My Girl Scout Troop Went on a Caribbean Cruise... and on Day #5, We Went to Cozumel (And It Changed My Life!)

My Girl Scout Troop Went on a Caribbean Cruise... and on Day #5, We Went to Cozumel (And It Changed My Life!)

 It was a beautiful morning in Cozumel!

Will had slept deeply and woke up feeling much better, although still pretty tired, so it was just as well that she had another twelve or so hours in quarantine. We decided that Matt would stay on the ship with her that day, to handle any further medical center communications and to work on getting her rehydrated. So, happy that Will would be in good hands, I left them in the room and went out on deck to get myself some breakfast, find some Girl Scouts, and get my first look at Cozumel:

Another cruiser up on the top deck with me and Syd said that she'd been to this port many times, and there are often sea turtles swimming in the shallow water between the pier and the shore! I later told the Girl Scouts I was chaperoning on our excursion this as we were walking down the pier, and accidentally halted all forward momentum for what felt like a very long time:

Check out how forested it is just beyond the beach. Apparently much of the interior of Cozumel is like this, and there are all kinds of little nature reserves, archaeological sites, and cenotes to visit. I really want to come back someday!

We were all much better organized this morning, since Carnival hadn't, you know, changed and then unchanged our disembarkation time, so I connected with all the other Girl Scouts and chaperones, we got our day planned and arranged to our liking, and then I popped back into the stateroom to grab my bag and say goodbye to my precious darling baby before leaving the ship.

I hated leaving Will behind, but I put it out of my mind, because I had two different Girl Scouts to adventure out into Mexico with on this day, and we were going on an excursion that they were HUGELY excited about, and I was... well, I was chaperoning them!

Alas, for they happened to be the same two Girl Scouts I'd chaperoned on the previous day, and they no longer fell for my "Seatbelts, Everyone!" schtick when we got into our van.

Check out this weird mural we passed on the way to the beach club:

It's called "Letania," and is a statement about overfishing. A couple of years ago I read a really great book about overfishing and the commercial impact on the oceans, and it changed my decision-making about what I eat:

The kids' choice of excursion on this day was a ziplining and snorkeling adventure at Islands Beach Club. If my co-chaperone and I were choosing a day just for ourselves, we 100% would not have chosen ziplining and snorkeling, ahem, but I think we both ended up very happy that we'd taken one for the team and signed up to chaperone.

I have to say, though--I am normally not one to be afraid of heights. I mean, I've walked along the top of the CN Tower ON THE OUTSIDE! I've also done high ropes courses before--one of them with some of these very Girl Scouts! But dang, THIS set of suspension bridges that we crossed on our way to the ziplines got me good!

Looking back, I think it was the wonky planks:

You couldn't just, like, walk along the suspension bridges. Oh, no, because each suspension bridge was a new and different version of hell, with unpredictable gaps or boards placed askew so had to keep looking down to watch where you were going, and every time you looked down you'd lose your balance a little because, you know, it was a swaying suspension bridge made of rope!

Fortunately, the beginnings of a panic attack look basically like big enthusiasm, at least to teenaged Girl Scouts. And my co-chaperone and I gave each other a LOT of emotional support. I'm telling you what, we went THROUGH it, and it wasn't even freaking noon!

Thank goodness for ziplining, which I like a LOT better!

After the ziplines and suspension bridges, the last leg was rappelling straight down the final tower. Easy-peasy!

After getting all our harnesses off, we had time for a little walk around, a couple of cold drinks (Coca-Cola with sugar in a glass bottle with labeling written in Spanish for the win!), and the strict locker negotiations required to fit one empty and one half-full bottle of Mexicoke, and then it was time to meet up for our snorkeling session.

I made sure to tell the Girl Scouts and chaperone exactly how to retrieve the locker key off my corpse--larkshead knot around my bra strap.

I mentioned the other day that I have issues with snorkeling. I don't like putting my face in the water, I don't like getting in water over my head, I don't like having stuff on my face, and if I do any of those things, I will absolutely, 100% die.

Fortunately, I have a lot of coping skills, and I put them all into play here. As one of the staff members handed out the masks and snorkels, I refused one and said, "No, thanks. I'm not going to snorkel. I'll just go out and keep my kids company."

The guy replied, matter-of-factly, "You are going to snorkel," and put the mask and snorkel in my hands.

Communications issues, is all. To be expected. Not a problem.

