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We had a wake up call at 8:30, in anticipation of our port call in Cozumel today.

We had breakfast from the omelet station again today, after which we headed back to the room to ready ourselves for today's excursion, which was horseback riding at the Ranchos Buenavista.

We had a group of about 28 people, with an unusually large amount of beginners—so many that they really didn't have enough of the gentle horses that they usually assign to beginners. With only two other riding times in my experience, I ended up with one of the less gentler horses, as there were a plethora of people who had never ridden before.

After we had a short lesson on how to "talk" to our horses—no verbal commands were involved, so we didn't have to learn to say, "Giddy-up" or "Whoa" in Spanish—this newbie (zero experience) was put on her horse, and it just started walking off into the distance. She had absolutely no control of it. The guide got a little annoyed, "I just told you how to control your horse." It was kind of hysterical how she just rode off into the sunset, so to speak, and just kept going until one of the ranch hands ran over to get her.

I ended up really liking my horse, Tres Ojos (Three Eyes)—he was a real go-getter, but listened very well, too. He walked, trotted, and galloped over a six mile trail—three miles out and three back.

There were iguanas scurrying about everywhere. Here's one crossing one of the horse's path.

I took three pictures of Joe on his horse, but unknowingly I had his camera set on video. I may get industrious and upload one of them to youtube, but don't count on it.

We had a little incident getting off my horse at the end. I had to touch down on the ground with my right leg with the sore knee, and my left foot got stuck in the stirrup in such a way that I had to hop, which spooked my horse. He jumped up in the air wildly, hitting the ranch hand in the head and taking a slice of skin off my thumb in the process.

We had free cervezas afterwards, and this cutest, shyest young boy who was the photographer and took pictures of all of us at the beginning of the ride, came over to show Joe and I the picture he took of us.

We both loved it, and when we asked how much it was he said, "Ten dollars," almost apologetically. When we asked if it was possible to buy another copy, he almost had pain on his face when he said, "I'm sorry, but if I do, I have to charge another ten dollars."

"That's fine," we said.

And he said back, hesitantly, "Another ten dollars? It's okay? I'm so sorry."

"It's fine," we repeated. "20 U.S. dollars, right?"

"Yes," he said again apologetically.

On the bus ride back, we bought another round of Coronas (for $2 a bottle), and yes drank from open containers in the bus. Also, I asked one of our guides if there were any gay bars in town.

At first he said no, and then corrected himself saying that there was one, but that it was only open at night.

I said, "Okay, thanks," but after a few minutes he seemed to be second-guessing himself and he asked his amigo about it—across the seven people sitting within hearing distance. However, the conversation was in Spanish, so I don't think any of them knew what the conversation was about.

The other guy said that it was definitely open in the afternoon, quipping, "I go there all the time." They told us that the name of the place was Delphinus.

Arriving back at the pier in the center of town, we went back aboard the ship to shower and change clothes.

After that, we had lunch. I had their grilled chicken sandwich with some fries and sautéed mushrooms. Joe had their Reuben with sauerkraut sandwich. After that, we both split a turkey wrap. And for dessert? You guessed it—ice cream cones.

We went back off the ship, and talked to a couple of the taxi drivers asking them about a ride to Delphinus, but they told us that they weren't open in the afternoon—that all of the bars didn't open until around 6:00 or 7:00 PM.

However, Senior Frogs was right there in front of us and there was all kinds of noise coming out of that place. Since it's a Cozumel staple, and right across the street from the pier at which our ship was docked, we went in.

Perhaps as foreshadowing of what the place was going to be all about, this was one of the several "decorations" on the ceiling of the entrance ramp. (Not sure about the "Acapulco" reference, as we were clearly in Cozumel.)

We each ordered a drink that was in a "yard" glass—mine banana-based and Joe's lime-based. 

Each glass came with a warning printed on its base.

While we waited for our drinks, this adorable guy stuck sombreros on our heads and took a picture of us. After a little while, he came back to our table with the picture in this adorable frame, and wanted to sell it to us for $27.

"Oh, no thank you," I said.

