Day 4 was Cozumel day! We had a crazy day planned, but our excursion didn’t start until later in the morning so we had the opportunity to sleep in and take our time with breakfast. I woke up at 6:30am (thanks to my lovely internal alarm clock!) but lazed around in bed before getting up and ready for the day.
(We were side-by-side another Carnival ship when we pulled into the port! There was also a Royal Caribbean cruise docked so Cozumel was filled with tourists!)
In Cozumel, we signed up to participate in The Amazing Cozumel Race, a mini-version of the reality TV show The Amazing Race (a show my mom and I are both addicted to and yes, it’s on my “30 Before 30” list to audition for the show.) The reviews of the excursion were great, gaining 4.9 out of 5 stars from 60+ reviews. We weren’t running to win any medals, just wanted a different type of excursion that allowed us to see and do more in Cozumel.
We got off the boat, checked in, and picked a team name (The Stella’s, after my mom’s favorite beer! Ha.) We were given a race packet with a map and items we would use during the race, as well as a working cell phone to use if we ever got lost. There was one woman doing the excursion alone so she joined our team. This was both good and bad. Good because she was fluent in Spanish and had no problem asking random strangers for directions. (This is not our strength!) Bad because she was very overbearing, a bit bossy, and kind of annoying. She just had one of those personalities that I clash with. I don’t do well with loud, overbearing personalities. But, in the same token, I’m not sure we would have done as well as we did without her so she was a worthwhile member of our team. It just soured the experience just a bit.
The race started by everyone hopping into a van and heading over to Margaritaville, which is in the heart of downtown San Miguel – Cozumel’s largest town. We took a race photo, learned more about the race, and were handed our first clue!
The easiest way for me to recap the race without detailing every single thing we did (mundane!) is making a list of all the fun (and not so fun) things that happened during the race. (Also, I took about 0 pictures during the race itself, because I was too focused on winning! No, not really. But I was focused on the race and not on taking pictures.)
- Walking about a mile in downtown San Miguel in the heat of the day, ankles burning, and seeing team after team run by us. This is when I started regretting signing up for this excursion and cursing myself. We’re only 10 minutes into the race at this point so not the best start. Not the best start at all.
- Exploring an authentic Cozumel history museum. All the information plaques were in Spanish, French, or Italian (which made it hard to look for clues!) but it was still very interesting to walk around all the artifacts and fill out our worksheet, which would lead us to our next clue. (And, quite frankly, I was so happy to be in air conditioning after walking around the streets for 20 minutes!)
- Hearing all the local shop owners shout at us, “Amazing Racers!” every time we were in the streets. I had heard that the local community gets really involved and helpful but it was so neat to witness it firsthand. They would let us know how many blocks to go until our next destination and shout and cheer as we passed. It was really, really cool!
- My mom getting a henna tattoo! The tattoo had a Mayan symbol on it that would lead us to our next clue.
- A really annoying boat ride that would take us to a sunken ship where we would find another clue. I had mentioned to my mom and our partner that I wanted to snorkel for the clue. It just seemed fun and I was really excited to get in the water and do it. (Plus, I just wanted to cool off!) But our partner decided she wanted to snorkel, too, and took over. At this point, we had been racing for a little over an hour and I was hot, tired, and hungry and just wanted to get done soon. So I decided to let our partner snorkel and my mom and I stayed in the boat. I’m bummed I didn’t get the chance to snorkel, but it was for the best, I suppose.
- Working with another team to decipher a long clue that would give us our next destination to find. It felt like we were really in The Amazing Race, especially after we followed them to find that destination and beat them to the lady holding the clue.
- Racing through the streets of the real Cozumel. Thus far, I had only been to the very touristy sections: Mayan ruins, a resort, and a zip-lining place. With this race, we were running along the streets, passing local businesses and seeing the locals just going about their day. It was… eye-opening. Life in Cozumel is a hard life and it was evident in how run-down the city is. But then there is just something steadfast and strong and welcoming in these people. People who aren’t afraid of hard work and a life filled with only the necessities.
- Knowing the answer to one clue within seconds and being able to pass two teams in the process. I read that knowing Cozumel history would come in handy so I did some light research. And by light research, I mean I spent 5 minutes on Cozumel’s Wikipedia page. I had about 3-4 questions I kept quizzing my mom on and one of the questions I was quizzing her on ended up being the question for a clue! Go me. (And to get the answer, teams had to find people milling about the streets in a very deserted part of town. They weren’t allowed to go into any of the local businesses. So glad we didn’t have to do that!)
- Having my teammate almost get hit by a car. YEAH. That was frightening! She was crossing a street and looking backwards, asking people for directions to our next location and I had to shout at her to stop and the car had to swerve. The car was moving pretty fast, so it really wouldn’t have been pretty.
- Being in a real Mexican grocery store. One of our clues directed us to this place where we had to find a vegetable and a shoe. I felt very lost during this task because there was a huge language barrier and most of the time, even our teammate who spoke decent Spanish was feeling misunderstood. But this place, man. Like, it was COZUMEL. It was dirty and unkempt but raw and beautiful and earthy. It was a real grocer with a meat shop and a vegetable shop and dirty walkways. Not the pristine supermarket I’m used to! I wish I could have taken a picture. It was just so beautifully Cozumel.
- Finding the finish line! Oh, my goodness, you have NO FREAKING IDEA how fabulous it was to come upon a cantina and see a black-and-white checkered flag waving right outside. We ran to it and came into the cantina to the cheers of all the other teams! We finished! YAY!
We wound up coming in 6th out of 11th with a time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. In contrast, it usually takes teams over 2 hours to complete the race so we all defied the odds. The winning teams finished about 15-20 minutes ahead of us so we weren’t too far behind. I was proud of us for not coming in last – my only goal!
Everyone got a free drink so I ordered a strawberry daiquiri (the strongest daiquiri I’ve ever had! I couldn’t finish it!) and my mom had a pina colada. I ordered food, but it wasn’t very good. At this point, we were very tired and hot and wet from the boat ride and we decided to go back to the cruise port.
The rest of the day was pretty low-key. We walked around the shops, ate a very lunch late on the ship, and took a long nap until dinnertime. I was wiped after being up so early and running around in the Cozumel heat. Dinner was fun and eventful, like always. (We received applause again for surviving the race!) After dinner, my mom and I went to the talent show which was a surprisingly good show (two singers and a cheer squad). There was a Mexican fiesta deck party going on but we decided to go back to the cabin for sleep.
Our last day on the ship will be recapped on Friday!