Sunday, September 4, 2011

Finally, Celestun!

We got up Sunday morning determined to make it to Celestun.  Celestun is in a bio-reserve where hundreds of flamingos live, and I really really wanted to see them.  To me flamingos have always been some strange oddity that live in zoos and in Las Vegas.  But here in Mexico, they live in the wild (!!) and tourists can hire a boat to see them (!!!).  We made our way (on the highway this time) to Celestun, paid our $750 pesos and took a private 1 hour boat ride.  Upon embarkation, our guide informed us that the tropical storm in the Gulf had scared all the flamingos away, so we wouldn't be seeing any today.  NOOOOOOOOO!!!  I guess I have a good reason to come back.

Here is a map of where we were headed, minus the flamingo attractions.

Venturing out into the Ria, we get our first glimpse of the mangroves.

Here we are at Bird Island.  See them circling and plotting??

Here the birds are sitting in a tree having a secret meeting.  The water is very shallow in this channel,  and according to our guide, it is red because of the rainy season.  Interesting. 

Mangroves against the red water.

I'm on a boat.  Oh yeah.

As we floated along, our guide, whom I might add was operating the motor on the boat by touching loose wires to a car battery whenever he wanted to go faster, took a sharp left into that small opening, and took us straight into the mangroves...shortly after telling us that the crocodiles go into these types of openings to hide from the boats...hmmm....

And here we go onto our mangrove adventure.  The guide said this was a completely natural path through the mangroves...perfectly boat-sized, and not at all suspicious.

In here the pictures got really interesting.  The water is no more than 3 feet deep, and the color of blood.  Mixed with the starkness of the mangrove roots, it makes for some pretty haunting imagery.

Kinda spooky....

Alright, here we are back on the open water.  Here there are 2 giant birds that look tiny in the picture.  Do not be fooled!

Here we stopped at the Ojo de Agua.  This is a natural freshwater spring, one of many in this interesting biosphere.  People (not us) were swimming in the coffee colored water here.  They were drinking heavily while doing it, probably so they could forget that they might be eaten by a crocodile at any moment.  Even the Ojo de Agua sign has a picture of a flamingo on it.  :(

There's the Ojo right there!

This is a termite house.  Yuck!!

Many tiny fish babies lived in the warm shallow red waters surrounding the Ojo.  Seemed like a pretty protected little spot for them.

Here we are in the mangrove forest!

One last view straight up before we head back to the docks.

After the boat ride we headed to the beach for some lunch.  We encountered this sign as we walked out.  An important reminder for everyone.  It also begs the question, if a sign such as this is not present, is it okay to "do your needs" on the beach??

I would like to note that no one ordered the "Conch blue crap".

The white sand beach at Celestun, on the Gulf of Mexico.  Beautiful!

Here is a delicious Gulf white fish taco, prepared Yucatecan style.  Unfortunately...this taco, and others like it at the table, would give all three of us gnarly food poisoning on Monday night/Tuesday...but in the moment, it certainly was delicious. 

B and I enjoying the beach before heading to Progresso (a different beach...this beach was clearly just for show and not swimming!) to enjoy the rest of our afternoon.

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