Next, the team handed out what they said were life jackets, but were to my eyes absolutely NOT the correct and appropriate life jackets to wear when getting into water over your head. I have since learned that these are, of course, perfectly correct and appropriate life jackets, but still... you know those airplane life jackets the flight attendants tell you about during the safety briefing? The ones that you have to literally blow into yourself to inflate? And you know they probably don't even really work but it doesn't matter because if your plane crashed into the water you'd be dead, anyway?

Yeah, they handed out THOSE life jackets. And then they told us to blow into the little nozzles to inflate them, but don't inflate them more than halfway!

I mean. If I'm going to wear an airplane crash life jacket into water over my head, I am at LEAST going to inflate the damn thing enough to keep me from drowning. right away. It's a slow death for me!

Figuring that I had only moments before we went into the water and I died, I started blowing into that nozzle as if my life depended on it... which it obviously did. I blew that little rubber wrap-around whoopie cushion up like a balloon, until it puffed satisfyingly around me in a manner that implied that I would bob like a cork in the ocean. Which is absolutely what I wanted.

Until a staff member marched over to me, saying, "No! No! Not like that!" He told me I had to deflate most of my life jacket, then instructed me how to start letting my precious, precious air out. I complied, but reluctantly, and all I can figure is that he read something in the look on my face, because he suddenly asked, "Are you a confident swimmer?"

"NO!" I said.

"Okay," he said. "Take that off, and I will give you a special life jacket." I have never divested myself of an article of clothing so quickly before, and sure enough, the guy came right back with a proper life jacket. It had a zipper and everything! It's my new favorite item in the world, and I'm probably going to put one on my Amazon wishlist so that I can just start taking it with me whenever I'm going to be in the water, because why even pretend, you know?

The kids, of course, from what attention I could spare them from contemplating my own imminent demise, were doing awesome. At this point, in my special life jacket, I probably wasn't even going to traumatize them by dying right in front of them!

But then we had to walk down to the actual water. 

I was busily figuring out how to put my flippers on, my mask and snorkel around my neck where they were going to stay, when Martin, one of the staff members, came around and said, "The staff will hold your glasses while you snorkel."

"Oh!" I said. "I'm not going to take off my glasses!"

"Your glasses will not fit under your mask."

"I'm not going to put on my mask. I'll just swim around with the kids while they snorkel. Anyway, I wouldn't be able to see without my glasses, so there's no point."

"The water will magnify, and you'll be able to see. Hand Antonio your glasses and I will help you into the water."

At this point, I realized that one of two things was definitely going to happen, and I had to choose right then which it would be. Either I handed over my glasses, put a bunch of shit on my face, and got into that water over my head and died, or I Made a Fuss.

Friends, I chose death.

I... just gave up on life at that point. Honestly, I just gave up. I handed over my glasses, and thought, "I am about to die." I nearsightedly flipper-footed my way over the rocks and into the water, holding onto Martin's hand, and thought, "This is really happening. I am really going to die today." My sweet co-chaperone lost track of the kids, who were having the time of their lives already in the water with another guide and the lifeguard, and asked about them, and I literally replied, "They're in God's hands now." 

Martin led me by the hands--or it's quite possible that I was gripping his hands too tightly for him to let go without prying me off--into water to my shoulders. In the last moments of my life, he helped me put my mask on, and made sure it was tight around my face, because if I'm going to die anyway, might as well die living out all my greatest fears, right?

Then he showed me how to put the snorkel in my mouth and bite down, because hey, I'm also terrified of suffocating!

Then he said, "Now breathe through your mouth," and I did.

And... okay. That part was okay. Discovering I could still breathe with a bunch of crap on my face and IN MY ACTUAL MOUTH was an absolute revelation. Fun how you can still learn something new even in the actual last minute of your life!

So there I was, breathing through my mouth. Martin asked, "Are you okay?" and I lied and said I was, because he was going to feel bad enough when I died, so no point in upsetting him now.

Then he said, "Okay, Mami, now put your face into the water."

"Put your face into the water."

"Put your face into the water!"

There was no getting out of it, so I did it. I put my face into the water.

And... I was okay? I heard Martin say, "Now breathe through your mouth!", so I did that, too.

And I think I was okay! I hadn't died! I mean, not yet!

Then Martin said, "Now lift your feet up and float."

Oh, my god, you guys. I lifted my feet up, and my special life jacket did its job and had me bobbing there like a good ocean slug. My face was in the water, and I was breathing through my mouth. And then, I kid you not, a school of blue fish swam just under me, and I SAW THEM.

Hot damn, the water DOES magnify things!

