When The Harbor Was Closed

The wind whistled in over the breakwall, singing an angry song as it sliced through the palm roofed cabana where the empty rainbow-hued hammocks gyrated wildly. The waves beat ferociously at the concrete barricade, casting liquid shards of water in all directions.

Sarita, one of the other divers who happens to be from Michigan, was the first to inform me that the morning’s sailing would be delayed. I walked over to the dive center where I learned that the harbor was closed, and it was unclear if it would open at all today. The weather itself wasn’t bad, as there were clouds in the sky but there was no real threat of rain. Rather, it was just too windy and choppy to go diving.

So I returned to my room where I sat on my patio reading, listening to the weather, and watching the waves and sky. Every hour or so I walked back to check on the status of the day’s dives. Eventually I was informed that the dive boat would be departing at noon.

Basically I’m a hobbit and I don’t like to miss meals. A noon departure was suboptimal for my stomach, so I decided not to go. Today would have been my last day of diving anyway, as that’s all that my package included, but I fly out late on Saturday and can dive tomorrow instead.

Having embraced a day of relaxation, reading, and perhaps a walk to town, I perused my book for a bit and then went to the hotel’s restaurant where I took my lunch outside overlooking the sea (I’m not eating inside at all this trip given the pandemic. I just don’t think it can be done safely).

Trish and Nelson from our boat were sitting at the next table and we started talking. They are going home to Florida tomorrow morning so couldn’t dive today anyway. Instead, Nelson has rented a Jeep to go see the island and they invited me to join them.

I always worry about imposing at moments like this. Somewhere in my mind I wonder if people are just being polite. Do they really mean it? And in truth they are being polite, but I have to learn to accept that it’s more than that and enjoy myself. So I decided to go.

The goal was to see some of the few remaining Mayan ruins here and circumnavigate the island. I clambered into the back seat and we headed out, pausing briefly in town (San Miguel) only to find the Hard Rock Cafe, where Nelson wanted a shirt, closed. So we headed south, then to El Cedral. There aren’t a ton of remnants of the Mayans here, but this is one of them.

El Cedral used to be the capital of Cozumel, but little of the original town remains, with the exception of this fertility temple dating to 800 AD. The rest was destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century and by the US Army Corps of Engineers when they built an airport during World War II. Anybody who touches the temple will apparently get pregnant soon. The local guide was very brave.

We paused in town to taste some of the local spirits, but none of us wanted to pay the high price they were asking, so instead bought a second round of fresh coconuts (we had bought one on arrival) and returned to the road.

Our next destination was Punta Sur, where a lighthouse stands at the southern tip of the island. In truth we never quite made it there, instead ending our trek at the end of the road, near a dive bar that stands where the waves pound away at the rocky shore. The sun shone down warming our skin and it was glorious.

We intended to stop at the remains of San Gervasio, but Trish, Nelson, and I were talking and somehow missed the turn-off, instead finding ourselves back in San Miguel. The Hard Rock Cafe was open so we stopped to get Nelson his shirt.

Wandering through the store looking at things, I considered for a moment that I don’t have any traditions of collecting souvenirs when I travel. Other than a shirt on dive trips, I don’t commemorate my journeys with magnets, keychains, or shot glasses. And then I realized that I have this blog, my written memories. And for me that’s perfect.

Back at the hotel we parted ways and Trish texted to let me know that I had missed a great sunset. And the fierce line of orange at the horizon told me that, yes, indeed it had been a spectacular ending to a spectacular day.

And I think I might have made a friend.

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