Mexico: Merida Hammocks & Celestun Flamingos & Gulf of Mexico Pelicans Americanos (part two)

Part one of this story is here.
Flamingo flamingoes celestun Mexico

I realise part one of this story didn’t have a single flamingo or pelican in it. So far I have only covered the quest for the hammocks, and I will return to this shortly. As you are no doubt eager to see flamingos and an American pelican I have served up pictures of some above and below to satisfy your craving.

American pelican celestun Mexico

I, being hungry, now start the day, as I ended the last, in Merida sitting down to a nice Mexican breakfast of yogurt, fruit and honey. Yes I am alone, the people in the chairs are not invisible.

Merida Breakfast Mexico Honey Yogurt

The minibus arrives and we’re heading out of Merida to Celestun, on the Gulf of Mexico. We stop along the way to see a makeshift bull fighting ring, built on a soccer pitch, and some traditional Yucatan houses.

Yucatan bullfighting ring

The minibus driver has no qualms about parking in front of one that has its door open. I see a man laying on a hammock a few feet from the door and a woman with a baby on here hip. The others take photos. I don’t normally take photos in through people’s front doors, so I take a few photos of houses as we make our way through the side streets of the town I don’t know the name of.

Yucatan houseYucatan houseYucatan house

I get to chatting with a German guy, he’s been off to Bolivia and the Galapagos Islands. He’s a teacher with a beard and a better camera than mine. He’s tall of course, not sure they have short Germans. I stole some of his pelican pictures and maybe the one where the flamingos are flying.

I have to take a piss along the way in some swamp, mosquitos swarming around my private parts which were the only bits I didn’t think I’d need insect repellent on. So now we’re there, I really didn’t pay a lot of attention, feeling outright zonked now. It’s much cooler than Merida and I take the chance to by an icy-pole and a monkey. The monkey’s fur is orange and its eye’s glow red and it screeches a monkey sound when you press its hands. I get some flamingo fridge magnets with Celesun scrawled below from the same cluttered store. They came in handy when I came to writing this and I forgot the name of the place so I headed to the fridge to get some thinking food and I saw them flamingos again, and the rest is history.

celestun mexico

We head down the brown waters of the river. The guide announces as the boat slows as it heads past a bend and towards some things pink, “At different times of the year there are often thousands of flamingos here, but most are away breeding at the moment so only a few remain”. He says it to sooth our disappointment at not seeing the huge flocks and to remind us there are no refunds. As we glide in closer I awaken. There’s flamingos in front of me, eating krill to make their feathers pink. Real flamingos, not on TV or in Africa, but here in Mexico.

line of flamingos celestun mexicoflamingo Celestun Mexico
A few months earlier I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Mexican flamingo so the few dozen I see are plenty by me. I feel they they are even prettier because they are few, just as a single woman is lovelier when you see her away from the crowd. I hear the water lapping at the hull of the boat, the engine silenced, as I recall a woman in India I saw in silhouette in a first floor archway above a crowd near New Delhi’s Red Fort, quietly combing her long hair. That was twenty years ago now.

As the motor starts again and we head down the river a few of the flamingos fly away.

flamingos flying celestun mexico

Having paid no attention to what this tour entailed I was surprised when I next found myself driving through a mangrove tunnel. YouTube video aqui

mangrove tunnel celestun mexico celestun mangrove Mexico

This sign explains the significance of mangroves. The fish and crabs like them and they are super-duper productivos.

manglares mangrove sign celestun mexico

I’m further surprised to find myself swimming in the cool waters of a freshwater spring in amongst the manglares.freshwater spring mangrove celestun mexico freshwater spring sign celestun Mexico

As the title of this particular blog suggests. The day was not confined to the majestic flamingo. After swimming in the freshwater spring in the mangroves, we then head to the beach for a fish lunch on the Gulf of Mexico where the American Pelican dives for its food. Or it’s just showing off like the dolphins do in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Here’s a YouTube video of the phenomenon :

American Pelican Diving Gulf of MexicoP1020488

Now back to the hammocks in Merida. I made it back to Merida around 5.30 p.m and head to calle whatever it was. It had been raining and I have to jump huge puddles on the corners of the streets. There’s still a distant rumble of thunder and more rain entertains the idea of falling. The workers are heading home, waiting for the buses, and the stores are closing. I run down a street I know intersects with the one with the hammock shop waiting impatiently at every light, it’s always further than you think. But then I’m there, turning right into the street and I look at the name on the bit of paper the Irish guy gave me yesterday and I look up at the name on the store and it is the same, but when I look down again the guy is locking up.

He must look like an English speaker, as I have no hesitation in blurting out,  “I thought you were open later”.

The shutters are down and the padlock is on, as he removes his key he says, “Sorry, I usually do, but I have to be somewhere. Can you come tomorrow?”

My bottom lip protruding I say, “I have to leave early tomorrow”.

He gives a sympathetic shrug of his shoulders. “Sorry, I have to run. I can do online orders”.

And I’m left alone, in front of the hammock shop, left thinking which direction I could go now, hammock-less. You can’t buy hammocks online, you need to go to a little shop in Merida. I head back to the Mayan restaurant I ate at last night for some corn chips and sopa de lima, barley able to keep my eyes open.

I was still without a hammock.

As a postscript to this story, years later I returned to Mexico with my friend Kurt, visiting Guadalajara around the time of Die de Muertos – the Day of the Dead and bought a hammock in the town of Ajijic, on Lake Chapala, not far from Guadalajara.

Read about my time in Guadalajara here: Guadalajara – Dia de Muertos.