Sunday morning we tinkered doing odd jobs around the boat before heading to the hotel’s beach. Bobbing wasn’t the most enjoyable experience we’d ever had as the waves bounced us around and invariably we landed on top of rocks buried under the sand. But we soldiered on LOL.
Having returned to Morphie to get cleaned up, and have dinner, we went to the main pool area to watch the fire show, which was really good. Returning to the marina we were accosted by a security guard who tried to stop us going to the docks as they are private – took a while to convince him we actually had a boat in the marina and to let us pass. Irritating but reassuring all at the same time.
Tuesday morning and we headed out in a taxi to Cancun airport to pick up our hire car – much cheaper option than renting one from the resort. We finally managed to meet up with the appropriate company – dozens of rental agencies here – and we were taken off in a minibus to their site. It took about 45 minutes to get the car and paperwork sorted out and then we were off.
Our first destination was a Home Depot near Playa del Carmen….. We liked the spacious dual carriageways with good signage – but some of the joining / exiting lanes are downright scary! Anyway……we found the way (eventually) into Home Depot and worked our way through our shopping list…. We did pretty well and have most items that we need to put Morphie to bed now – we were planning to buy this stuff in Panama but hey, no worries, we can adapt just like our cruising plans!
We returned quite late in the day so ended up having a quiet night on board having watched a spectacular sunset.
Wednesday morning we were up early and drove back down to Playa del Carmen to get the ferry to Cozumel. We used our iPad and Bad Elf as a sat nav so we found the car park pretty easily and wandered down to the terminal, enjoying the views on the way.
Just before the terminal we were stopped by a number of car hire companies and were persuaded by their argument to pre-purchase a hire car in Cozumel for the day. Very reasonable priced so not expecting much – but avoids the queues at the other end, particularly as it is a three cruise ship day in Cozumel. Anyway……we waited for the ferry…..and were pleased to make the 10 o’clock crossing. It was very nice too – air conditioned / drinks / snacks and nice seats. We enjoyed the trip over.
Arriving in Cozumel and we wandered down the main drag away from the terminal to find the hire car office admiring the horse and trap tourist carriages.
The office was only one block away and we gave them our paperwork – and waited for the car to arrive. This took a while….sigh…. We had chosen the cheapest option which was a VW Beetle convertible, and a purple one turned up!!!
We looked around the car – shocked by its poor condition – and then realised that it didn’t even have an accelerator pedal just the linkage, no handbrake, no working seat belts and the passenger seat wasn’t even attached to the floor!!! Richard declined to take the car.
We then asked for our money back…..and they said no refunds allowed. We argued that if they provided us with a road-worthy car we would be happy to honour our contract – they just needed to honour their part or give us a refund. Back and forth it went – until finally they agreed to give us another car. And then we waited again for it to arrive…..sigh….. OK this will do – so we agreed to take the automatic Chevy ‘upgrade’ that they gave us.
We drove off down the road looking for the new marina – which is not on the charts yet. We found the entrance from the road about four miles out of town and drove to the car park, which was pretty busy. We realised that half of the marina was working boats – snorkel / dive / fishing boats – and there was one solitary catamaran in the rest of it. Nice concrete docks with all slips alongside so not looking too bad.
We walked the docks until we could eyeball the entrance and – with our handheld Garmin plotter – we put in a waypoint in preparation for a trip over here.
We finally found the marina office and they confirmed they had space for us – no, really?!? – and also confirmed the cost at (US) $40 a day. That’s pretty steep considering this marina has no laundry; no bars; no restaurants; no pools; no wifi; no nothing – nothing, not even a taxi rank or even walking distance to one. We spoke to the people on the catamaran and they confirmed that even the showers and toilets were not kept clean…. Hmmmmm… Realistically we would need to hire a car for the whole time we stayed here… and the only convenient thing about it is the walk to the dive boat. Don’t think this place is for us yet – may be nice when they finish building the rest of it….
Moving on – as we had the car – we decided to take ourselves on an island tour for the rest of the day. A few miles up the road we stopped at Playa Corona and had a couple of sodas – first shock, the price. 40 pesos each –v- the 15 pesos we’re paying here in Puerto Morelos. We decided to move on….
Guess what, the car wouldn’t start!!! We tried – the chef tried – the waiter tried – the manager tried – the cleaner tried – all to no avail. So, very kindly, the cleaner phoned the car rental company and we waited….and waited….and waited….and eventually they turned up with another car for us, another Chevy. Another wreck but at least it was drivable – so we took it.
The main road goes through the middle of the island and you can’t see anything….we had just decided to turn off onto a dirt road to visit some Mayan ruins…and Richard changed his mind. He realised that if we went off road – with no phone – and if this car didn’t start we really were royally up the creek without a paddle. Having no confidence in the car we decided to call it a day. So we just drove it back into town and dropped it off.
