Merida Road Trips

I’ve had a car since I was 16, so this reliance on public transit while I’m traveling is a mixed blessing. On one hand I don’t have the responsibility, but I do miss the independence of going when and where I want.

Last year Lois and I did a small group tour to Uxmal. The Mayan ruins were great, the waiting not so much. Then Viveka and I went to Chichen Itza, but used a private driver and tour guide. Much better.

This year I wanted to go to Celestun to see the flamingos. I read up the companies that did tours, and couldn’t decide. Silvia, who manages the house I’m renting, recommended a driver who would take me out to the boat and then to the beach for lunch. But even better, she said she loves to go there, and would I like to go with her on Saturday!

Flamingos! Thousands of them! The horizon was pink. I saw more than my camera could capture. The pilot cut the motor and we just drifted, listening to them quacking away.

Then he took us down a very spooky path through the mangroves, where the bases of the trees are under water.

Oh, did I mention there were crocodiles?

And termite nests

But also a very beautiful fresh water geyser pool

Then it was lunch at the beach

Yesterday we went to see two haciendas, which were large farms using Mayan labor. Similar to feudal system in Europe and plantations in southern US. Their heyday was in the early 1900’s when they used henequen to make rope before synthetics replaced it. Last year Viveka toured a hacienda where they had all the equipment working to demonstrate how it was done.

Haciendas were abandoned and most fell into decay until the 1990’s. Now many have been restored and are hotels, restaurants and and venues.

Hacienda Yaxcopoil is still privately owned and set up as a museum. The outside looks worn but the inside was beautiful. There was a double Moorish arch gate and a huge tree in the middle of the front ‘lawn’.

Hacienda Ochil is being used for a restaurant. It also has a cenote, or pool of fresh water that you can access through a cave-like entrance. They have also created a beautiful amphitheatre that is used for concerts.

Hundreds of iguanas

Then it lunch time again! We drove to Progreso on the coast. The blue tarps give the pictures an odd look! I tried my first Michelada. It is beer mixed with some combination of lime juice with hot sauce/Maggi/soy sauce/Worcestershire sauce with Tajin on the rim. The straw is wrapped in a sheet of tamarind fruit leather. Interesting. Then we had some ceviche and a shrimp pizza. It was only 6 inches wide, so you can estimate how big the shrimp were!

Then it was time for another short boat trip to an eco reserve. It was very popular with local families swimming in the cenotes.

Beautiful Quinceañera celebrating her 15th birthday

There are also many raccoons and coatimundi. Many! And just wandering around with the people.

The warden fed them two handfuls of dog food, and it was crazy! They also have a strict rule of not bringing any food to the island, and I can see why as it could be a problem when these little guys are not shy.

It was another great day, and I was very fortunate to have a fun and knowledgeable guide!

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