I was living in Key West, Florida when I first came to Cozumel in the spring of 1988. I was here scuba diving and enjoying the east side beaches, especially The Naked Turtle, where Playa Bonita is today. I fell in love with the island, the waters, and the people of Cozumel. My scuba instructor, who was also a part time real estate broker, convinced me that I should take a look at the houses he had listed for sale. There were three different houses, but one of them really caught my eye…small house, big yard with lots of fruit trees, centrally located…a perfect “fixer-upper”. Long story short, I purchased the house on that first ever visit to the island. Six months later, Hurricane Gilbert slammed the island as the strongest ever hurricane in the Atlantic basin (only to be out-done by Wilma in 2005). I returned to Cozumel three months after the storm to find that my house was fine, but all of those great fruit trees were gone. After three hard weeks of cleanup, I left the island again but this time with the house rented. For years, all the money from the rental went back into the house and property making it nicer and nicer every time I visited, which was usually twice a year. In March of 1998, ten years after buying the house, everything changed. I was living in Seattle at the time, and was deeply involved in the glassblowing scene there. I had put together a very successful business doing the “coldwork” or “finishing work” for many of Seattle’s leading glass artists. On my first night of my Cozumel vacation that year I walked into Raga (a downtown night club around the corner from Joe’s), asked an attractive local girl to dance, and history was in the making. Not that I am that good a dancer (trust me on this one), and my Spanish was extremely basic, but somehow I convinced this girl, Liliana, to hang out with me a bit on my vacation. We had a great time, but neither of us wanted anything to do with a long distance relationship, so at the end of my two week vacation, we said goodbye. Well, that didn’t last long. I got back up to Seattle and couldn’t stop thinking about Liliana and sunny Cozumel as I ground away on other people’s glass art in the constant drizzle of the northwest. I visited the island a few times over the next 6 months and then decided to move here. I officially became a Cozumel resident in December of 1998, and will hopefully live the rest of my life here. One of the many side benefits of this change is that it forced me to concentrate on my own artwork instead of working for other artists, and this is how I now make my living. Liliana and I have now shared 15 years of happiness together, we have added on to the house making it comfortable for to both of us live and work from home.  Instead of children, we are the proud parents of three cats. Yes, Cozumel has changed a lot since 1988, but I still love it here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Greg Dietrich is the owner and artist in residence at Galeria Azul, located on avenida 15 norte #449 between 8th and 10th streets. They are open Monday – Friday 11 am – 7 pm, or by special appointment by calling 869-0963.

This story originally appeared in the weekly Cozumel 4 You NEWS – the island’s number one source of positive information about our island!  Be sure and subscribe to the weekly NEWS to find out all the island events!…

Laura Wilkinson

Author at Cozumel 4 You
An ex-Connecticut Yankee who has called Cozumel home for over 18 years, Laura ran away to the Caribbean years ago, bumped around the islands teaching SCUBA diving, lost some time in Jamaica, and finally stopped in Cozumel for a 2 week vacation that hasn’t ended yet. With a degree in Journalism from a fancy private college she convinced her parents to pay for, Laura writes, edits, and creates the weeklyCozumel 4 You news,social media, and promotional articles about the island, as well as moderates the Cozumel 4 You Facebook group, which currently has over 25,000 members. Her long suffering husband, Fabian, has long since resigned himself to having zero private life, as he’s been involved in her various schemes and plots since his arrival. Proud parents to a variety of rescue dogs and cats, Laura continues to be the bane of her traditional Mexican mother-in-law’s existence, as she muses her way through life in the Mexican Caribbean.
Una ex yanqui de Connecticut quien llama hogar a Cozumel desde hace más de 15 años. Laura escapó al Caribe hace años, desplazándose de una isla a otra dando clases de BUCEO. Se dedicó a perder el tiempo en Jamaica y finalmente se detuvo en Cozumel para pasar unas vacaciones de 2 semanas que aún no terminan. Convenciendo a sus padres que pagaran una elegante universidad privada, obtuvo su título en Periodismo y Laura crea semanalmente Cozumel 4You, medios sociales y artículos promocionales sobre la Isla y también es moderadora en el grupo Cozumel 4 You en Facebook que actualmente cuenta con 25,000 miembros. Fabián, s umuy tolerante marido, desde hace mucho tiempo se resignó a no tener vida privada, pues se ha visto implicado en los diversos proyectos y planes que urde Laura. Son orgullosos padres de diversos perros y gatos rescatados. Mientras contempla su paso a través de la vida en el Caribe mexicano,Laura continúa siendo la pesadilla en la existencia de su muy tradicional suegra mexicana.

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