Another fabulous day trip with some nice folks from Florida yesterday; the itinerary was Celestun.
After leaving Las Marionetas hotel in downtown Merida at 7:00 AM, we quickly found our way onto the highway which of course winds its way through what seems like a gazillion little villages and their obligatory speed bumps aka topes which always makes this trip seem so much longer than it actually is, especially if one is stuck behind a slow moving dump truck or bus that stops every 3 feet to let on or off another victim.
Arriving in Celestun at last, we stopped at the 'official' site just past the bridge and inquired about rates for the one hour tour. About 650 pesos for two people, was the price. I usually tell people to not bother with the so-called petrified forest portion of the tour (which is what is added to make it a two hour tour) as it is just a desert of dead mangrove trees; I don't think that them being dried up constitutes petrification. I may be wrong, but that was my impression when I did it.
We decided to check out the Dzinitun option I had tried with my intrepid birdwatcher from Tacoma some time ago and who absolutely raved about the tour. First though, a stop at the market and a fruit stall where we sampled platano dominicano (small extremely tasty bananas, so much more flavorful than the regular bland Safeway bananas); pitaya or dragon fruit, which the stall owner graciously peeled, quartered and served on a little plate with fresh lemon on top and toothpicks; giant slices of juicy red watermelon and a sample of guayas, a lychee-like fruit grown locally.
Then on to Dzinitun. The poled kayaks there run $200 pesos a person and so off they went. The tour lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes and as they were almost done, the fellow at the main site asked if they would be coming back via bicycle (it's all ecological you see). I quickly deduced that since this was not mentioned at the outset, perhaps my Floridians would be hot enough without the kilometer-long bike ride under a 11:00 AM sun and so drove the LawsonMobile through the mangrove on a a sandy road to the point where they came out and had it nice and cool for them.
Unfortunately, due to the rains and rising water levels, there were no flamingos to be seen and asking the guide, learned that there were some flamingos in the area where the salt flats are. Off we went, driving through the mangrove until we finally came to a spot where the flamingos, about 50 of them, were feeding. Their bright pink plumage was gorgeous!
After all that birding excitement, a bite of seafood in beachfront Celestun. A mixed ceviche for her, a fresh fried boquinete for him and a crab and shrimp cocktail for me, and then we were on the road back to Merida, this time via Uman to avoid all the pueblitos on the way back.
A good time was had by all, I believe and it was great fun to chat about everything from politics to birds to tipping practices by nationality. This was a 7 hour trip.