Schlocky T-shirts and cheap maracas from Mexico are never going to see the inside of my daypack. Call me a killjoy, but I much prefer to take home something I can put to good use in my real life. So what to do? Here’s what: During Royal Caribbean‘s Voyager of the Seas stop in Cozumel on Monday, I took a super-fun and fairly new shore excursion, the results of which armed me with seven new salsa recipes. I already know they’re delish, because I prepared and sampled them myself, on a brightly painted, breezy patio overlooking the Caribbean.
I spent Tuesday morning at the Cozumel Hotel and Resort participating in the Salsa, Salsa and Margaritas excursion. Launched in December 2011, this $88 activity is an ideal way to “do” Cozumel – listening to cheery salsa music (recorded, not live) while dicing garlic, onions, tomatillos and serrano peppers, and sipping a freshly made margarita. (Ok, fine, four margaritas.)
A pair of perky chefs – Amanda Taylor Ewart (half cozumeleña, half Wisconsinite) and Maaike Hoekstra (from the Netherlands) – led a group of about 65 cruise passengers in preparing red and green salsas, Oaxacan-style guacamole and other concoctions. Wearing poufy chef hats and mini aprons, we snacked on our creations with fresh chips, quesadillas made with Chihuahuan cheese (from the Mexican state, not the dog) and chicken taquitos. The margaritas flowed freely all morning.
After three hours of dicing, mixing, noshing and imbibing – two hours would have been sufficient – most guests decided to forgo the salsa dancing lesson that followed. The combination of the heat and a gullet full of chips, salsa and tequila made dancing the last thing most folks wanted to do. Plus, the resort’s pool and small beach were available to use as part of the excursion. And the shoppers among the group were worried they wouldn’t have enough time to run to town, so they took off via taxi.
But seven couples did stay for another hour, and the dancing chefs led them in a rudimentary salsa class, breaking down some steps into three easy-to-follow parts. So they get a bonus to take home with them – a few cool dance moves.
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