The Yucatán and Flamingos
February 19 - March 3, 2023
It was marvelous: flamingos and the Maya culture. Let's start with the region I traveled through - the area where the Maya civilization lived from 2000BC to 1650AD until the Spanish arrived to introduce their way of life. Mayan people still live in Mexico today in this area of course. I visited the pyramids at Uxmal. The ruins of the ceremonial structures at Uxmal represent the pinnacle of late Maya art and architecture in their design, layout and ornamentation, and the complex of Uxmal and its three related towns of Kabah, Labná and Sayil admirably demonstrate the social and economic structure of late Maya society: 700AD to 900AD.
I hired a local birding expert, Joel Ortega, to guide me around Mérida and Uxmal. I was rewarded with many species and tales of the local area.
Next stop was to visit with my friends Julie and Craig, who have been living on the north coast of the Yucanán peninsula (just east of Progreso) like quite a few 'snowbirds' from Canada. It was great to see Julie again and spend some time around their area seeing the ruins and visiting some serious birding hot spots. Thanks Craig for the fabulous meals! And here I saw my first coral coloured American Flamingo!!
Onwards from Julie's house - driving myself of course - across the state of Yucatán - to Rio Lagartos. A small town of fishing people and boat owners who take tourists to see Flamingos. These flamingos feed in the man made salt ponds on shrimp. Flamingos really are the color of what they eat. Many plants produce natural red, yellow or orange pigments, called carotenoids. Carotenoids give carrots their orange color or turn ripe tomatoes red. They are also found in the microscopic algae that brine shrimp eat. As a flamingo dines on algae and brine shrimp, its body metabolizes the pigments — turning its feathers pink.! I took a sunset birding trip with Diego Nuñez who is a bird expert and owns a local restaurant. The setting sun added such a beautiful color to all the birds we saw - and we saw a lot of bird species.
And then I left the state of Yucatán and headed to Quintana Roo and the city of Playa del Carmen hoping to visit some of the preserves on the east side of the peninsula - not far from Cuba actually. Not a great move. I booked myself into an All-inclusive Hyatt. A great staff but the culture shock from small fishing village to place where people just go to drink, eat and don't leave the location - wasn't really want I wanted. I did travel south to see the lagoons but didn't see the Toucan! A long shot at best. I did play 2 hours of pool volleyball and got a bad bad sunburn. A few of my other favorite pictures from the trip:
I took this picture of a Cenotes just before I jumped in!