Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mexico Log, Part 7

Friday, 1/5/07

We awoke PAINFULLY early to go to the Sian Ka'an biological preserve. This is a huge (1.5 million sq. mi.) area south of Tulum that is a system of lagoons, canals, jungle and cenotes. We met our guide, Luis, at the office around 7:30am, packed 14 into a Ford van, and headed out. The road to S-K is the bumpiest (is that a word?) in the universe: I thought the jostling & bouncing might cause Tess to spontaneously give birth. We finally arrived and met our OTHER guide, Vanessa, who missed the ride there due to a hangover-missed alarm. Awesome.

The rest of our tour group was a comical lot (I wonder what they all said about the 6 of US??). There was an attractive Spanish couple who spoke little English and were probably a bit perplexed about taking a tour in Mexico only to have it not conducted in Spanish; a couple about my age (the fit father had both his nipples pierced...and if you don't think THAT looked foolish!) who never really spoke to each other, instead doting endlessly on their son, who seemed to take every advantage of this; and, finally, a larger family from Colorado who were ALL characters. The husband was a dorky Woody Allen lookalike who constantly had to point out how smart he was and challenge Luis' every statement; the wife was rather catty, remarking how practical she thought Sue's Keens were, following this by saying she herself opted to wear "fashionable shoes"; and, two rather obnoxious 20-something daughters, one of whom had a wisely silent ex-frat-boy husband. Hilarity ensued.

The main part of the day was given over to a long boat trip across the first large lagoon and up a canal to a 2nd, all-freshwater lagoon. Six of us fit onto a boat, with our captain & guide, Cosime. His English was a little harder to understand, but he pointed out many birds (ibis, egrets, flown-south American storks, brown pelicans, and on & on). There was a lot to take in about the various types of mangroves, and as we traveled up the canal from salty water to freshwater, the mangrove strands disappeared and gave way to the Yucatan "savannah": endless sawgrass waving in the breeze, as far as the eye could see.

After scooting around the 2nd lagoon we turned back & had a snack, then floated down the river sitting on life jackets. This is a nice way to use such a flotation device: instead of putting your arms through the holes, put one of the front "panels" under your butt, and sit back against the jacket back, allowing your head to rest on the other front panel. Very comfy. We eventually got back into the boats & shot down the rest of the canal, crossing our first lagoon and entering yet ANOTHER one, this time just off the Carribean Sea. LOTS of trash was washed up onto the shores at this area; currents bring in garbage from literally all over the earth. Water bottles from Korea, beer cans from Australia, various junk from Russia...I'm sure stuff ends up being dumped off of cruise ships as well. We zoomed back to the biological center for a lunch that included a delicious juice mixture of pineapple, orange juice and "Mayan spinach." Despite the nuclear green color, it was quite tasty. We had about an hour after lunch to play in the ocean: boogie boards were available, and Joel, Amanda & I had a great time in the unusually large waves. But, it was exhausting as well, as we had to really fight to get out to where the waves were breaking, and I got tons of salt water in my eyes & lungs.

Our trip ended with an even MORE bumpy ride back up the Road From Hell to a cenote swimming opportunity. All 6 of us were pooped (it was about 3:30-4:00pm at this point) and sunburned, so after walking back to the tiny dock we went back and chatted with Vanessa & Luis before finally riding back to the office for our car. Which almost felt embarrassing large after the sardine-can Econoline. Luis & I talked quite a bit on the ride: he's VERY proud of his Mayan heritage, and has made me interested in reading more about this ancient and still-thriving culture.

We made a VERY quick trip back to Tulum to spend up pesos by buying more of the delightful handmade stuffed animals we all went so crazy for...

then stopped at La Lunita to make dinner reservations. We made a quick shower/clothes change stop at La Sirena, then had a lovely last dinner at the only place we ate at twice. We went back to the condo to pack & drink (Sue was humorously drunk: Amanda & Tess finally cut her off by physically replacing her wine glass with water), watch leaf-cutter ants, and smoke cigars (Joel stuck with his Cohiba, while I tried a Monte Cristo).

We relived the trip a little, comparing it to ther places we've been (my closest: Fresno) and places we'd like to go. It was a wonderful last night in paradise. Tomorrow: homeward bound!


Blogger Tess said...

Due to the bumpy roads, I did not spontaneously give birth, as Scott suggested. Rather, I received a nasty headache that became my travel "buddy" for the rest of the day. Thus, no swimming for me.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

God, this all sounds like such a blast. Lucky you guys.

(I'm so glad you didn't go to Oaxaca.)

9:42 AM  

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