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Spicy Travels - Introduction
Romance, adventure, good food, hot dancing,
and once-in-a-lifetime experiences on the island of Cozumel!

C.J. Gustafson, Freelance Writer and Photographer


My name is C.J. Gustafson and I am a freelance writer and photographer from Minnesota. About five years ago, a wonderful friend introduced me to Cozumel. For the week I spent on the island, I was at peace and everything was right in my world. I've been coming back every year since. Although I travel extensively with family and friends, I usually come to Cozumel by myself because it's the best place I've found to rejuvenate and clear my thoughts. The sun and the ocean and the friendly people of Cozumel sooth my soul and give me back the energy I need to deal with my hectic, demanding life. Plus I enjoy exploring on my own and getting to know the real Cozumel.

Traveling the back streets, making friends with the local people, and searching out opportunities to learn about the island, I've accumulated a wealth of anecdotes, ideas, tips and suggestions that the folks at Cozumel Insider thought might be interesting or helpful to those thinking of visiting this slice of paradise. I hesitated at first because although I've had some exciting and unique experiences on the island, I'm certainly no expert. And the Cozumel Insider is already loaded with accurate and useful information. But the website organizers felt strongly that tourists like to hear about places from other tourists.

So, because I love Cozumel and want to see others have unique and real adventures that will stand out in their memories for years, I've agreed to share my insights and experiences. Of course, there are some great tourist places on the island that are a must for any visitor, and I'll mention them as well, but I truly feel that the best travel experiences happen when you venture out on your own and immerse yourself in the daily life of a destination.

A bit about myself: I'm single, in my mid-thirties, and a bit of a thrill seeker. I get out there and explore the whole island. I stick my neck out and take risks and I want some spice in my vacation, whether that be adventure, good food, hot dancing or once-in-a-lifetime experiences. But I'm not stupid. I approach it all with a healthy dose of common sense mixed in. And very few of my adventures involve too much alcohol, although I have sampled the food and drinks at most every watering hole on the island - for research purposes, of course!

So families and somewhat more conservative travelers can rest assured, I'll try to share activities that appeal to everyone, and we'll keep it clean (although I'll be leaving out the best parts). I'll share a tip and include a link to a story about one of my adventures that goes along with the tip. The stories are true but the names of the people involved have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty.

I'm not telling you to do what I've done, I'm saying here's what's possible on this amazing island. Let's see what fun you can have. The main point is to give you real-life insight into the island so you can get the most out of your Cozumel trip and create a unique vacation experience that suits you. We all have it in us to be savvy travelers, island insiders, or local legends. We just need a little knowledge and some inspiration.

In a separate section on the website called Photographing Cozumel, I share pictures I've taken on the island and give tips on how and where to shoot Cozumel. You don't have to be a pro to take great pictures on an island as beautiful and diverse as this. You just need to know some insider information.

I look forward to contributing to the website in the coming months, and I'd love to hear about experiences others have had on the island. Please be sure to let the folks at Cozumel Insider know if you find this addition to the website helpful and entertaining.

Spicy travels everyone!

Other Interesting Perspectives and Tips by CJ you might Enjoy!
 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.
 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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