St. Joseph Church hosted its first ever cruise to Cozumel, January 14-18, 2010.  And, oh, the memories we made.

With more than eight-hundred photos taken and two rather long narratives, it’s easy to understand why verbosity comes to mind.

Our cruise

On the ship, all of us went off in different directions; so I don’t have many photos of our group members. Some of us were together only during Mass, at some of the dinners, and in the lounge area on Thursday. Carnival Ecstasy was so big and had so many people that being in the same place wasn’t a guarantee we’d see each other during the cruise.

At the time I didn’t know how many were in our group— forty-five, sixty— or how many passengers were on board the ship.  One source stated 1,200; the ship’s TV channel, 2,052.  But we were hosted by 973 crew and staff members, according to Jamal Khan, the ship’s maître d’.  And the captain announced that 500 kids were among us.  (After we got back to Port Aransas, Fr. Xaviour told us we’d been sixty-five.)

Saturday morning, we docked in Cozumel at eight and disembarked around nine.  We were told to return by four-thirty, since the ship was scheduled to leave at five.


If you’re thinking uh-oh, yes.  What’s life without some dramarama, right?

Not until Sunday’s debarkation debriefing did we learn from the captain that he’d “lost five years” of his life Saturday evening.  He was too much of a professional to say more, but we all knew what he meant.  The ship had missed its scheduled departure.

Late Saturday afternoon, some of us had waited on the sports deck for the ship to ease its way out of port.  A cold front with lots of rain was expected later that day.

Some of us had gathered to bid farewell to our day in Cozumel the same way we’d greeted it.  We’d taken our first-rate, standing-room-only spots above everyone else below.  The longer we waited, the closer the storm got.  We’d enjoyed the sunny day’s breeze and the gorgeous blue-green waters below, but the immense black veil was rushing to cover us.  When five o’clock rolled around and the ship didn’t start to move away from the pier, we wondered what had held us up.

Without realizing it, we’d gotten stuck in the middle of the unfolding drama.  Two storms were brewing— one looming largely in the sky, the other approaching from below.


Three female miniatures had just passed customs at the opposite end of the very long pier where we were docked.  They had to have been about a fourth of the way when the creme in the dark Oreo wafers spewed out, “Don’t you know how to tell time?  Don’t you follow rules?  The storm’s coming!  Can’t you walk faster?  Run!!!  Don’t walk!!!  You’re LATE!!!

The women tried to run, but their movements took forever.  They crept along the pier in molasses mode until they finally disappeared behind our blind spot.

None of us budged.  I guess we all wondered the same thing: Would the women board the ship before the storm hit?  Would we leave before the storm got there?  Would the captain have difficulty pulling out now that the wind had shifted?


Within fifteen to twenty minutes, we had our answer.  The ship eased away from the dock with some effort, leaving behind the storm’s heavily chilled air and huge cold raindrops.

Listening to the captain, I re-lived Saturday’s dilemma.  Because the three women had delayed the ship’s departure, the crew had been forced to make adjustments due to the weather; but no one noticed, except those of us on the sports deck.

The questions I’d asked Steven before disembarking in Cozumel had been answered Saturday morning.  Passengers had been told— not asked— to return by four-thirty, and every single person had been checked out and checked in with his/her issued photo ID as well as photographed.  There had never been room for compromise.  Yet, the three women had chosen to disregard the clearly stated directives the same way the captain chose to wait for them regardless of the weather.

I would’ve been scared witless, not to mention super embarrassed, even if a boat had taken me to the ship afterwards.  So, yes.  My pea brain had already processed lots of scenarios before setting off to enjoy our day in Cozumel.  Being so far from home, it was reassuring to see Saturday afternoon’s drama played out so positively.

On a more personal note, some of us donned green not so elegantly during the cruise.  I think the natural ginger capsules I took for weeks helped more than my rah-rah talks: You can do it!  Hold it in!  No, no!  That’s not a sour taste in your mouth letting you know it’s coming!  Think of the damage to your teeth!