I didn't even tip my face out of the water when Martin said, "You stay with me, Mami. I'll take care of you." I just vaguely waved a thumbs-up in his direction-ish, because there were fish! Tropical fish! Just down there living their best fishy lives and check. Them. OUT!!!

I do remember that at some point, Martin told me about kicking, but otherwise, I lay flat on my stomach on top of the water like a slug, marveling at all the stuff I could see. Every now and then I would hear a shout of, "Mami!!! Over here!!!" and I would sort of figure out how to get my head out of the water to look for Martin, where he'd be waving his hands where the rest of the snorkeling group had gone, and I'd put my face back in the water and kick over in that general direction and then lie like a slug on my stomach some more until he shouted for me again.

You guys, look at me:

I am in the WATER, you guys. It is OVER MY HEAD. I have so much crap on my face you cannot even believe it. And my whole face? Is IN THE WATER! My god, my EARS are in the water! I have probably not put my ears in the water on purpose since I was seven!

Sooo... I think Martin might have changed my life. Seriously, what else is there that I don't think I can do that I can actually do?

For one thing, I can't wait to go snorkeling again!

I'm definitely buying myself one of those special life jackets first, though...

My Girl Scouts, too, absolutely loved their snorkeling adventure, and even wheedled the staff into letting them temporarily keep their masks and goggles to use over in the beach area, which is where we headed next. 

I showed these two photos to Will later, and she was aghast at me. "You chose to sit under a COCONUT PALM?!? With COCONUTS?!?"

I was all, "Baby, it turns out that I am immortal!"

While the kids snorkeled and my co-chaperone swam, I got started on a book I'd been saving special for the cruise: Project Hail Mary:

It was phenomenal, just like this day!

Not even having my phone accidentally turned onto selfie mode AGAIN could bring me down:

After the kids were finally snorkeled out, we gave them the choice of staying at the Beach Club for lunch or heading back to the port area for shopping. The kids were absolutely revved up for shopping, so decision made!

But not without first handing them several large bills (Thank you for changing my life, Martin!), pointing them to the staff, and telling them that, yes, it is handshake tip time.

Because if I'm going out of my comfort zone, I'm dragging everyone else along with me!

When we got back to the port, we found the other excursion group already there, also shopping with the kids, so we all had a happy reunion and lots to tell each other. I did not bring any money for souvenirs, which I actually now super regret because they had whole dish sets with painted cat and dog skeletons on them, but you know what, the ability to snorkel is a GREAT souvenir. And it was a lot of fun helping the kids under my care knock out their souvenir shopping lists and find the perfect memories to bring home and use up their pesos.

And we didn't see ANY passed-out drunk people in wheelchairs when we re-embarked!

Will hadn't had any excitement all day, which was just what she'd needed. She reported she'd had a fine time, though, watching TV and reading and playing on her ipod and talking with her dad. She was sure ready to be done watching the world through our stateroom window, though!

Matt and I went off to meet the rest of the troop for dinner, hoping that someone from the med center would come by with Will's second Covid test while we were gone. 

Here's part of that night's dinner menu:

Yes, Matt tried the alligator beignets. I had the onion soup like a non-alligator murderer!

One of my favorite parts of the cruise was watching the sunset outside our window while we enjoyed our appetizers. 

I had a nice pumpkin and sweet potato savory pie for my main course:

Matt had two main courses, both of them meat:

And, of course, I had my melting chocolate cake for dessert!

We got back to our stateroom after dinner to discover that, indeed, someone from the med center had come by while we were gone to administer Will's Covid test, and just a few minutes later, they called us with her get-out-of-jail negative results!

I kicked her out of our comfy stateroom and our king-sized bed and back into her stateroom shared with two other kids one second later:

And then we hit the deck to get my kid some fresh air!

We had a GREAT night! Will had a light dinner, then we met up with some other Girl Scouts and chaperones for the family-friendly comedy show, then we all hung out on the deck for a while reading, doing puzzles, and listening to the St. Patrick's Day party across the way. It veered between awesome dance music and... bowling?

Anyway, the decorations and music were great accompaniments to crosswords and Project Hail Mary!

After a while, Will packed it in for an early night, and since Matt and I weren't in charge of the late night Girl Scouts, we went to the adults-only comedy show (which was TERRIBLE, but the super drunk St. Patrick's Day crowd seemed to love it!), got midnight pizza afterwards, and took it back to our room to find that our blessed stateroom attendant, Ditka, had cleaned and sanitized our room in our absence, Hallelujah:

OMG THANK you, Ditka!
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