Posted December 21st, 2004, 04:36 PM
Calica/Playa del Carmen: We finally decided to not book an excursion after discussing both the Tulum tour and X-Caret. Instead we took a taxi into Playa from the Calica pier. By the way, that pier is nothing but a rock quarry and the locals set up a tent with items for sale on the days a ship is in port. We walked through downtown Playa until we got to the beach. The day turned out to be absolutely lovely for a walk on the beach. For us, it was perfect weather. It was probably a bit too cold for sunbathing and swimming, but the water wasn't cold. We walked quite a distance on the beach - politely turning down drinks and food about every 500 feet.
We wandered in and out of shops along the main street, Fifth Avenue. We tasted a lot, maybe too much, free tequila so I finally insisted we sit down and eat some food. We decided to just get a snack at that point, so we had chips and salsa and drinks at a sidewalk cafe. It was a very nice, tree lined and shaded cafe and was a perfect place to rest and refuel.
We finally returned to Calica and the Sensation
to relax and change for dinner.
Cozumel: At dinner after Calica, an announcement was made that the Sensation
was going to dock in Cozumel at 1:30 a.m. - much earlier than the planned 7 a.m. time. Passengers were allowed to get off the ship in those early morning hours and it was promised that Fat Tuesdays would be open. Because we had an excursion planned for later that morning, we chose to go to bed instead. We were, however, allowed to get off at the pier until 8 a.m. at which time the Sensation
left the Puerta Maya pier to anchor off the Lungusta pier for tendering after 10:30 a.m.. Naturally, we got off before they moved to avoid the tendering and to make our excursion time.
We had prearranged a cooking class in Cozumel with Martin Valdez. We called his home, as arranged, when we got off the ship. He said he'd pick us up around 9:30, so we window shopped around the pier stores and then crossed the street to wait for our ride. Martin arrived right on time and wisked us away to a local market. There we talked about the ingredients for our main dish - Sopa de Lima - and bought the necessary items. On leaving the market we were talking about the differences between authenic Mexican tacos and what we normally get in the States, so Martin drove us around to a literal "hole-in-the-wall" taco stand run by a friend of his. There he treated us to real tacos - simply chopped up pork that had been roasted over a charcoal fire served on a soft flour totilla shell with the choice of guacamole or hot sauce. After eating that, we asked about corn torillas, so he drove us around to another local stand to buy corn tortilla dough.
Back at Martin's beautiful home, he first made us each a corn tortilla and served it to us warm with cheese. Heavenly!!
Next we chopped up fresh tomatoes, onions, and cilantro to make a salsa. Martin then cut off the tiniest tip of a habenero and diced it up quite finely to add heat to the salsa. We ate some of this with chips, then when I said it wasn't very hot, he added more habenero! Woah! It was now HOT! But, very good - I think I polished off all the salsa while we were making the Sopa de Lima.
Everything was made with fresh ingredients and was not only delicious, but colorful. We enjoyed our soup - served over crushed taco chips and with a slice of lime to squeeze just before eating - at the family dining table. What wonderful hospitality to invite us into their home like that!
I would encourage anyone who could to take this class with Martin - unfortunately time is running out. He has his house on the market (BTW, what looks like a bargain to me at only $150,000) because he wants to return to the States so his twin boys can get a better education. They are 13 now and starting secondary education. If you are going to be in Cozumel in January or February, e-mail Martin and Susan, his lovely wife, at firstname.lastname@example.org
to book a cooking class - you won't regret it!
Always a new adventure, always a new friend to meet!
Fantasy to Bahamas - August 2000
Fascination to Western Caribbean - May 2001
Enchantment of the Seas to Western Caribbean - December 2002
Voyager of the Seas to Canada - June 2004
Sensation to Western Caribbean - December 2004
Victory to Western Caribbean - May 2005
Zenith to Bermuda - July 2006
Destiny to Southern Caribbean - May 2007
Liberty to Western Caribbean - May 2008
Golden Princess to Alaska - June 2009
Pride to Bahamas - December 2016