One of the day-trips I most wanted to take from Merida was to the natural reserve of Celestun, which is famous as a site where flamingoes go. I booked a tour with “Ecoturismo Yucatan” which seems to have been bought by Turitransmerida. This was our first packaged tour and after yesterday’s traveling experiences, we were looking forward to being taken from door to door and pampered the whole way. We got in our van at 9:00 am, picked up 11 other guests and headed off to Celestun. Our guide, Braulio (he told us we could call him Mel Gibson if we couldn’t pronounce it, so we knew he’d be a joker right away), also took us through three Mayan villages along the way. He told us about health problems; language issues, and about the myth that the Mayans went ” back” to Mars and Venus. Once we got to Celestun, we quickly changed into our bathing suits, got into two small boats and headed out into the lagoon to see the birds. Warner and I were on the “gringo” boat and so didn’t have the benefit of our guide for the first part of the trip, though we did see a white bird of some sort and a young crocodile right away. As we rounded the corners into the lagoon, a few birds went by but then we arrived at the area where the hundreds of flamingoes were feeding.
Fortunately, I had binoculars with me, so I saw this spectacular sight of them, but I wasn’t able to get a photograph that did them justice. Warner however, did get some great shots; Most of today's pictures are his.
After gazing at the flamingoes for a while, we listened to Braulio talk about why they are pink (because of their diet) and other interesting details, such as they can’t swim, and then we went into the mangroves. While we were there, we also saw a tiny kingfisher bird, of which I again could not get a good picture. After that part of the trip, we went to a different part of the mangroves, where there was water for swimming, so after mustering up my courage, I jumped in and paddled around a bit
just before we headed back to the boats for our trip to the beach.
Although it was not as informative (or as long) as the bird-watching tour with Cesiak in Si’aan K’aan, the trip was quite enjoyable, the weather was beautiful, and we saw flamingoes standing, eating, and in a few cases, flying right by us.
As one of the other travelers in our boat said, they “look like pencils”- but that doesn’t capture how truly spectacular and graceful they are.
If you plan to go, you should make sure you get a guide who knows birds though, because the boatmen rarely speak English and won’t explain anything to you. Following the flamingo ride, we went to the beach at Celestun where we ate lunch and had about 1 ½ hours to enjoy the beach before heading back to Merida, refreshed. This time, Warner swam and I basked in the sun. Later, we watched some kids play soccer with a dog and Warner photographed several terns in the wind.
We got back to Merida relatively early today so we had time to do some last-minute shopping at the "Casa Des Artesenias" where Warner got himself a Guyabera shirt, and for once we ate dinner on Meridian time, at 9pm. We went to “Chaya Maya” where we had Chaya drinks - "Medicinal" said Warner- and a bland sample of Yucatan specialties. Oh well, every meal can't be fantastic.