Saturday, February 25, 2012

Casey Anthony, is that you?

OK so weird moment of the week. I babysit occasionally and being a professional, CPR and First-Aid trained adult, I'm the "responsible, won't let your kids drown/eat enough sweets to go into sugar coma/kill each other/wreck your house (too much)" type.

Well, I got a call today from a woman who found me on Sittercity some months ago and was contacting me to see if I could watch her 6 year old and 3 year old. Now, when someone contacts me from that site to babysit and I do not know them, I will generally meet the parents and the kids in their home to see if I'm a good fit for the family, give references, talk about cost and so on.

This woman wanted me to babysit her kids tonight at my home and possibly keep them overnight so she could go party with a friend of hers. She was desperate to find someone to watch them since she is getting into whatever club she's getting into for free tonight. I HAVE NEVER MET THIS WOMAN OR HER KIDS!! I wanted to ask her if her name was Casey Anthony.

Now, as I said above, I am the responsible type, but she doesn't know that. Again, SHE HAS NEVER MET ME NOR HAVE THE KIDS!! Is it me or is that just bizarre?? I would not leave my dog with someone I'd never met. I initially agreed to watch the kids because I was almost afraid of what she would do with them if she couldn't find someone to watch them, but then I had to renege because I realized two things - one, my home is not child friendly at the moment, and two - I am just not comfortable with having never met any of the principle players involved here.

I am amazed, simply amazed, that anyone would consider leaving their children with a complete stranger for whom no references have been given, let alone checked. CRAZY!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Friends of Cozumel

FRIDAY: On Friday, we had reef and wreck dives scheduled. We started with Palancar Bricks, which was beautiful. There were several beautiful coral formations and fish. We also got to swim through a small cave area of sorts. It was very interesting.

Our second dive site was the C-53 Ship. This was Dad's third trip to the C-53 and my second. Despite having been there before, it was a lot of fun because you always notice something new when you are diving the ship. I saw a sting ray on the ocean floor and beautiful fish. Dad and I took some photos at the ship and I will have them developed this week. I will share them if they are good quality.

These were our last dives of the day and we decided to walk into town to the Subway for lunch. We wanted something light and easy. We had lunch and then I did some souvenir shopping for friends. Dad and I took a taxi back to the hotel and got some rest, then headed to the hotel restaurant to eat. We decided that Saturday would be a day for sleeping in and then jet skiing in the afternoon. We booked the jet ski excursion and had an early night. It was nice to just relax and sleep in on Saturday morning.

SATURDAY: Our last full day in Cozumel. We slept in, had some breakfast, and headed via taxi to the jet ski site. This was a rather interesting situation because we had to wait for a jet ski (which was fine since we were early), but once we got a jet ski, it did not start. The second one they gave us did not have enough gas. The third time seemed to be the charm and we were off! I was driving and Dad was doing his usual back ski driving. One of the jet ski employees came up to us in the water and motioned for us to stop. Seems he forgot his walkie-talkie in the storage compartment of our jet ski. We gave that back to him and once again, we were off.

Neither Dad nor I had ever been on a jet ski. He didn't care if I drove, but it was hard to get the hang of it. I dumped us in the water, or "the drink" as Dad called it, once and we crawled back up on the jet ski. I was doing better driving after that, but then I hit a wave and dumped us in the drink again. This time, I lost one of my contact lenses in the water and Dad lost his prescription sunglasses in the water. Neither of those was a big loss since my contacts are disposable and were long past needing to be replaced. Dad's sunglasses needed to be replaced as well and he had been talking about doing just that for a couple of months. I like to think I helped speed up that process. LOL! 

Anyway, Dad was good about it, but I left him in the water to swim to the jet ski, which had floated away. It was ROUGH swimming to the jet ski. The current was not incredibly strong, but it was strong enough that it was a hard swim. I will not be completing a triathlon anytime soon, that much is certain! I made it to the jet ski, got back on it and picked up Dad. He decided he was done with the jet skiing so I dropped him off at the shore and continued with the jet skiing. I got the hang of it and it was SO much fun! I was speeding along in the water, bumping over the waves, and just having the best time! Finally, I pulled up to the shore and Dad and I gathered our stuff, washed the sand from our feet, and got in the taxi to return to the hotel.

