It’s been almost 10 years since I made Cozumel my home. Unlike so many who have done the same, I did not come for the love of diving (I don’t) or the tranquility (I like big cities).

I came on a cruise ship in November of 2003 with a girlfriend to celebrate my divorce, which had just been finalized in October. Part of my settlement was that I received half of my ex-husband’s American Express points, which I wanted to use for a vacation. As it was a less than amicable divorce and my ex had to book the trip, I took the easiest vacation option available which was a 5-day cruise out of Galveston. He booked it.
I moved out of the house and into a beautiful new apartment and spent almost every day shopping for beautiful items to decorate my new digs. I was not working as I had left my job when I married to help my ex with his job. I had a little money in the bank and planned to start job-hunting soon after I returned from the cruise.

Leaving behind an apartment decorated to the nines, phone, cable and internet agreements signed for 18 months, I left for our ¨Western Caribbean ¨ cruise with my friend, Gina.We had fun on the ship. Our dinner companions were a group of women (about our age) who were looking to have a good time. We all agreed to sign up for the Fury Sail and Snorkel excursion out of Cozumel and go together.

Unfortunately, the weather that day was not cooperative. It was rainy and windy (what I know now to be the beginning of a norte) and the group we met opted to cancel. Gina and I decided to walk to the boat anyway and, upon seeing the gloomy looks on the handful of people that remained, concluded that we would go and be the lives of the party. At the same time, I noticed a rather handsome man, who looked to be in charge, eyeing us intently. Turned out that he was waiting to see if he was going to have to cancel the trip but was told to go if 2 more people showed up….ruined his potential day off!

Once aboard, we met the crew and the supervisor, ¨Danny¨, and began to relax and enjoy the trip. We liked Danny immediately. He was charming, outgoing and funny. Turned out he was just coming out of a caustic marriage as well. We spent the day commiserating about our bad marriages and agreed to meet later that evening at Carlos and Charlie’s.   Danny showed up with his roommate who promptly whisked Gina onto the dance floor. As they danced, Danny turned to me and asked if I wanted some Chapstick to which I replied, “Sure!” He leaned over and kissed me and I just laughed at how cheesy a move that was. It worked, though, and I was smitten.

The ship was leaving in a couple of hours so we hung out and they took us back to the pier. I was disappointed to have to say goodbye to Danny but that was it….I thought.

The next day we docked at Calica and Gina and I took a taxi to Playa del Carmen. As we sat on the beach nursing margaritas, I said I wished we didn’t have to get back on the boat and Gina agreed. Next thing we knew we were at the Purser’s desk making arrangements to jump ship! We had 15 minutes to gather all of our belongings and race to the office to fill out the paperwork. We then had to wait for a liaison from immigration to escort us off the ship, to the cheers of the friends we had made and the many others who heard that we were staying. The immigration representative told us he had to go back to Cozumel to process us into the country and we could meet him there later after we got settled into a hotel in PDC. After moving into a hotel near the ferry pier, we took an evening ferry to Cozumel and met up with the rep to get our paperwork. We decided to celebrate with a few drinks so we went to Sr. Frogs for a few.  Tired and a bit woozy from the drinks, we decided to check into a room down the street at Plaza las Glorias rather than race to catch the last ferry.

We were also completely convinced that it was a sign that we had to come back to Cozumel to pick up the paperwork and therefore had to find Danny, so the next morning I got up at 6:00 and took a taxi to the Fury pier. I asked someone if he was around and they radioed him. Needless to say, he was shocked to see me. Happy, but shocked.

Two days later my friend went back to Houston (much to her husband’s relief) and I stayed at Plaza las Glorias for almost a month while I figured out if this budding romance was the real thing. Shortly thereafter, I returned to Houston to pay off all of my commitments and give away most of my belongings. What didn’t fit into 2 trunks and 2 suitcases was either give away or stored.

Almost 10 years later, Danny and I are very happy here in Cozumel. I started working for the Occidental Vacation Club 9 months after I jumped ship and asked Danny to work with me. We have a great job where we get to work together and meet the best people and just love our life.

It is an adjustment to go from a big city (Houston) to a small island and it’s funny the things you miss. I have never accepted the milk here. I miss milk. I cannot get my favorite wine here but am lucky to have many customers/friends willing to bring it me to me on a fairly regular basis. I have never been able to buy shoes here as a size 10 but can now order things from Amazon and Macy’s and have them shipped down.

I miss my family the most but they come down at least once a year and our 3-year old granddaughter has been five times already. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy our visits to the States every fall but I am always happy to get back home.

Madeline Mason is the Member Services Manager at the Occidental Vacation Club.  Throughout the year, she and her partner, Danny Guedea, participate in many charitable events, especially those involving children, including distributing school supplies and Christmas presents to island kids.

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!…


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