eel was out hunting under the dock as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An adult Drum Fish.

 

 

 

 

These small filter feeders that grow out of the coral resemble christmas trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monstro showing a lion fish to Denise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Goat Fish combs the bottom with its whiskers while two Wrasse pick up the leftovers.

 

 

 

Trunk Fish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The black thing is a Sea Cucumber.

 

 

Sharp Tail Eel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smooth Spotted Trunkfish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Stingray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A school of Blue-striped Grunt Fish and Cotton-wicks.

   

 

A picture of a Flying Gurnard that we found online.  I wish we had a camera that day!

A picture of a Flying Gurnard that we found online. I wish we had a camera that day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flying Gurnard uses its small front fins as "hands." They are able to lift rocks and dig through sand for food. The colorful "wings" are used to deter predators.

Just Another Week in Paradise!

27 Feb

Another week of good times and fun has come to an end.  With just two months remaining in paradise, the return to Canada seems more real than ever.  Dreading returning to the colder and drier climates we have been making the most out of our time.  We wrapped up Carnival this week on Fat Tuesday with a great party and a sad goodbye to our friends, Jackie, Jeff, Lennon and Raceen. Then we spent the rest of the week enjoying ourselves by relaxing, going for good food and diving.  After Carnival I had to swear off alcohol for a while, hopefully my liver will survive to see another Carnival!   We went on a couple of shore dives and a couple of boats dives since Tuesday, taking advantage of the beautiful weather.  It has been really hot here the last week as “spring” starts.  Everything is flowering, we have two new turtle eggs in the yard and the temperatures have soared to the high 30’s when you factor in the humidex!  Just another week in Paradise!

Eric showing off for the ladies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This float Monstro and friends built from 100% recycled materials.

 

 

Marching in the parade.

 
 
 
 
 
 

All the floats are lined up to enter the parade route.

 

 

 

 

Monstros float was a dragon with moving parts, including legs that walked and a bobbing head. Powered by people and made from garbage and recycled materials this float has zero environmental impact!

 
 
 

More Sponge Bob just for Chantel!

 
 

Even a broken leg wont keep people from the parade!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"No Mames," exclaimed Hugo!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me Gusta Fiestas!

 
 

The entrance to the new harbor. Notice the guy snorkeling in the sediment pool checking to make sure none of it gets out for the safety of the coral reefs.

 
 

On the way to dive the "Devils Throat"

 
 

Wilberth is giving the "Devils Throat" hand signal as we prepare to enter the mouth of the cave already at 80 feet of depth.

 
 

After swimming from the mouth and straight down through the throat we catch a glimpse of the exit. A deep blue hole at 140 feet under, staring out into the abyss of the open ocean.

 

 

 

Can you spot the lion fish?

 
 

A large Barracuda was waiting for us at the exit of a cave.

 
 

Ascending to our safety stop.

 

Which way is up again?

 
 

Blowing air rings is much better for your health than smoke rings. Only slightly less addictive though...

 
 

This guy was waiting for us as we descended on Columbia Shallows.

 
 

We were lucky to spot this tiny juvenile Drum Fish.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Trumpet Fish hiding among the corals.

 
 
 

Those little white spotted things eating the coral are called Flamingo Tongues.

 
 
 

Can you see the Rock Fish?

 
 

 

 

 

More Flamingo Tongues.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just incase you get lost.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were lucky to see a large Eagle Ray as the season for them has passed.

 

 

 

 

 

J.P., Catherine, Liz and I celebrating a couple great dives!

 
 
 

The giant orange Iguanas that live near the entrance of the harbour always mark the end of a great day diving

 

Carnival 2012

20 Feb

 This week comes to an end with Carnival!  It has been a great week with friends and now the party has started.  Lennon and Raccen’s wedding was beautiful and meeting their family and friends has been great.  There were many adventures  this week but there have been a couple mis-haps including missed flights and scooter accidents, but  all in all everybody is alive and most have had the time of their lives.

Lennon and Raceen tied the knot under a beautiful sunset on a nice beach.  It was a great ceremony and the island came through with amazing weather.  We all gathered for the wedding, a dinner and some fun.  Many people were there dressed in their island best but that didn’t stop some wedding shenanigans like crazy dances and throwing the groom in the swimming pool!   We had a great meal and many buckets of beer in celebration for the newly weds, it was a great time!

We have been keeping busy with friends and diving.  We said goodbye to Cathrine and J.P. as they have left the island for a five-day motorcycle trip to all the Yucatans Mayan ruins.  We went to rides downtown that have been set up all week for Carnival and had fun on bumper cars and the rollercoaster with some friends. We held a big mango/pool party for our turtles and our kitties, the pictures are below. We also have been shore diving twice this week and we finally found the airplane wreck on the second dive.  It is a good workout to get to it while you swim against the current but there are many sponges and coral formations along the way.  There is a lot of life to see along the reef and at the plane including eels, rays, puffer fish, trigger fish and dozens of parrot fish including a midnight blue parrot that always hangs around the same coral.  Liz and I are on dive 19 and 23 respectively, we just got P.A.D.I. certified at the end of December so we hope to have over 40 by the time we leave!

Carnival is in full swing and we have been downtown every night for the parades and festivals.  The night is alive with colour and music as everyone parties into the early morning. We have been spending our nights hanging out with friends at the “Blue Zone” (Ricky’s beer tent), watching the parades and nightly entertainment, playing carnival games and riding the rides while enjoying great Mexican food and music. Coming up on Tuesday is the parade we can all join in, everyone is getting their costumes ready for the event!

 

 

Turtle Party!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite float, Giant Pastor!

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Blue Zone"