Our first of two stops was Cozumel. If you are going to do an excursion there I highly recommend snorkeling on the Palancar Reef which ranks among the most amazing things I've ever done. Read all about snorkeling and dancing in Cozumel.
But if you just want to get off the ship and wander around to do some shopping it's perfect for that. If you land at the port closest to downtown you are all set. If your ship docks at Puerta Maya you'll need to take a taxi to downtown for about two bucks apiece.
We had a female taxi driver who turned up Ke$ha on the radio so we could have a dance party in the car, obviously a theme of the trip. She couldn't stop laughing.
On the main strip, beachfront, there is plenty of shopping. What's with all the diamond stores? But we always head a block or two away from that for walking down sleepy little streets away from the fray of thousands of cruisers who seem to feel safest among the throngs of people. Just a couple of blocks over you could be in any little Mexican village. I have always felt safe in Cozumel and the Yucatan, in general, is a safe part of the country compared to areas where walking across the border is possible.
In Mexico, I shop for 3 things: silver, turquoise, and blankets. I have a blanket from each trip I've made. They are perfect for taking to yoga or for using on chilly nights on the porch. I found one early in the day and marked that off my list.
We stopped at a charming small cafe called Casablanca (some sketchy reviews on Trip Advisor but we had a fun experience) for a snack. Under an umbrella, we drank two for one margaritas and ate guacamole.
Next to it was a guy doing henna tattoos, something I've always wanted to do. Maggie and I did this. Because if you are going to get an Indian style henna mandala Mexico is the place to do it, right?
Meanwhile, my friend, Debi and her daughter located a jewelry store and Debi returned wearing a stunning ring. The guy had started at a price of $825.00 but she ended up paying less than a quarter of that. Haggling is something the locals expect and happily engage in, but if you whip out your money at the first price they'll gladly take it.
After my margaritas I thought jewelry shopping sounded like a fine idea. We all headed back to the store. They were ready with the tequila shots when we walked in. It was a small store with 4 of the most charming men you've ever come across. Pouring us tequila and talking silver and turquoise.
How much cash can you spend on jewelry? Please note: whatever number you say is what you will spend. These men are the definition of smooth. I asked for a shot of tequila for every step of the process.
I can't even think about buying jewelry...without more tequila. Etc. Etc.
Y'all! Almond and chocolate tequila. Who knew?
I ended up with a stack of 7 square silver bangles and a pair of turquoise earrings for sixty bucks. I had one thicker bangle on my other arm as I was paying and one man came over to say in a low voice to the guy checking me out "Don't' forget about that one." To which the man taking my money said, "I'm giving that to her." The first guy made a face, like "well, okay, then."
I wondered how many times a day they did this little act. Obviously, that encounter would have been done in Spanish if it was real.
We laughed about all this later and wondered if we'd been taken advantage of and just assumed we had overpaid. Upon returning home though our research showed that we had actually paid fair prices for our purchases and it was one of the most enjoyable shopping experiences I've ever had.
Plus the tequila was so amazing I had to stop before we got on the ship and buy some to bring home. Surely these guys are getting a kickback from the tequila sellers.
Things you hear when shopping in Mexico:
I can tell you are a good woman.
Do you like tequila?
How much cash do you have to spend?
Here's a charm for you.
Come inside and taste the tequila.
Special price for you.
Have some more tequila.
If you are heading to Mexico set aside some money for shopping. It can feel a bit like gambling and like gambling part of what you are paying for is the entertainment. Just don't take more than you can afford to happily part with.