Four years ago, the little island of Cozumel had its butt kicked by Hurricane Wilma.
Since then, there have been loads of improvements in the San Miguel area.
One of my former complaints about San Miguel was the condition of the sidewalks – they used to be a mess. One had to pay attention while walking around the side streets, as the sidewalks were often cracked and broken, or even missing in places. The attention that one paid to the walking surface often took away the ability to notice low-hanging air conditioners over the sidewalk – often with painful results.
Today, three or four blocks in from Av. Melgar (the street along the shore), all of the sidewalks have been replaced. They are considered “walking streets”, with one narrow car lane and the rest of what was once the street is an expanded sidewalk, complete with benches.
On every block, there is a small cutout that allows for parking one or two cars, but these are marked as “no parking” zones – they’re likely intended to be used for loading and unloading. It’s a big difference, and walking around Cozumel is a much better experience now. If you need to park, however, you’ve got one side of Av. Melgar, and that’s about it.
One neat thing about I always liked about Cozumel was the Sunday night fiesta in the square in San Miguel. They still have it – we were there on Sunday. I took this little video. They had a band in the square playing traditional Mexican music.
The same band was also performing on Friday and Saturday night – that’s a change from before. Also, the square was really clean – the city has people walking around with dustpans and brooms keeping it that way. The whole area seemed much cleaner than it used to be. Monica noticed that as well.
Dive shops seem to be the same as before – the same names are on the buildings – we saw other dive boats (although less than we used to) at the reef when we went diving.
Just one caution – there have been improvements to the airport as well. There is still a monopoly on transportation from the airport – you HAVE to use one of the vans. It’s about $10 each, and you need to buy a ticket at the counter to the right. As I haven’t been in the airport since it was renovated, I didn’t see the ticket counter right away. I ended up being shanghaied and brought over to a desk, where I was subjected to a “soft sell” for some sort of eco-park on the mainland. I tried as nicely as I could to explain to the nice young man that I wasn’t interested, and that I only wanted to buy a ticket for the van taxi. After a few minutes, I was handed off to another guy, who offered me various cut-rate dive prices and car rentals in exchange for a promise to visit his “eco-park”. This guy was more persistant, and I had to make my point forcefully that I wasn’t interested in his eco-park that there was nothing he could offer me to get me to visit there – in fact, I was getting p*ssed off. All I wanted was a taxi ticket.
Having got my point across, he spit out “last window on the left” and we walked away, having wasted a half hour of our time. This sucks. I’m sure that if we had attended the eco-park, we would have been subjected to more hard sell tactics in order to purchase some sort of time share. Hey, Mexico! We’re on vacation. We didn’t come here to buy anything – in fact, we’re here to relax. Nobody goes on vacation to buy a time share. Sometimes it happens, due to a combination of excessive politeness, low resistance to sales tactics and excessive consumption of alcohol, but NOBODY DOES IT ON PURPOSE!
Is there anyone, anywhere who wakes up in the morning and says, “Hey, I think I’ll go buy a time share today”???? Sure, I want to put out $15-30K so I can have some offshore company charge me $1K in maintenance fees every year. What I’ll get in exchange is a week in a hotel. Hey, I’ll just book the hotel myself and use the extra money to pay for the rest of the vacation…..
If you enter the Cozumel airport, do your best to avoid these people. They wasted 30 minutes of our time, just because I’m too polite to tell them to bug off. I just wanted to buy a taxi ticket. If it happened to me, it could happen to you.
All for now, I gotta pack.