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Spicy Travels 1 - The Iguana Adventure
C.J. Gustafson, Freelance Writer and Photographer

You have to be in the right state of mind when you come to Cozumel. On a recent trip to the island, I had purposely left my last four nights open without a hotel reservation because I wanted to try somewhere that I'd never stayed at before. After working all day on a photo shoot and review of the Northern Zone hotels, I decided on the Hotel Fontan. They've had a run of bad luck lately and the place has become a bit rundown. IgunaPeople cautioned me to pick somewhere else, but at $40 a night for an oceanfront room with a pool and restaurant onsite, it was too tempting for this cheapskate to resist. The fact that there were all of five other people staying there only added to its appeal.

I'm not squeamish about most things, but I like my bathroom clean and my sheets fresh. The first night I made my way to the Fontan, I was tired and stinky and not in a laughing mood when my key wouldn't open the door to my room. After a fifteen minute ordeal with a young man from the hotel and approximately fifty different keys, we finally found one that worked. I eagerly opened the door, chucked off my dusty, sweaty clothes and prepared to hop in the shower, only to be stopped in my tracks by the little black iguana perched upside down on the doorframe, bobbing his head at me as if I had invaded his privacy.

Okay, check my frame of mind. 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.

The cute little fellow was just disappearing up inside the metal door jam when I finished my shower as if turning in for the night. I got into light comfortable pajamas, grabbed my book and headed for the inviting king-sized bed. The inch long, roach-like bug above the headboard changed my mind. Where's the damn iguana when you need him?

Apparently the noise I made trying to annihilate the invading insect concerned the young man who had helped me earlier. Soon he was knocking on the door to see if everything was okay. I was able to explain the situation to him and he removed the bug by scooping it up in his hands and tossing it out the door. There was no smirking, no shaking of the head, but I couldn't help but feel like a silly, helpless, American woman. I hate that!

Except, as long as I had him there, I figured I should at least mention the iguana. The young man, who had introduced himself as Philipe, looked around the bathroom for a few minutes, then smiled and began stuffing toilet paper up inside the door jam where the iguana had last been seen. After several minutes, he brushed his hands on his pants smiled at me again and chirped, "all better, no?" Well, what could I do? I nodded, thanked him, and sent him on his way.

Okay, I admit it, it took me awhile to get into bed and feel comfortable again. But the sheets were clean and fresh, the day had been long, hot and full of new friends, and in the big scope of things, the bug and the iguana were not all that important. If young Philipe could take it with a grain of salt, so could I. When in Rome, right? I fell asleep to the sound of the surf just steps away from my door.

The next morning the sun rose on my bright, cheery, oceanside room that was costing me just $40 a night. I had slept, I was tan, I had no pending plans. I knew it was going to be a good day. I complimented myself on being a trooper, threw on my swimsuit and stepped outside to dive into the pool for an early morning dip before breakfast. Philipe was across the way, sweeping sand off the patio, and when he saw me he came over with a conspiratorial smile on his face. "Good morning, C.J." he said in English. "I have something for you." He held out his cupped hands, slowly opened his fingers and presented me with a small, rubber iguana! "For you," he said laughing.

I have no idea where he got it, but the toy iguana became my roommate for the remainder of my stay, accompanying me to dinner and sunning with me by the pool. I never saw the real one (or the bug) again. The tale became a shared joke with all the staff at the hotel and apparently transformed me from just another American tourist to a friend and a good sport. My drinks were free, the room was cleaned spotless, the staff treated me like family, and Philipe invited me for a scooter ride and dinner at his house in the heart of the town. My last four days were fabulous!

Like I said, it's all about your state of mind.

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 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.
 Spicy Travels 4 - Barracuda Adventure
Suddenly I saw a large shadow move across the ocean floor and I looked over expecting to see another snorkeler swimming alongside.
 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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