Wednesday 8 April (happy birthday Evan)
I wanted to see the flamingos, and it seemed the best way to do this was to join a day tour.
We had an early start, and made our first stop at the village of Umán en route, 18km from Merida. There was a church there and a local market. The market was colourful, full of local produce and a DJ. An extraordinary sight to see a DJ spruiking his music in the fruit and veggy market. The local villagers were very lay back and not bothered by pesky tourists.
It was a slow journey through many villages. Our driver/guide provided us with lots of information on the way, pointing out Haciendas of the past, Franciscan style churches and even an open air butcher.
Our guide told us about schools, where 50 years ago the children wore traditional Mayan dress (white) to school. He told us that in a typical Mayan house, they still sleep in hammocks.
Motor cars are limited in this part of the world and we saw many families on bikes – adults with one or two children – similar to what we had seen in Asia. However the Mayan’s are not slim like the Vietnamese, so the bikes appeared rather overcrowded.
We arrived at the lagoon in Celestun and onto the boat, racing up the inlet, past a variety of birds including small flocks of the famous flamingos.
We reached the end of the lagoon, where it was like a carpet of orangey-pink as flamingos strutted through the water, lifting their legs high to stir up the small crustacean that they eat. We just stopped and watched these absurdly coloured birds. As absurd as Alice in Wonderland.
In fact they tell us that these are the most orange flamingos in the world and that has something to do with the minerals in the lagoon.
Our viewing time was up. As we returned we made a sudden turn into the swamps with huge mangrove roots. We didn’t see any alligators, but our guide assured us that the alligators that live here are human friendly. I wouldn’t trust them all the same.
We stopped at a fresh water cenote, where people were swimming. There was a short boardwalk, past bubbling water and lots of small fish.
Then it was back to land and to the open beach for lunch and a walk. The Caribbean certainly is a different colour – a kind of green that is at odds with the blue sky.
I tried Chelada – beer with the juice of lime and ice (it is like a Michelada, another Mexican beer drink, but without the tomato flavour) – to be honest, it ruined a decent beer.
The wind picked up as it does every afternoon in the Caribbean, making the beach slightly unpleasant.
It was a pleasant day, we came away with many, many photos. A few are displayed below.