Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ek Balam and Ria Lagartos Day Trip

I got an email in July or August from a gentleman who wanted to visit Ek Balam and Ria Lagartos with a friend and we agreed on a day trip into Yucatan's interior.

A 6 am pickup followed by a 2 hour drive to Valladolid and Temozon, where we had a tasty and extremely typical taco and torta breakfast from a cart in front of the village church.

Ek Balam was 10 minutes away and shortly, we were exploring the Mayan ruins there. The heat was oppressive thanks to the humidity but we spent a good hour or so exploring. The view from the top of the main pyramid is amazing!

From Ek Balam, another 1.5 - 2 hour drive to Ria Lagartos, in pouring rain (a real downpour!!) which dissipated until it was a mere drizzle, which accompanied us for the rest of the trip. The flamingo and bird watching tour was great, especially if you are the bird-watching type. There are also crocodiles which the guide will point out for you. Personally, I thought the highlight of the trip was the opportunity to float in the salty canal (where the local salt industry produces table salt) and the muddy facial applied by the tour guide to those willing to indulge.

Lunch in nearby San Felipe (much more picturesque and especially photogenic when the afternoon sun comes out after a rainfall) was seafood and quite good.

Then, the long drive home which was done in one fell swoop. Long, a little tiring but overall, worth it. I dropped off my guests at around 11:00 pm.

This was an all-day trip!

Typical Drive Around

At the beginning of the year, February or March more likely, I had the opportunity to meet some fine folks who were visiting Merida and actually bought a home here to fix up and rent!

I picked them up at their downtown hotel and we drove out to Dzibilchaltun, where we explored the Mayan ruins and visited the excellent museum. After that, a drive out to the coast and Progreso's malecon (think boardwalk without any boards) for a look around and finally, a stop at my home to have a drink and check out the local vegetation in my backyard which was one of the things they wanted to see.

This little tour lasted about 4 hours, not including the time spent chatting at the house!

Introduction Part One - Driving the Yucatan with William Lawson

Jerry Seinfeld said that only a male mind could conceive of going all the way to the moon and then getting out the car built specially for driving on the moon and just 'driving around'. Most of us do; I know I like to just get in the car and if it is a different route from the daily routine, my mind wakes right up.

However, there are people - especially when they are on a trip and even more especially when they think of driving in Mexico - that are hesitant about getting behind the wheel. Their main concern seems to be mostly regarding other (Mexican) drivers and the quality of the roads, followed by fear of traffic cops and "bandidos" (really, someone told me this), and finally the possible ripoffs involved in renting a car and or the time and hassle involved in travelling by bus.

This is where I come in. I figured that after living in the Yucatan for about 20 years of my existence, I knew a little about the local culture and mindset and that, combined with my love of driving around (see Jerry's comments above) would enable me to provide a unique service to some travellers who wanted a glimpse inside the Yucatecan lifestyle, provided by someone who also had a complete understanding of where they were coming from.

So I started Lawson's Driving Service. The idea is not to replace any particular form of transportation but to provide a combination of insight and answers to all those questions you might have (ok most of them), while getting a ride somewhere.