We took showers and got ready for dinner. We were going to walk into town, but we both decided we were tired and just wanted to relax for the last evening in Cozumel. We took a taxi to Guido's and sat in the garden area. We had one of the best meals either of us had ever eaten!! I had the spaghetti and Dad had the pork chop. I ordered garlic beard and we both had salads. All of the food was beyond delicious! Guido's has a great reputation in Cozumel and I had been wanting to try it for quite awhile. I'm glad I got the chance.

We returned to the hotel after the great meal to relax and get ready to leave the next day. Sunday was a day of travel. We were at the airport around 11 to wait for the flights home. After I checked my bag and went through security, I found that I would not be allowed to take two small candles with me that I had purchased. I went back to the agent and asked if I could put them in my checked baggage. They said no since the bag had already gone to the cart to be loaded on the plane. 

So, I found a nice looking middle-aged man named Larry and asked if he was going to Houston. He said yes, he would be going through Houston. He very nicely agreed to put my candles in the bag he would be checking. I assured him I was not a drug runner. Later, before boarding the plane, I sat next to him and chatted for a few minutes. It turns out that his wife lives in Cozumel and he lives in Iowa. He will retire in two years and then work full-time for the charity that he and his wife founded to assist the poor in Cozumel. These people are huge givers so if you're looking for a charity to give to, check theirs out: Friends of Cozumel.

My friend picked me up in Houston and we had dinner before I returned home to get a good night's sleep and relax. I decided to take today (Monday) as a day to get things done, do my laundry, and so on. Basically to "recover" from vacation and get back into the swing of things. I can't wait for the next trip!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Horror on the High Seas

Continuing the February 2012 Cozumel Saga...

THURSDAY: We were up early to eat breakfast and get ready to dive. We were on the boat with a couple from Louisiana, one man from Wisconsin, and a father and his two daughters from Brazil. The girls appeared to be in their teens. 

I realized about halfway to our first dive site that I had forgotten to get fins from the dive shop. So the boat pulled up to the nearest dock and the dive shop sent some fins over via scooter delivery. We were once again on our way. Our first dive site was Palancar Tunich. We all got ready to go and dove into the water (this takes place by falling backwards off the boat. Sounds scary, but it's not). 

Upon entering the water, my Dad sucked in a bunch of salt water, realizing that a piece was missing from his regulator. He used his secondary air source (called an octopus or octo) and all was well.

As I entered the water, I was having some trouble breathing. This was before we descended into the water. Once we descended, I had a tough time getting my air straight and keeping water out of my mask. Finally, I got it all settled and was able to enjoy an amazing dive.

We descended to about 70 feet and I saw that up ahead of me, the dive master had taken hold of one of the Brazil girls. I thought he was training her. When you are completing scuba diving certification, the dive master will have you perform various tasks in the water. My dad and I descended to 100 feet and waited for the dive master to complete whatever it was he was doing with the girl. I had never been to 100 feet before and it was kind of exciting for me. The dive master signaled for us to follow him and we did so. It was a beautiful dive, so much to see and beautiful coral everywhere!

When we finished the dive and I was back on the boat, I saw the girl from Brazil in the water holding on to the boat's ladder. Her father and sister were with her and her father was telling her to breath slowly. She had been hyperventilating apparently.

Later, at our interval stop before the second dive, I found out what happened. When the dive master had taken hold of her in the water, it wasn't training he was doing. She had signaled to him that she had no air. He checked her air gauge and signaled that it was fine. She managed to get him to understand that her regulator was not producing any air. Both her regulator and her octo (secondary breathing source) were malfunctioning and causing her to suck in salt water each time she had to take a breath. So, the dive master gave her his octo and finished the dive. The poor girl understandably had a panic attack when she could not breath.

There is always an interval stop before second dives when you have gone to a deep depth so we stopped at Paradise Beach and got out of the boat to use the bathroom and walk around a bit. Once we were ready for the second dive, we realized one of the divers on board had lost the strap to his fin. Thankfully, another diver had an extra and was able to fix it. The second dive site was Palancar Caves. No one had any issues there, which we were all grateful for. I was getting ready to rename the boat "Titanic." Even in this tropical environment, I was fairly certain a huge iceberg was going to crop up out of nowhere and/or that the boat captain would turn out to be Francesco Schettino!