Then, sometime during Mass Friday afternoon, we all heard A VERY LOUD CLAP OF THUNDER!!!  Whoa!  That’s when I realized that my motion sickness had miraculously cleared up.

Just like that, I got my sea legs!!!  I could finally look out the window and even walk outdoors without wondering if I was about to add to the body of water.  And I could leave my barf bag in the cabin.

Others weren’t as fortunate, though.  Green faces continued to struggle with the ship’s partying, rocking and rolling day and night.  I’ve been in their shoes with the motion sickness, so I’m pretty sure they wanted to get back to Galveston really fast.

Nevertheless, Fr. Xaviour’s excellent adventure was truly worthwhile.  Our first cruise was such an enjoyable experience that folks we spoke with are hoping he makes this an annual event.

Our day in Cozumel

Steven and I visited both a museum and one of Mexico’s national parks.  The latter, Chankanaab, has more than three hundred plant species and is the only botanical garden on the island.


We were really taken with the museum showing of three seven-minute videos— each a different perspective of an array of cultural or historic scenes depicting Mexico— running simultaneously on three large, separate-though-adjacent screens.  It took some getting used to, but we would easily have enjoyed two or three more viewings had we not been on a schedule.



From there, we made our way through the building, viewed the displays, and walked out onto the grounds, which had many scale models of ancient Mayan structures, early Spanish colonial buildings, and churches.  Astrid, our Discover Mexico tour guide, pointed out that Pablo, the iguana of Chichen Itza, likes to play Godzilla on that particular display.


During our walk— and, yes, I photographed all the displays but chose only some for the photo file here— we stopped for refreshments and ate some of the most delicious ice cream ever.  We were served three individual flavors of our choosing in a cup.  Yum!

Next, we visited the shop and admired the handmade place settings.  There were other items to be oohed and ahhed over, I’m sure; but I was really taken with the place mats and napkins, so that’s what we focused on.

National park

Then we were shuttled to Chankanaab, which was about two miles up the road.  What an experience that was!


After an introduction to the park at the large, outdoor map within the park’s entrance, six of us opted for lunch at La Laguna, one of two Mexican restaurants in the park.  Astrid, a certified lifeguard, told us she thought it best to accompany the couple snorkeling for the first time; so we agreed to meet the shuttle by no later than three.  Then the six of us, three couples, went off to enjoy a very pleasant meal together— conversing as if we’d known each other for years— before setting off in totally different directions.


Steven and I explored the garden, which was much like a maze because of its many pathways.  We photographed the replicas of famous Native American statues and artifacts found throughout Mexico, plants, and anything else that captured our attention.

But, again, what’s peacefulness without a bit of drama, right?








Fight or flight

I was pestered beyond belief not only by small black insects akin to mosquitoes, but also by a bully iguana.  Sheesh!

What those bugs were, I’m not sure, but, oh, my, gosh!  My legs were itching painfully, even though Steven couldn’t fathom what I was fussing about.  Then it occurred to me to rub hand sanitizer on the bites.  What a relief— until I had an encounter with a very healthy looking iguana that let Steven walk past but taunted me with its hissing.  Each time I tried to take a step, it bobbed its head toward me!

I gasped loudly, letting out a scream of sorts.


I was really scared, and the thought of Steven abandoning me there panicked me.  I felt that the iguana was daring me to go past.  It played troll to one of my three Billy Goats Gruff.  But, seeing Steven turn down the path away from me, I took my chance.  I clenched my Coolpix, held my breath, and ran as fast as I could to avoid the iguana’s rushing at me, or whatever it was going to do.

Once safely away, I looked back and thought how silly I must’ve looked.

Okay, okay, so the iguana was small compared to me; but its smug attitude and its puffy throat cautioned me right away that it preferred fight over flight when all I wanted was to get by unscathed.


If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then the following contemplative scenes equal thousands.  Photos were taken at Chankanaab National Park in Cozumel, Mexico on January sixteenth.










Links of interest…  Chankanaab…  Cozumel…  Mexico

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