Well, we made it back to Cozumel in time to catch the last night of Carnival (Fat Tuesday). Cozumel celebrates Mardi Gras with the rest of the world, with one exception. If there are elections at the same time as Carnival, they will move it 1 week. The reason? There is no alcohol sold during elections, and since you can't have a proper Carnival without partying like a rock star they elect to change the date.
For such a small island, the locals really go all out. There are parades on Saturday, Sunday and of course Tuesday. The procession goes down the Malecon (the main esplanade along the seawall) for over a mile and then circles back around on the other side. Carnival in Cozumel is more of a family affair. It is the children that are out trying to get beads from the floats and the gringos on the hotel balconies. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of scantily clad women, outrageous costumes, crazy floats, dancing, music and flamboyance but nothing on the scale of New Orleans or Rio.
The sidewalks and the median are jammed packed as well as all of the restaurants along the route. We were fortunate to be invited to a second floor hotel room with two balconies by a local expat (thank you Jon Cole). Everybody brought drinks and there was plenty of food. It was also nice to have a/c and a bathroom. We also got to meet a lot of new friends. The parade itself actually took about 2 hours to finish going up towards the north end of town. When we left they were just coming back on the other side.
There are drink stands and food carts all up and down the parade route. There are food and drink vendors in the main square as well as the park area around city hall. In the park there are also rides for the kids. It is truly a festive event. The Tuesday night party continues well into the night in the bars and cantinas and trust me the locals can party.
We of course should be back next year. If it's cold up where you are at that time, grab some beads and candy for the kids, and head on down to some fun and sun.