Day 6 Part two, Snorkeling.

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Posted by Dee from MN from ( on lunes, enero 27, 2003 at 23:50:36 :

While Jim sits and finishes his leisurely breakfast, I am energized and anxious to get going. I take a walk around the island to get my bearings. There are 3 main beach areas on the island, separated by hills or a high ridge. The first beach where the water taxis let you off is called Playa Cuachalalata (or something very close. I never saw any identifying signs, but I asked the waiter to write it down for me, and thatís what it looked like. ) Thatís where we ate our breakfast.

If you walk along the beach and follow the path up the hill, your next view is of Playa Coral, a very rocky and scenic beach to the left, where most of the snorkeling takes place. This is where we plan to settle in eventually. A few people are in the water, but it is not crowded yet.

You can enter the water near the center of the beach where the footing is sandiest but the coral grows very shallow all over the area, everyone must squeeze into a small place in order to enter or exit the water.. A few people are in the water, but it is not crowded yet. I have yet to see the third beach, so I continue on the path, down the hill and turn to the right which brings me to another pretty, sandy beach. This is Playa Varadero, a prettier twin of Playa Cuachalalata.

This beach is a little more isolated (longer walk) and less busy than the first, and it looks like there could be good snorkeling along the base of the hill along the left shore. But now I am approached by the same man whose $100 P boat ride we turned down on Playa Linda. He remembers me, and reminds me that we promised to come eat at his restaurant! Did we? I think we may have generally nodded and been agreeable about something vague just to get away from him after we turned down his boat offer, but I really donít remember a restaurant promise! Business must be slow here, because he sticks to me like a tack. I tell him that we are planning to snorkle on Playa Coral, and maybe when we decide to eat we might come over to Varadero. Another man calls me over to take a picture of a huge hanging sailfish that has been brought in by a tourist couple. The poor thing, which must have been magnificent when alive, is already dried off and will surely spoil soon in the heat. I decline to take a picture of this corpse.

I go back over the small rise to Playa Coral and look around for a nice isolated table. The restaurants are arranged in tight rows all together, and the only way to tell where one starts and ends, is by the color of the table cloths. A boy calls me over to his area at the farthest end, and I decide that would be a good spot. I go back for Jim and the backpacks. He has settled our bill of 210 P. We walk back up the hill for another view.

This really is a beautiful island. It would make a perfect Hollywood movie set, hills, rocks, sandy beaches, dramatic vistas. Too bad that the beaches have to be overcrowded with tables and palapas, similar to Las Gatas. We just love these places to death by trying to cram as many bodies as possible onto each inch of beach. I donít know what the solution is. Who will volunteer not to go so we can reduce environmental pressure?

Okay, time to get in the water. My first foray is to the left as entering, along the rock wall of the island. I see a few big fish that I canít identify, as they look different from the Caribbean fish I am used to. But the visibility is only a few feet, probably from the stirred up backwash of the waves hitting the rocks. By this time it is 11:00 and the snorkeling groups have arrived in force. After a short swim, I head back to our table. We are now surrounded by many people on all sides. No solitude for sure! I rest and read for a while, watching our stuff so that Jim can go wander for a while. When he gets back, I am ready for another snorkle. This time I swim to the right, along the edge of the reef. I suspend myself in very shallow water, watching the many colorful fish of all sizes. This is much better! I have the little area all to my self and regret that I left my underwater disposable camera on the table. The clarity is much better here. After a few minutes, I do go back to shore and get the camera. But swimming back out, I am unable to find the exact same spot, and though I do get some pictures of fish, I have missed my best opportunity. (I have not had a chance to develop those pictures yet, will post later, if any turn out useable.)

My snorkeling is probably done for the day, as the beach and water are getting more and more crowded. A very large, loud group of tourists has moved in next to us, and reading or relaxing is impossible. We are ready to leave, but have not spent any money yet, due to our late breakfast. We feel we should pay something for the use of the facilities, so we split an order of quesadillas with soft drinks. About 3:00 PM we head back for the water taxi dock. The boat driver seems very young, and looks at our tickets carefully, re-counting heads and tickets three or four times over, before he is satisfied and takes us across. Again, we plan to bus back to Zihua, but by the time we struggle to the top of the street, we really want to be back in our hotel, so we wimp out once again, and take one of the taxis waiting at the top of the road. Going back is $100 P, instead of the $80 coming, but itís worth it. Somehow I have sliced off a flap of skin across the top of my little toe, and also have a blister from my sandal on the same foot. Iím glad I wonít have to limp from town back to the Irma.

Back at the Irma, I decide to try a quick snorkle in front of the hotel, since there are a few rocks that might hold fish. But the water is too churned up for decent visibility, so I give up shortly. Time for a long shower and a good nap.

Supper is at Casa Vieja, just a few blocks away. Very nice dťcor, and unusual items on the menu, hard to choose, everything looks good. I settle on the grilled tuna brochet with mushrooms and peppers, and Jim has some kind of chicken in a special sauce. With 3 piŮa coladas, the pre-tip bill comes to 335 P, the most weíve paid so far.

Despite our morning misadventures, this day has turned out fine after all. I do recommend Isla Ixta for snorkeling and I do recommend going early Ė just not before 9:00 Ė and bring your own breakfast of coffee and rolls if you do! And thatís all I have to say about that.

Day 7 to follow.

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