Desert Storm Reunion Cruise: Cozumel

Next stop on the cruise was a place I always wanted to visit: ruins!

When we docked, I was first greeted by this sight.  On the right is my cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas.  On my left was Navigator of the Seas.  That’s the ship I took on my first cruise, so this was pretty weird.


Then it was off to the Mayan ruins.  It was very hot out (Mexico in winter is still hot!), and a long walk to get out to the ruins.

My first reaction was, “That’s it?”  I guess I expected ruins to be more exotic, though they are what they are … parts of buildings that are crumbling.

It also didn’t help that we didn’t have a good tour guide.  He gave us all headsets to listen in to him, but he spoke almost in a monotone and very softly.  He also didn’t seem excited about he was talking about … seems like that would be a requirement for a tour guide.

Mayan Ruins against a deep blue sky and dry grass

And the obligatory beach shot.  This was overlooked by the ruins.  We could go down if we wanted to, but the stairs were very steep, so I opted for photos.

A beautiful Mexican beach

Then it was back at the end of the day for the next trip along the coast of Mexico for more ruins.

Desert Storm Reunion Day 3 – Cozumel, Mexico

When I woke up on Day 3, we were in Mexico. I’d learned the night before that my sea turtle excursion had been canceled, but it was too late to try to book another excursion, so I decided to do the forum shops.

First stop when I got off the ship was checking out the stores at the dock. These were the touristy ones with all the things that tourists want to buy. I stopped first a drugstore to buy bottled water because it was already hot out and the sun was barely up.

Stores in Mexico
These were the stores right on the dock.

I enjoyed window shopping here, though I got an early taste of what was to come. One of the store owners stood outside and invited me into the store. It sold a lot of the touristy stuff and some jewelry, so I bought my first souvenir, a Mexican Chihuahua..

Then he escorted me over to his cousin’s store, which had a lot more jewelry and followed me around, trying to make the sale on anything I touched. He kept asking if something was wrong because I wasn’t buying any of the jewelry. It was pretty, but I wasn’t buying jewelry of that kind.

He kept hovering, and then all I was doing was looking for an opportunity to leave the store. A couple came in, and I slid out.

I took a cab the two miles down to the forum shops. The forum shops are apparently why a lot of people go to Cozumel. They sell a lot of jewelry very inexpensively, and it’s all duty free. It’s all gold, silver, turquoise, and jewels, so real jewelry.  But the stores were all kind of run down.

Street of stores.
This is a side street at the forum stores. I was surprised that I didn’t get any shots of the stores themselves.

Like at the earlier place, the store owners stood outside and pulled me in, then hovered. They were puzzled as to why I didn’t seem interested in anything, and it was because any time I touched something, they jumped up like it was a call to buy now.

The worst was going into some of the side stores where they did sell things I was more interested in and priced more to my range. This time it was a woman, and she pulled me into the store. By then, I was hating the selling technique, so when she did it, I was even less enamored of buying anything. I finally bought a $5.00 bracelet, but then she wanted a dollar tip and the smallest I had was a $20.

So she dragged me down to a store I had just visited, one that belonged to her cousin. That one sold designer bags, and strangely, though I had been there less than 10 minutes before, the owner did not even remember me. I did not buy anything so she took me to another store (another cousin), and this time I picked a $2 turtle to buy so I get away from this nonsense. The cousin couldn’t break the twenty (read: she wanted me to spend more than $2), so the woman finally gave up in disgust.


I ignored another man calling to me to come into his store and walked across the street to the white wall that ran along the water. There wasn’t really much access to the water, but there were some beautiful sculptures. I spotted a cab, and decided I was done.

ornate fountain against an ocean backdrop
This was a fountain that was across the street from the forum stores.

Definitely if I go to Cozumel again, it will not be anywhere near any stores. It was very unpleasant.

By the time I got back to the ship, the skies had turned black and we got a downpour.

Blue water in the harbor with dark skies overhead

I found that I enjoyed my time on the ship there because no one was there. The energy levels were way down too, and it was so much quieter. I also noticed for the first time the dog greeter at the entrance to the Windjammer, who the crew dressed up for Mexico.

Dog sculpture with a red handkerchief over its face.
All dressed up for Mexico

Back to the dining room for dinner, though it looked like a lot of people were pooped out from Mexico. Initially I was the only one at the table, so some of the other vets invited me over (then everyone showed up!). Two of the women were nurses, one from Desert Storm and one who had been in Vietnam and Desert Storm. I saw her a lot all over the ship. Like me, she was traveling solo because she’d done all the communal living in the military and didn’t need to do it now. We ended up in a discussion over post traumatic stress syndrome over dinner (which was the elephant in the room on the cruise).

She said that every war veteran suffers from PTSD, even if it’s only a little bit. I still don’t know what I think of that.

Desert Storm: 25th Anniversary Reunion

I’ve been invited to a Desert Storm 25th Anniversary Reunion next year.  It’s for vets of the war in general, so not my specific union or battalion.  It’s a cruise, which I wouldn’t mind doing, since I’ve never been on a cruise.  At least, unless you count the Catalina Flyer, which was when I was in the Girl Scouts.  I got terribly seasick on that and spent the entire trip on the stairs, enough below decks to cut the motion and still in the fresh air.

It also goes to Honduras and Mexico, and the only overseas countries I’ve been to have been courtesy of war.

But the cost is making me hesitate.  I think I will be able to afford it at that point, but I’m kind of wishing they’d put this in Las Vegas where it wouldn’t cost as much as this.

It certainly would be a different experience — not like a high school reunion where everyone is comparing everyone else’s success, because most of us wouldn’t know each other and yet we have this unique shared experience.  I think if this had been done on the 10th anniversary, I wouldn’t have done it because I didn’t have enough distance from the war.  But 25?  It would be a very different experience.

What’s your take on it?  Have you been on a cruise?  What was it like?  Did you get seasick a lot?

Desert Storm Reunion October 11-18, 2015
Desert Storm Reunion October 11-18, 2015