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Iguana, Puerto Morelos, MexicoCrococun is on the way to Puerto Morelos

Crococun has seen better days, but it is still a great place to see the local wildlife. Get a guide at the entrance (tip him at the end) and you can hold crocodiles, monkeys, boas, baby deer, and parrots. If your Spanish is good, you can also learn about the animals. Be sure to pet the hairless Mayan dog. It feels sort of like a pig. Maya used to eat them. Cover yourself with bug repellent before getting out of the car. Between the deer flies and mosquitoes, you will need it.

Puerto Morelos is really a port

Puerto Morelos really has an active commercial port. Some of the hotels have an ocean view, but all you can really see is big cargo ships unloading. From this port you can get the car ferry to Cozumel, although it is expensive and often full - just go on the passenger ferry from Playa del Carmen. It is easier.

It is pretty quiet

Morelos does have an OK beach and a few restaurants and small hotels. It is a small town - under 3000 people - and is easy going and safe. There are several houses for rent on the beach.

It is actually cheaper to take a taxi here from the airport than to get to the hotel zones in Cancun. Las Palmeras restaurant serves superb whole fried fish and is right on the beach. Johnny Cairo's is also a good place to eat - small menu, but tasty. An excellent chef has opened his own gourmet restaurant in Puerto Morelos, John Gray's Kitchen, 998-871-0449. It is popular, so make reservations.

There is a good bookstore there, Alma Libre Libros They have a good selection of new and used books on all subjects and in all languages. Open Tuesday - Saturday 10am-3pm and 6-9pm, Sunday 4-9pm Tel: 998 871 0713

What's past Puerto Morelos?

The tour at the Jardin Botanico Dr. Alfredo Barrera takes you through the jungle to explain how the native flora are used - chicle, medicinal plants, etc. There is a walking tour and some of the plants are labeled (both in English and Spanish). Bring your mosquito repellent or live to regret it (or die from your itchy bites).

You can rent horses ($25/hour) for a ride through the jungle and on the beach at El Rancho Grande. They also have donkey polo, which is pretty entertaining.

Can't miss the big sign for La Posada del Capitan Lafitte. They have 50+ beachfront rooms, and each room has its own private balcony where you can watch the waves. Lafitte has a restaurant and dive shop, and decent snorkeling and fishing.

Even better is KaiLuum. Follow the dirt road down to the security gate. Once within the grounds of La Posada del Capitan Lafitte, keep to the right. Follow the signs and torches to the Kailuum reception area. This incredible place has beachfront tents and no electricity, but the tents are spacious and have comfortable beds and maid service. Excellent meals are served by candlelight in an huge open, sand floor palapa.

Mexico the Beautiful Cookbook

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