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The First Cowboys - Vaqueros
Although cattle ranching has never been a big part of Cozumel life due to the rugged terrain and lack of grazing areas, there are plenty of cowboys (vaqueros) that call the island home. And many are expert riders and skilled horsemen.

Contrary to popular belief, the first cowboys were Mexican, not American. The cattle ranching that later emerged in the west was a blend of Mexican and Anglo-American practices but many of the techniques and terms that were used in the American cowboy culture came from the Spanish. In Mexico, the cowboy is called a “vaquero,” which is a form of the word “cow” (vaca), and one out of every three cowboys in the late 1800’s was the Mexican vaquero. Vaqueros working on ranchos or missions were often individuals of mixed race and in the eyes of most Spaniards were nothing more than poor laborers on horseback. Vaqueros developed their skills of roping, branding and rounding up cattle after the Spanish conquistadors introduced them to horses and cattle.

Vaqueros provided not only the way of the work but the words of the trade. “Lariat” is derived from a vaquero’s long rope of braided rawhide used for catching animals, called a riata. Other words from the Spanish such as canyon, chaparral (tough, thick brush), corral, chaps (protective leather leg coverings) hackamore (a headstall or a halter for a horse, usually made of braided rawhide), mustang (wild horse), and savvy (to comprehend) have found their way into the traditional cowboy’s language.

Originally, Mexican cowboys held contests among themselves to show off ranching skills such as bronco riding and roping. Now these rodeo showmen have refined their act so that they provide high-quality entertainment to rodeo fans. A new type of Mexican cowboy or vaquero is the brave and proud charro. A charreada is basically a rodeo, and in Mexico it is a recognized sport with strict rules to be followed during the competitions. Both men and women are allowed to compete, wearing colorful costumes trimmed in silver studs. During intermissions, the horsemen make their mounts dance to a live Mariachi band, while vendors circulate in the stands selling refreshments and snacks.


Vacquero in Traditional SombreroThe horsemen (charros) who compete at charreadas sometimes travel many miles for the competition. They usually start their training as small children because it is often a family tradition, and learn to perform rope tricks and fancy horsemanship on finely-trained steeds, along with bull riding, bronco riding, and steer roping. The charros say their sport is living history, an art form developed from actual skills of a life working on the ranch.

Here on the island of Cozumel vaqueros can most often be found working on horseback riding ranches and tours offered to island visitors. And typically during Cozumel's Carnaval, some vaqueros will dress to ride in the parades while others prefer to wait and show their skills at events held during Festival de Cedral each year in the month of May.

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 Cozumel Dolphin Royal Swim Program
"Action" and "speed" pretty much describe this popular dolphin program! Get a handshake, a kiss and then you give them one. Feel the strength of your new friends as they push you across the water from the bottom of your feet in the thrilling foot-push. It is "the experience of a lifetime!" US$ 149/Adult / US$ 89 child
 Cozumel Atlantis Submarine Adventure
Dive to depths of 100 feet in a REAL submarine piloted by a professional and licensed crew and experience why Cozumel remains one of the top dive destinations in the world. $105/Adult, $65/Child
 Cozumel Playa Mia All Inclusive Day Pass
Enjoy a relaxing "all inclusive" day at this white powder sand beach featuring top notch facilities and tons of activities for kiddos like water cannons, twin water slides as well as a 200 foot long pool and a pirate ship! Here there is an underwater Mayan City, organized games, kayaks, paddle boats, hobie cats and more! US$73 Adult / US$63 Child
 Cozumel Playa Mia Day Pass
Enjoy a relaxing day at this fantastic white powder sand beach featuring top notch facilities and tons of activities for kiddos like water cannons, twin water slides as well as a 200 foot long pool and a pirate ship! Here there is an underwater Mayan City, organized games, kayaks, paddle boats, hobie cats and more! US$ 30 Adult / US$ 25 Child
 Cozumel Country Club Golf
Since its opening, in year 2001, the Cozumel Country Club, Nicklaus Design Group 18-hole golf course has been steadily attracting more travelers to Cozumel. T Time Rates From $ 89 for 18 Holes
 Cozumel Marine Turtle Observation & Baby Liberation Events with FP&M
Sign up for an observation and education session about Cozumel's nesting sea turtles and the volunteer brigades that help in their conservation. Learn about these amazing creatures in the Fundacion de Paques & Museos program and help release hatching baby turtles as they make their way to the sea. From $ 40 - 70 / person donation
Personal Experiences
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First of all, I want to say thank you so much for sharing your wonderful island with my family. Secondly, we did the Royal Dolphin Swim with Dorie and Belle, and it was the most AWESOME time of our lives. One lady in our session cried at the end, saying this was the greatest thing that she has ever done. The Park was beautiful, and everyone was very helpful. Thank you again for a wonderful time. D. Smith ~ USA

Sherri ~ I just wanted to pass along a huge THANK YOU for the dolphin excursion I booked through you in Cozumel for last Wednesday. The experience was something I will remember for a lifetime. Besides my friend and myself, there were only two other participants in our group so the dolphin trainer gave us extra time in the water. GREAT PICTURES were taken of the whole experience!!!!!!! Actually, a few people I spoke to when I got back on the cruise ship booked their excursion through Carnival directly and paid more $$$$ for less time in the water with the dolphins ( no swim, push off, etc). Again, thank you for everything....... D Garrett ~ not given

I must admit, booking our excursion through you and not the cruise ship was unsettling but once we got to your facility all of our doubts were gone. Your park and staff were first class, professional, friendly and even the dophins looked happy. Thank you for a truly once in a life time experience. Your quick response to my e-mails was also appreciated. I can assure you I will recommend your park to anyone that tells me they are going on a cruise. Thanks again. Andressen Family ~ Belle Chasse, LA USA

March, 2007- Wanted to report back about our excursions you booked for us. We loved the
submarine tour. Being able to go down 100' was incredibly exciting! We saw a
turtle and a few large groupers. The reefs were really beautiful, so glad
we did this. Jennifer Lansing ~ Palo Verdes Estate, California

Two friends and I booked the dolphin swim AND got the manatee encounter for 15 minutes for thru Cozumel Insider. The manatee was FREE. The price, including the park, was only $88 when booked in advance. The park fee alone is $21...that's $77 PP for both a dolphin swim with about 11 others, incl. 4 children, AND the manatee. Our party of 3 were the only ones to get the manatee and she was a highlight of our trip. We got to feed her lettuce for almost 15 minutes as the guide explained her life to us. We are grateful for both experiences at such a great price. Thanks, Sherri. I can see where it's harder to find your story on your site. Can you repost it? It's very unusual and inspirational to others. Cheryl & Michael, MA C. Pimental ~ Hingham, MA


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