Pink Flamingos

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Day trip from Merida
What I did
Cenotes
pink flamingos

Flag of Mexico  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Many a childhood summer was spent camping at Flamingo Bay, Cape Town. Many a fond memory remains. Now only day trips are allowed since it was turned into a reserve, part of the West Coast National Park in Langebaan. I can only vaguely recall actually seeing any flamingoes, clouded by the mists of time and probably resuscitated by confabulation. So when the opportunity to see flamingos arose, we jumped at it!
 
Mario canvassed interest amongst our fellow hostel-dwellers and the next day we set off with sweet Noelie (Belgium) and hop-along Phil (Australia) on crutches (apparently tequila and a tree were involved!). The simpler, pricier option would've be joining the hostel trip but we opted for adventurous DIY. This involved a walk (and hop!) to the wrong bus station, a whirlwind 25 peso taxi ride to the right bus station (there are at least 6!), a 55 minute wait for the next bus (we'd just missed one!) and 2+ hour uneventful journey to the small town of Celestun. Maybe an organised trip would've been more straightforward but we'd have less of a story to tell!

We arrived around 12:30pm to find the streets of Celestun totally ripped up. Drilling and digging was underway all the way from the plaza to the main street, Calle 12, where all the main accommodation and restaurant spots. So glad we didn't pitch up here with the intention of staying over. The noise would've driven us crazy!! 

An elderly man on a bike hanging out near the station told us the boat deal but he didn't go for the hard sale. There was no need. It was clear what we were there to do (there's not much else!) and it seemed there was only one boat company to choose from. Phil had read something about boats leaving from "the bridge" being cheaper but no bridge was in sight?

So we headed for the beach as directed but at first we hesitated to board the next boat while negotiating and contemplating lunch. To our dismay it filled up before our eyes! We'd have to wait for the next boat to fill up! While strolling back to town in search of food we were called back. Some others had finished their lunch and were ready to roll (or rather row?). We put our hunger on hold for 2 more hours and boarded the 8-man speedboat at a cost of 200 pesos each - the 4 of us and 3 Spanish-speakers of indeterminate origin.

We stopped at a few points of interest which Noelie (who learned Spanish while volunteering at a school in San Cristobal de Las Casas) kindly translated for us - where the states of Yucatan and Campeche meet, where the fresh water from the estuary and salt water from Gulf of Mexico meet, a quick dip in a cenote (sinkhole) amongst the mangroves, but of course the highlight was seeing a sea of bright pink flamingos! There were hundreds of them, more than we had dared hope for. About 200 species of migratory birds call this unique ecosystem their home for some part of the year. It seems the feathered North Americans also migrate to Mexico at this time of year, surely they were the trendsetters!

On our way back to the beach the waters were rather choppy. It made for a bouncy, hair-tangling ride with entertainment from the shrieking Latinas who were occasionally lifted off their seats. Best to keep your tongue far from your teeth, I remember thinking.

Back in the town of Celestun we were starving. We negotiated our way through the roadworks, over a plank and across a trench into a tiny cocina economica (cheap kitchen). The eating area was basically the converted living room of a house. Our suspicions were confirmed when we saw toothbrushes and underwear in the bathroom! They served suitably home-cooked food at the suitably economical price of 40 pesos per dish, even the pan-fried fish. It seems this town has more to offer than just flamingos!  

The chug-chugging of the bus ride home rocked us all to sleep. Siesta after the fiesta.
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Comments

Rebecca Pohl on

This sounds amazing! I'm can't wait to check it out myself. Keep in touch!

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