"I can take it out of the frame, and just put it in an envelope, for $17."

I said, "No, thank you. I'm not paying that much for a picture."

"Aww come on," he mouthed and pouted a little.

Also, during the time we sat there, these little coochie-mamas came by our tables a couple of times trying to sell us shots of Sex on the Beach for $3.50 each. We were starting to get tired of people asking us to spend money in one form or another.

The straight people in there were getting absolutely shit-faced. Trying to dance. Participating in contests, one of which consisted of three female volunteers up on the stage drinking out of baby bottles (complete with rubber nipples), while the men screamed like banshees.

Once a whistle blew, the girls stopped sucking the bottles, and started blowing up balloons, and while they did, the emcee kept yelling, "Keep blowing until it pops," to which all of the men slapped their knees in hysterics.

"Check, please!" I said. And we paid the $31 bill for our two drinks—more expensive than silk almost, at $15.50 a "yard."

On the way out of there and back to the ship, I bought a refrigerator magnet ($2 US) and a pair of batteries for my camera ($3 US).

We got back on the ship at about 5:50, and I went to the library to catch up my blog.

Joe arrived with cocktails at about 6:20, just in time for our 6:30 Friends of Dorothy meeting, during which we had a surprise visit: five members of the staff to clean the library and a New York Jewish matriarch of a family—none of whom I would guess knew anything about Dorothy, the wizard, or even Toto, too.

We adjourned the meeting and yellow-brick-roaded it the hell out of there.

We had an early, casual dinner. I had the salad bar, and we both tried the chocolate cake for dessert, which was probably the tastiest dessert (other than the ice cream cones) that we've had so far. Most of the cakes (including the cheesecakes) have been quite bland.

After dinner, we made our traditional bar rounds—starting at the Violins bar and ending up at the Piano Bar, where Brady was off, and substituting was Hvrejo, a gorgeous man from Croatia.

He played and sang a good mix of songs we did know, as well as introducing us to several beautiful songs that we didn't know. He sang about three songs dedicated to his ex-wife, a Parisian to whom he was married for two years. His current girlfriend was actually on the ship with him, though we're not sure in what capacity; that is, as a guest of his or as another employee.

He took a break after about 45 minutes, during which we went over to the Candlelight Lounge to see what karaoke was like tonight. It was pretty much the same crowd, so after about 10 minutes, we went back to the Piano Bar and Hvrejo.

He kept holding up his drink(s) and saying, "Salut!" which reminded me of Robert all night long. At one point he got a shot, and said to me, Joe and Mary, "Come up and share this with me."  We weren't sure if he was kidding or not, so we didn't get up, and he said, "Aww, come on! You're not going to turn down an invitation to share a drink with a friend?"

It looked like a liqueur to me. "What kind of drink is it?" I asked.

"It's Jack Daniels." I was up on it! Joe and Mary followed, much to Hvrejo's delight. Salut!

There was a lady there named Mary, originally from Ireland and currently from just north of Boston, and the three of us basically closed the place down at about 1:00. Hvrejo was supposed to stop at midnight, but we were all having so much fun that he played an extra hour, including a short rendition of Happy Birthday at midnight for Joe as he turned 40.

Just before that, he (Joe) went to the restroom, and while he was gone, Hvrejo came to the edge of the stage and said to me, "May I have a private moment with you?" I went up to him and he said quietly, "I want to ask you a personal question. I hope you won't be offended, but are you two a couple?" He had a can of Red Bull in his hand.

"No," I said. "We are gay, but we're not a couple. We're just friends."

"Oh, okay." And as he handed me the Red Bull, he said, "I hate to not have a gift to give to such a good audience member for their birthday, so would you give your friend this for me? It's nothing really, but it's something they gave me, and I'd like to give it to him."

Sweet man, and beautiful. Little did he know we'd drink anything from him—out of the palm of his hand or out of his mouth even.

We actually resisted a midnight meal, and went back to our cabin, where we found our bottle of champagne chilling as requested of our steward earlier in the day. We filled out our room service request, which included six glasses of orange juice, and then hit the sack.

Happy Birthday, Joe.



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