Thankfully, Palancar Caves was a beautiful site and we saw some great coral and marine life.

We took a short nap and then ate at the hotel restaurant before returning to the boat for our first night dive. About halfway to our dive site, my Dad realized he did not have his mask. He is very meticulous about keeping his dive equipment properly stored, so we had no idea what happened to it. He thought he might have left it in his room. In any case, there was an extra mask on board so he used that.

We readied for the dive and sank into the water. The dive site was Paradise Reef and it was amazing! We had flashlights with us and glow lights on our BCD vests so we could be seen and stay with our group. I saw crabs, an octopus, a huge grouper fish, and an eel. The dive master sent my Dad and me up to the surface early though and neither of us could figure out why. 

I descended again and stayed under about 15 more minutes. My Dad was happy to surface since he had been having trouble clearing his mask (it was filling with water and he couldn't get it clear) since it was not the mask he normally uses. The dive master told us that my Dad did not have enough air left in his tank (they send you to the surface when you have 500 or less, sometimes 700 or less pounds of air per the gauge). I had to surface with him because we are paired as dive buddies. The thing is, my Dad had 1200 pounds of air in his tank so plenty to continue on. 

We got back to the hotel, which I was more than happy to do at this point considering the whole day had just been weird. I took a hot bath and had a good night's sleep, which was much needed.

Recap of Friday and Saturday coming soon so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Virgin and Me in Cozumel

Today, I set out on a solo adventure while my Dad was diving. I decided on a Segway and Snorkeling tour. The tour company picked me up at my hotel and I headed off to the Segway practice lot with a bunch of people from the cruise ship that had docked this morning.

It was a fun group and we quickly arrived at the first stop, which was the parking lot of Discover Mexico museum. We had an introduction to riding the Segways and then we got to practice in the lot. I LOVE IT! I must get a Segway ASAP! Of course, the price tag of several thousand dollars is somewhat prohibitive, but I am sure I have that lying around somewhere. Perhaps under the couch where all the spare change seems to reside.

We rode the Segways to a beach area where we could snorkel, swim, or just lay in the lounge chairs and relax. I chose to lay in the chair and relax. I have been snorkeling before and I enjoy it, but I am going scuba diving tomorrow so I figured this would be a good time to just soak up a little sun and have some quiet time by the water. I purchased a virgin margarita (hence the virgin in the title - get your minds out of the gutter) and laid down to relax. I took a little nap and woke up with a sunburn on my face, my lower arms, and my neck. Not a surprise. The sun only has to rise a small bit over the horizon before it hones in on my fair skin and burns me like steak tar tar. Oh well, a small price to pay!

After around 1.5 hours at the beach, we all got on our Segways and made our way back to the parking lot. We were riding caravan style so one long line of people. We had about 15 in our group. The guy behind me ended up going a little fast and bumping into me because he couldn't stop. He fell off, but managed to stay upright. Neither of us was the worse for the wear and we continued on.

We made it back to the parking lot and headed home on the open-air bus that the guide referred to as the Mexican Limousine. Back at the hotel, I took a shower and a nap to recover from all that relaxation at the beach. Sloth can be an exhausting trait.

My Dad returned from his diving adventure and we headed into town on foot to eat at Coconuts. Unfortunately, we discovered that what we thought was Coconuts was actually a place called Jeanie's. So, we got out the map and found that Coconuts was located in another area entirely. We were hungry so Jeanie's served as a fine substitute for Coconuts and ended up being really good!

After that, we headed to the Mega, which is similar to a Super Walmart or HEB Plus at home. We picked up some water and snacks and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel where I am now updating my blog and listening to the bad karaoke downstairs. Tomorrow, we dive!


This blog entry comes to you from Cozumel, Mexico where I arrived on Sunday afternoon for a week of scuba diving, shopping, eating, and fun in the sun! My father and I share the hobby of scuba diving and we enjoy one another's company so traveling together is a natural thing for us to do. This is our fourth trip here since last May and provided that I have the time in the future (when I am working), we will continue to make Cozumel a frequent destination.

Anyway, I usually chronicle our trips on my blog from Day 1, but I was tired when I got here and haven't been keeping up on the vacation blog. This may be boring so you've been warned, but it's a good way for me to remember our vacation memories.