We then wandered back to the terminal and decided to have a late lunch in the Mexican restaurant – which, actually, comes highly recommended. Well….we had a very light lunch and a couple of drinks each….and then got another pricing shock – paying more for this than we had paid in Isla Mujeres for a nice meal in a restaurant including a bottle of wine! Obviously Cozumel caters to the cruise ship crowd and prices accordingly….. Fed up we headed back onto the ferry and returned to Playa del Carmen.
Back into the square and we were just in time to see the Mayan spectacle of the guys going up a tall pole and then flinging themselves into the air, just held on by a rope, as they circle down to the floor. Great to see – and glad we made it in time.
We decided to return to Puerto Morelos at this point and drove back up the motorway and, feeling hungry again by now, we had a fantastic Chinese meal for the fifth of the cost of the light lunch! Having had a tiring and frustrating day we had a few pontoonies in the beach bar before having an early night.
Thursday morning we headed out to Puerto Aventuras – another possible stop on our future itinerary. We got a quote for the marina – at $24 a day much more reasonable – although it is a real shame that there are so few anchorages on this coast as we really like being on the hook rather than tied to a dock all the time. This marina narrow entrance is tricky in the wrong conditions – and was interesting to see the flag system they use.
Sadly there is no pool or beach access here though – although you can pay for a day pass into the fancy hotels that surround the marina. Lots of tourists around – mostly to see the sad dolphins and sea lions in their fenced-in prisons….
Another place to ponder on – certainly lots of bars, shops and restaurants to visit, but that’s about it.
Moving on we headed off inland to Coba – a Mayan site that we had not visited before. There is a lot of this area that has not been excavated but is notable for its extensive system of ceremonial white roads (sacbeoob), remote jungle landscape and several interesting pyramids – including the tallest pyramid on the Yucatán Peninsula. The main network of roads was built between 600 and 800 AD and during this period the stelae were built. These were sculptured stone monuments on which the basic events of the ruling class were registered – the inhabitants, however, who did not belong to this social class lived on the outskirts of the central zone, in houses not too dissimilar from those inhabited by Mayans in this region today. The whole site covers 76 kms and is based around two lakes. As this site is so vast we decided to hire a tricycle taxi to take us around – and the driver was pure Mayan so had some interesting stories to tell us too, especially about his grandparents who, to this day, still only speak Mayan with no Spanish at all.
We stopped and started and had a wonderful time – particularly taken by the two Pita courts – and, of course, the huge pyramid Ixmoja which stands at 138 feet.
Richard – aka mountain goat – was very keen to get to the top. I was kitted out in trainers in preparation but realised that as the steps were so uneven and worn I was risking my already dodgy ankle, so sat at the bottom in the shade while he ventured to the top.
Back at the bottom I was people watching as many tried – and failed – to reach the summit. Then Richard reappeared ready to start his descent and, it was clear, that this was much more difficult so I was glad to have stayed put. Anyway back in our taxi and back to the car park – had been a great visit.
We headed back in the car towards the coast and enjoyed the sights of all the colour rugs being offered for sale on the side of the road – we don’t really need a rug on the boat so we just carried on by…..
In the evening we headed back into the hotel and ended up practising Spanish with Roberto in the infinity pool bar and decided not to venture to the ‘circus’ show.
Friday morning and our last day with the car – Richard did some DIY in the anchor locker to stop the chain getting caught on the windlass motor while I had all our provisions out from the cupboards. I made lists and by lunchtime we were ready to go……shopping of course! Back to the supermarket – list in hand – and back to Morphie fully laden. Phew….
We then decided to go cool off in the pool and met a really nice family who were staying in a suite and had their own butler!!! They spotted our BVI Soggy Dollar coozies and it turns out they had done a sailing trip there – they were interested to hear about our travels and, when they realised we were not all-inclusive, they decided to adopt us into their family and the drinks started flowing. Thanks guys!!!
Later on we returned to Morphie to get cleaned up and had dinner…..smoked pork and onions with linguine in an alfredo sauce tonight.….before returning to the hotel to get a drink to take into the show. This was billed as ‘Broadway’ so we were looking forward to musicals – and it started off with a lot of promise with Phantom of the Opera. Then it was Grease…then Aladdin…then little Mermaid… Well the crowd were obviously delighted if the whooping and hollering was anything to go by – we were a little bemused that Disney animated movies could come under a ‘Broadway’ show title…. Oh well – never mind, back to the bar.
We chatted with Roberto again – in Spanish of course – and then with Max who is Russian. Finally we walked back to the marina and Richard decided the night was still young and wanted to go into the disco….and we ended up dancing and having fun and didn’t actually get back to Morphie until 1.00 am!!!
This morning – Saturday – and we’ve taken the car back and returned to the marina. We’re chilling out on board right now and are thinking about whether to go and see tonight’s show or not – it is billed as PreHispanic so I guess they mean Mayan – but we’ll see. What next? Well…we need to finalise our future passage plans as there are a lot of routing options…so will let you know when we know LOL. In the meantime, having a great time in Mexico that’s for sure!!!
Bye for now