With just a little over a week until we leave for Spain, we still have time to get in a quick road trip to see a few of the things on our Yucatan Peninsula List. This weekend we hopped over to Rio Lagartos to check out the flamingo reserve and whatever else there might be to see.
Rio Lagartos reminded us of several other port towns we’ve been to: Almirante, where you depart for Bocas del Toro in Panama, and Chiqula, which is where you depart for Holbox. It’s a small town, with some nice hotels along the water, a few decent restaurants, a whole lot of boat captains asking to take you out on a tour and lots of speed bumps and stray dogs. So, pretty typical Mexico.
The hotel was very nice and overlooked the water. That provided a lovely view but we found out later it also provided a front row seat to the captains chilling out drinking with the blaring radio for most of the night. Good thing we were only there for one night.
We arrived around 3pm and it was not too late for a boat tour of the lagoon so we changed our clothes and took off in a boat. First we checked out the flamingos nearby, who did not appear to like us much so we could not get too close. We were close enough to hear them, though. The water was incredibly shallow and we noticed that our boat came with a motor but in a few places he had to pull it up. We also had a stick in our boat, which presumably is our backup motor.
After the flamingos we went to the eastern edge of the lagoon and saw a lot of birds along the way. The great blue heron seemed to be the most available. This thrilled Haley, who did a project on the great blue heron in first grade and still has the large paper mâché bird in our storage unit, waiting for our return.
We arrived at some dunes and our captain took us over the little ledge and told us to go into the “lake”, which appeared brownish/pinkish and was very slippery on the edges. No one was at all sure about this. But we felt like it was a thing so we did it and once we were in it was worth it. The water was only about 4 feet deep but it didn’t matter, the salt content was so high, you just floated. It was the strangest feeling to be so buoyant. We posed for a few pictures and then off we went. Our captain says that the area is private property and earlier in the day there is a guard and you can’t go in, so he didn’t want us to stay very long. Alrighty then! I’m not sure if that’s just one of the stories service people weave to generate a better tip or it’s really the truth. I guess it doesn’t matter.
After the salt float our captain was waiting for us with a bucket of the mud that we had climbed over to the get to the salt lake. We saw another boat doing it so clearly this was also a thing. El Capitan seemed to be a skilled salesman. He spoke straight to our weaknesses and said that the mud would help. He told Haley the mud would help with pimples, and to me and Dan he said the mud would shrink us two sizes smaller. I’m all-in at this point! We knew it wasn’t true but it was worth a shot. Dan was a little less enthusiastic and Zoe, well, she put a small amount on her arm and declared herself done. This is the girl who hates the beach because there’s too much sand. So I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.
We kept the mud on while we boated back to the “Playa”. Well, if you have been to Panama you know that there’s probably not a beach within 3 countries that compares to some of their beaches, so we didn’t have high expectations. In the end it was a small strip of sand and a chance to wash off the Mayan mud. It’ll do in a pinch!
We finished our boating trip, had a nice dinner and settled into our small hotel room for the night. After-the-fact we named this night “name that noise” night because we were constantly disturbed by something: rowdy captains, a washing machine, the television in the room next door, barking dogs and then an unexplained banging half the morning long. This was all heard above the typhoon-sounding air conditioner. So it was a nice place but not exactly restful. You win some and you lose some when you travel with no home base like we do.
The next morning we were headed to Merida but first we had to check out the salt mines down the road. Naggy Homeschool Mom really wanted to get a tour of the whole place and understand how the process works. But alas, it was a Sunday and the salt “factory” was closed. Kids dodged a bullet on that one. But we were able to see the salt piles, the shallow lakes where they allow the water to evaporate and the salt is extracted, as well as the conveyor belt that goes up and over the road, directly out to the sea where it’s loaded onto ships. Pretty interesting even without the tour. I guess salt isn’t all that complicated.
We had hoped to see some crocodiles on our boat tour but they did not appear to us. We were offered a sunrise tour but the only thing more rare than a crocodile sighting is a sighting of a Sherman at sunrise. So we turned down the offer and slept
in fitfully instead. Maybe next time we are in a lagoon we’ll catch a glimpse of a croc. And maybe then Haley will have a better camera.
Too funny! The salty place you floated was part of the salt factory, could you see the piles off in the distance? When we went our guide wouldn’t let us in there because it is private property but he waded in and caught some of the tiny pink shrimp in his hands, the kind the flamingos eat.
We have fantastic photos of all of us covered in mud, our guide had fun posing us like cavemen, the kids holding clubs over an apparently captured Dad, lol. It is a fun place, we plan to go back (but maybe not spend the night after hearing how yours went.)