Diving Cozumel on Boxing Day

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Posted by tleemay on December 26, 2005 at 19:30:19:

Again from Chuck Hopf who lives on the island. As you will read,
the island is coming along quickly on some fronts, much slower on
others. As Chuck will point out, some of the botomscape has been
drastically changed by the storm. If you dove Coz in recent years
I bet things will look completely different to you now.

Chuck's report;

Two dives. Palancar Gardens and Punta Dalilah. Viz as far as the eye can see, gentle currents, 81F water (yes late Dec and 81F water.) Wilma radically altered the underwater landscape. Places where there was sand have now revealed hidden caves and tunnels and uncovered old coral heads and at least one large anchor. In other places, familiar things have disappeared under the sand. Lots of broken coral and sponges as well as a lot of debris on the bottom. I know that there cannot be global warming for my gummint has told me that it is bad science with no basis in fact but something is causing coral to bleach. Maybe some terrorist poured clorox in the ocean.

For the most part things are in pretty good shape but they are limiting access to shallow sites and some places are just plain off limits. Also no night diving in the Park.

Saw many more barracuda than I am accustomed to seeing but lots of smaller fish, lobsters, a large green moray, turtle, an octopus that had a conch shell it would not give me, urchins, anemones, arrow crabs, and right at the end of the second dive a large eagle ray. Very pleasant easy dives.

On land, the devastation as you go further south on the island is overwhelming. The timeshares across the street from La Ceiba are gutted. Nothing left but the structural steel and cement floors. Walls are all gone. In general, it looks like that very Norteamericano style of construction (structural steel and curtain walls) got destroyed while the more traditional Mexican cinder blocks and rebar fared much better. Lots of walls surrounding property down all over town (we lost two but they have been rebuilt) lots of bare trees and trees just starting to show green. The palm tree that marked the Las Palmas dive site is gone. Once there were two then there was one now there are none. So I guess it is now No Palmas. El Presidente is in very bad shape. Roof stripped off and everything facing the water blown out. Both El Presidente and Del Mar say June 2006 to reopen but color me skeptical.

Dont get me wrong, Cozumel is open for business. Just still a lot of very visible catastrophic damage and some of the businesses you are accustomed are no longer there.

Last night we headed to (Albert's) Primas but they were full so we decided to try the new Chinese restaurant just up the street next to La Choza. I would not call it great or even remotely authentic but it was pretty good.

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