Family in Mexico! Chuck and Tasha, Ken's brother and his wife Tasha came for a vacay/visit. First can I just say how amazing it was to have some girl time?! Also, Ken had someone other than me to talk to about Toyota's, campers and boats. Ken got some brother time, I got some girl time, and we all got some family time. Win, win, winning.
Birds. ALL the birds. Tasha, since I know you're reading this.. Remember that one time we went birding at night and I feel asleep standing up? Yeah us too...
Tasha is a professional bird lady back in Alaska. The State of Alaska pays her to play with birds, at least thats what I tell people :) So needless to say there was a good chunk of our time with the other Alaskan DiMarzios spent looking at birds. You definitely see things birding that you otherwise might not. The salt flats for instants.. Rio Lagartos, the northern most tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, one of the few places in the world where flamingos live in the wild. These beautiful and stunning pink salt marshes are where the flamingos get their vibrant pink color from, who knew!? Tasha, thats who. Rio Lagartos, also the town that flooded Chuck and Tasha's tent with rain water and almost blew it in to the river right before bed.
Chuck, Tasha and Ken all went on an early morning boat ride in Rio Lagartos to go birding while I stayed back and made sure all photos and videos were backed up. I was in panic mode during the laptop breakdown, well that and it also meant I got to sleep in. Once they got back, Ken and I went and grabbed some fish for dinner from the fisherman at the docks and met up with the other DiMarzio's at our next camp spot, a birding lodge. It was perfect. Quiet, calm and gave you all the feels. The feels that make you sleep through the night. Not to hot, not too cold. I made a fish fry dinner for all of us, the bird guide and the grounds keeper. It turned out kinda meh, I have never fried a fish whole before and only had olive oil soooooo. Between the weird fish fry dinner, good company and the night birding, it was a really great evening.
The next birding destination, Celestun, a small city on the western bit of coastal Yucatan Peninsula. It was honestly kind of a dirty shit town but we had a stellar flamingo tour there. Camped right on the beach in a super clean campground with one of the strangest campground showers yet. There was no shower head, just a whole in the wall but the water pressure was high enough that it shot straight out and turned out to be quite nice, warm even. The next morning we went to go see the flamingos, by way of tuk tuk. Four adults being towed around in a motorcycle/taxi hybrid, what could go wrong? Nothing. It turned out to be a really great trip. We saw a shit ton of flamingos, climbed around on big mounds of salt, visited an old abandoned town, and were almost killed by a snake. Apparently the older I get, the more terrified of snakes I become. Well its either that or the remanence of a traumatic snake encounter I had while hiking in Colombia. What I refer to as "a near death experience with a boa constrictor". Thankfully we all made it out alive and live to see another day and another centote.
A natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.
Yep, we love them. Any chance we get- cenotes, rivers, mineral springs, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls, you name it we want in it. Unless it's the ocean, then I don't want in it. We visited 2 of the 3 centoes (Samula and Xkeken) in Valladolid, both of which were absolutely stunning. Very few people, clean and extremely refreshing. Our campground in Vallodolid came with our very own personal dry cenote. Sounds tiny when I say personal, but it was pretty big. The dogs had a good time sniffing out all the new smells. I took pictures, Ken was probably scoping out the engineering of the well system and Chuck and Tasha were investigating all the bird nest and eggs they found.
While Chuck and Tasha went and visited some ruins, Ken and I split off and went to IK KIL, another cenote. Huge with a ton of people but we managed to find our own little nook with nobody around. It was the perfect temperature, with little tropical fish swimming all throughout. After a good stint without a shower it felt pretty amazing.
Tall pyramids, temples, ball-game courts and sacrificial sites, yes please. Uxmal, an ancient Mayan city with its largest pyramid sitting at almost 13,000 sq ft. Some ruins are all roped off and you're not allowed to climb them. Some.. are not. These, were not. We got up early enough to get in right as they opened and before the bus loads of people showed up. Not only were there no crowds, but there just weren't any other people at all, well almost... It was a great morning. I got to take photos/video with out random people in my shot, Tasha saw plenty of birds, Ken got to read EVERY SINGLE informational sign, and Chuck got a workout in! Chuck and I did modified box jumps, jumping up the stairs of the pyramid. Perfect morning.
Well, Chuck showed up in Mexico looking like a homeless DiMarzio and while in Vallodolid we went on the hunt for a barber. Thanks to google maps and Tasha's internal compass we found one! 8x10 photos of 1990's models with a variety of haircuts wallpapered the walls with a number next to it, as if this were McDonalds and he was ordering fries and a burger. After contemplating a number 7 with lighting bolts on the side, he ended on a number 15, a nice clean look. We are not so sure he ended up with a number 15 but it was a $2 hair cut so what could he expect. A few days later while driving to the ruins in Uxmal we spotted a barber on the side of the ride in a very small town and he got all fixed up with another $2 haircut and now looks like a proper DiMarzio.
After the Uxmal ruins we made our way to Campeche, where the camping situation was pretty meh. We spent the night in a public parking lot, where using the bathroom is always a challenge and usually turns into a good story and a great laugh. There was an beautiful and massive mural painted on the concrete building that boxed us in, gave it a slightly better vibe. Chuck and Tasha spent the night in a hostel in town just 5 blocks away. This is one of our favorite towns in Mexico, just had a really cool vibe. It is a walled in city, the streets lined with buildings painted with bright colors. There is one main street that is closed off to cars, where all the touristy shops and restaurants live. While Chuck and Tasha got settled in and showered, Ken and I went up on the wall surrounding the city for sunset. It was reminiscent of our time in Cartagena, Colombia a few years back. Only sunset on the wall there included two very strong and not so tasty cocktails.
The next morning we walked outside the wall to have breakfast near the market we had visited the day before, where I stocked up on a ton of delicious veggies. Coffee and tacos for breakfast. It was after breakfast that we said our goodbyes. Chuck and Tasha continued their vacation and finished the Yucatan loop, while Ken and I headed for the chilly city of San Cristobal!