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Spicy Travels 4 - Barracuda Adventure
C.J. Gustafson, Freelance Writer and Photographer

I learned to snorkel on my first trip to Cozumel. I'd always loved the water and was anxious to experience snorkeling for myself. It took about fifteen minutes before I got the hang of it. My goggles kept fogging up and my breathing tube leaked so bad I had to empty it every three or four minutes. But it didn't matter. I was hooked. Under the water, you are in a different world - one where there is much less noise and a sparkling, swaying beauty that I find both calming and exciting at the same time. Even without the fish, I would love being under the surface. There's nothing like it.

That first time, I snorkeled so long I sunburned my forehead badly and it became all one big blister. (I had to put a pillowcase over my head like a bandana for the rest of the vacation.) And every time I've come to Cozumel since, I've spent a good portion of my time snorkeling. I have treasured memories from each time in the water - the time I saw over 20 starfish in one area, or when I found myself in the middle of a school of about 500 black and yellow striped sergeant majors. But the time I was snorkeling alone out in front of the Iberostar resort stands out as one of the most exciting.

I had heard several people say there were large schools of fish under the pier and I thought I would see if I could get some good photos. So I put on my mask and waded into the water. True to its name, the Iberostar has many starfish right out in front of its beach, and I was scanning the bottom and photographing as I made my way to the pier. Suddenly I saw a large shadow move across the ocean floor and I looked over expecting to see another snorkeler swimming alongside. Instead I saw a shiny silver barracuda about 4 feet long with huge teeth in his pouty jaw.

Startled, I jerked away and gasped, managing to suck in a full mouthful of saltwater. Kicking and coughing, I stuck my head above water, situated myself, and quickly went back under to see if the fish was still there.

Despite my thrashing about, the big 'cuda was less than 3 feet away, looking at me as if trying to figure out what all the commotion was about. In my haste and nervousness, I fumbled with my camera trying to line up a shot. But before I could ready myself, the stunning fish swam off past the buoys, leaving only blue ocean in my viewfinder.

Still excited, I poked my head above water looking from left to right to see if anyone else had seen the monster. There were no other snorkelers in the area and I hung my head, thinking nobody was going to believe me. It is one thing to see an amazing creature in the ocean, but it is even more fun to share that with someone else. If only I had gotten a photo. Then I heard a chuckle from above and looked up to see a Mexican man standing on the pier.

"Pescado grande, eh?" he said, holding his arms wide.

"Pescado mucho grande," I replied clutching my heart and laughing with the man. "Wow!" I added before swimming off to look for the little fish under the pier.
Other Interesting Perspectives and Tips by CJ you might Enjoy!
 Spicy Travels - Introduction
Romance, adventure, good food, hot dancing, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences on the island of Cozumel!
 Spicy Travels 1 - The Iguana Adventure
He's little, he's cute, he doesn't bite me, and he eats mosquitoes and other bugs. I'm on a Caribbean island with no worries. Let it go. It is all part of the adventure - but what an experience!
 Spicy Travels 2 - Moonlight Dance Adventure
These are the times in your life where you have to tell yourself that times like these seldom come along in life and you can't let them slip by because you're embarrassed or nervous or afraid.
 Spicy Travels 3 - Language Learning Adventure
My adventure reminded me that there is common ground when it comes to language on Cozumel, with both tourists and locals wanting to learn how to better communicate.
 Travel Tip 1 - Cozumel is a State of Mind
There's something about a Caribbean island that is just fundamentally different from the rest of the world. This definitely true of Cozumel!
 Travel Tip 2 - Always Bring Music
I've learned through my travels that music can set the tone and enhance the enjoyment of almost any activity on the island.
 Travel Tip 3 - Learn Spanish
Although many people on the island speak English quite well, there have been numerous instances where I was glad to know some Spanish.
 Travel Tip 4 Ė Explore Cozumelís Underwater World
Donít let fear of the unknown keep you from experiencing Cozumel's beautiful underwater world. This truly is one of the most unforgettable aspects of the island and there is more than one way to experience this!
 Photo Tips - Introduction
The endless supply of subjects, the beautiful lighting, and constant activity make photograhing Cozumel basically effortless
 Photo Tips 1 - Cozumel Sunsets
Cozumel has some of the most beautiful sunsets to be found on earth. Here are some tips on capturing them!
 Photo Tips 2 - Hit the Tourist Spots
Don't avoid the tourist spots completely because they provide some good photo opportunities as well as fun activities - all in one location!
 Photo Tips 3 - Walk Don't Ride (At Least Part of the Way)
It has been my experience that very rarely do you get good Cozumel pictures riding in the back seat of a taxi cab.
 Photo Tips 4 - San Miguel & the West Coast
Taking pictures in town can be a bit of a challenge because there is usually so much activity. But thatís what makes it so interesting!

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