Cozumel Circle Tour: The cult of Ixchel - and who needs a snorkel?
Our concierge at the hotel arranged for Raul, a taxi driver with a fair command of English, to drive us around the island. We originally decided that a 5 hour excursion would be fine but as it turned out we added another hour at the end because the water at Playa Corona was so great.
We started going north on the coastal road and then turned east along the center road that runs east-west across the island. We turned off for six kilometers along a not-so-great road to San Gervasio, the best preserved Mayan ruins on Cozumel. There were six different cruise ships docked in Cozumel and on the road we were passed by people racing in jeeps along the dirt road. As we arrived at the ruins tour buses were also pulling up disgorging hordes of tourists. I guess next week we will be part of the hordes if we do any excursions off our cruise ship.
Compared to the magnificent Mayan ruins at Chetzen Itza the site here was smaller and far less well preserved. But we still took about 70 minutes to walk around the site.
The most important temple left there was dedicated to the Mayan Goddess Ixchel. According to the handout written by Ric Hajovsky, she was associated with the moon, sex, childbirth, disease, beekeeping, planting, water, writing, and weaving. Obviously a woman of many interests- actually rather like me – except for the disease and beekeeping – although as a retired doctor I suppose disease would have also been considered one of my interests. Hmmm...
The cult of Ixchel, again according to the handout, “was introduced to Cozumel by the Itza Mayans in the Late Classic period” [1000 – 1200 AD] “when they arrived on the Island.” Many of the building were erected later in the Post Classic era [1200 to 1650 AD]. The handout goes on to tell us that this feminine cult was venerated by Mayan women who made pilgrimages to the holy island of Cozumel from all over the Mayan world.
Today the site seems to be mainly inhabited by many iguanas who take advantage of the warmth of the stones to stretch out and take a little nap.
One of the other interesting ruins was called the Little Hands Structure. It may have been a residence with an inner temple. You can still see the red colored hand prints on the walls.
After we left the archeological site we continued east across the island to connect up with the road running south round the eastern periphery of the island.
Check the map on the first posting on Cozumel (Seven Days in Cozumel) to get an idea of where we drove. The northern part of the island is not easily accessible and most visitors and tourists stay south of the east-west road.
Our first beach stop was at Playa Chen Rio where we had lunch and then swam in the clear warm water of the sheltered little bay.
At lunch, purely for the sake of keeping up with my research I ordered a Pina Colada. It was huge and had a fair amount of alcohol.
For lunch we decided to share the lobster platter and what a great choice. We got three large succulent lobster tails each on a bed of salad with cucumber slices, tomato and avocado, and crisp French fries. Thoroughly sated and with a touch of alcohol in our systems we relaxed on the sand with forays into the water.
We watched a lone kite surfer - pretty amazing actually the degree of control that he had.
The water was warm and felt like silk against my overheated skin. It was great to just float over the swells and look up at the clear sky. Nothing to do but be utterly relaxed.
Our next stop was at Playa Corona, which is well known as a great snorkeling destination. I put on my water shoes that I got on the South Pacific cruise, and waded out over the rocky bed into the sea. I did not even have to snorkel to see the fish. They swam around me – huge schools of tiny darting fish, larger silver fish, smaller striped black and yellow fish. Quite an experience.
We ended up spending 6 hours on our circle tour and it was a great day. Hiring our private taxi was worthwhile. It cost about $80 dollars each before tip and was worth every cent.
Since this was Valentine’s day, the hotel had a special barbecue grill evening at the Trattoria for those who did not want to do the Valentine’s Day dinner in La Chopa.
We sat out on tables set out on the beach adjacent to the Trattoria and ordered from the grill. They had laid out a salad bar for the additional fixing. I had a barbecued rib-eye which was absolutely tender and perfectly cooked to a medium-rare doneness.
Pat had the barbecued pork-ribs, with mashed potatoes … and cauliflower which she declared the best cauliflower she has had in ages. We could not resist the dessert with its colouful heart design.
With a glass of wine - we both were very mellow. We returned to the room and put on some more salsa music.
Another lovely evening in paradise.