SUNDAY: Up very early (5:45 a.m.) to finish packing and catch my 9:10 a.m. flight. Arrived in Cozumel around 12:30 and realized that I had forgotten to send the required e-mail to the transport company to pick me up. A very nice worker at the airport came up to me and offered to e-mail them on his Blackberry. He did so and they showed up quickly. I was grateful for his assistance!

My Dad was flying in from San Antonio so he arrived about an hour after I made it to the hotel. We donned our scuba gear and took a shore dive. The current was VERY strong so it kept tossing us around, but we managed to at least get a taste (literally at some points) of the water. Shore dives on the first day serve as a good introduction to the water so that the subsequent longer dives later in the week are a little easier - there is not a lot of water adjustment.

We headed back to our rooms and I showered and took a short nap. Our plan for the first night was to walk into town and eat at Casa Denis, which serves our favorite fajitas. Unfortunately, it started raining heavily so we went to the hotel restaurant instead, which was fine since it also has good food. They were serving a buffet and had the Super Bowl on the television so several Americans were gathered inside watching the game and cheering for their teams. It was a fun atmosphere!

MONDAY: We were once again up very early for a trip to Cancun where we planned to dive the Underwater Museum. We caught the 7 a.m. ferry to Playa Del Carmen, where we wandered around the town for awhile and then settled on breakfast at this great restaurant. It was excellent food for a good price! We then headed to the meeting point for our AquaWorld shuttle van, which was to take us to Cancun. It's hard to travel from Cozumel to Cancun as there is no direct route except for flying. Otherwise, you must take the ferry to Playa, then a bus or some other transportation to Cancun.

Our shuttle bus showed up and we took the ride to Cancun where we traveled around picking up other people who were also doing AquaWorld activities. It was a very bumpy ride on many of the roads, but we finally made it. 

Once were were on the dive boat, it was a long journey to our dive site, but it was worth it! We had chosen to dive the Underwater Museum. The statues are incredible up close and Dad and I both enjoyed the dive. The second dive was to a reef and we enjoyed that as well. In total, we saw three turtles, a lobster, a lion fish, and even a shark! The shark was small and hiding under a ledge, but I got a close up view. He did not seem pleased to be the main attraction for a bunch of divers. 

We completed the dive and headed back inland where we caught a bus to the Cancun bus station and then another bus to Playa Del Carmen. We took the ferry from Playa back to Cozumel. At this point, it was nearly 8 p.m. and we were starving! Thankfully, we had planned to have dinner at Palmeras, which is literally right across the street from the ferry dock. We ate a GREAT meal there (in more ways than one. It was tasty, but also a lot of food). 

We headed back to the hotel where a hot bath was a welcome relief from all the traveling. We had been up for about 14 hours at that point and we had been very active during the day so I was exhausted. It was wonderful though and I wouldn't trade a minute of it! I took a hot bath with some Aveeno oatmeal bath powder to soothe my skin. I did a few things on the computer and then crawled into bed for a good night's rest. 

TUESDAY: Dad and I decided to make today a day of leisure and rest after the long day on Monday. We had breakfast around 8 and then visited the dive shop to make our diving arrangements for the rest of the week. I will be diving on Thursday and Saturday with Dad. He is diving every day this week. Then, we headed back to our rooms. I had to have the hotel staff drill out the lock in my in-room safe because the maid accidentally threw away the safe key that I had left on the coffee table in my room. Of course, I cannot prove that she threw it away so the hotel is charging $100 to drill the lock and replace the key. Thankfully, my father is willing to pay for this and took it all in stride, but I was a bit miffed. Oh well, such is life.

I took a short nap and then Dad and I walked into town where we did some shopping and finally got our fajitas at Casa Denis! Excellent food as always!! We did a little more shopping after that and did a small recon mission to Guido's Italian Restaurant, which I have been wanting to try for awhile. We will be eating there on Friday. 

We met a nice woman outside the restaurant and she suggested we eat in the garden area in the back of the restaurant. I asked if she had eaten at Guido's before and she said that she was the owner! So, we got to chat with her for a few minutes and she was very sweet. I can't wait to try out her restaurant!

We headed back to the hotel in a cab where I spent the evening taking another short nap and resting. It has been a good day. Tomorrow, Dad will dive in the morning and I will go on a solo adventure. Stay tuned!