Cozumel, Mexico is a blue water paradise. Divers and snorkelers from all over the world come to experience the Mesoamerican Reef System, discovered by Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s. Cozumel, in the Mexican Caribbean, has grown up since then, and gained in amenities such as the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course and numerous luxury, all-inclusive hotels. One of the seemingly undiscovered changes in Cozumel is the quality of the food and the restaurants. It’s not just tacos, chips, and salsa anymore! Now there is true culinary artistry for traveling foodies to enjoy. I’ve been visiting Cozumel for over 20 years, and I found these restaurants through local people; they are a bit off the beaten path.
Dona Noire picked out a parachute-looking seed pod from a table laden with colorful fruits and vegetables and peeled back the outer layer to reveal a tiny yellow fruit inside. “The fruit of love,” she said, and handed it to us to eat. “This will be your breakfast juice tomorrow and after you drink it I will show you where it grows.” The following morning after a breakfast sourced entirely from her family farm, she led us through her garden pointing out not only her plants (she grows incense among her flowers and fruits) but also how the farm recycles ordinary items instead of buying materials. Used tires form steps and garden beds. Used rubber boots become the insulating base for the house. Broken glass gets mixed into concrete for benches. Discarded stuffed toy animals get turned into garden scarecrows.
Located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, Bodie was discovered by William S. Bodey in the mid-1800s, a period in time which saw the height of the California gold rush. This is how Bodie got its name. Some argued that the difference in spelling was due to an error made by an illiterate sign printer; however, it was found to be deliberately done for the sake of easy pronunciation.
The trail begins at the ridge road and descends, gradually at first, into the tropical rainforest. The curry-like fragrance of the spice trees and the twittering songs of the tropical birds surround you, as does the overarching canopy of the trees. Still feeling like you’ve entered another world, the wooded path climbs steeply upward again until it comes out on the canyon rim. What a dizzying drop-off! What a spectacular view! Far below is the green-treed bottom and far across are striated red cliffs. The gulf between is wide and deep — vast enough for helicopters to glide free, along with the tropicbird with its long feathered tail. Once hikers have reached this red clay ridge, they tend to traverse it gingerly, wary of the railing-free edge.
The hiking gets progressively more challenging as the days go by and we venture further and higher into the Himalayas. The air gets thinner and the terrain becomes steeper. Our lungs strain to get enough oxygen to our bodies. By the end of some days, my calves feel like lead and my knees are like jelly. Many times a day I briefly wonder why I am putting myself through this physical ordeal. Then I look up and take time to appreciate the panorama, or smile to a local child who offers a friendly greeting of “Namaste,” and all my pains are forgotten.