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From Merida Mexico
Day 26 - Wednesday, February 28, 2018. We had to cancel our breakfast so we could get on the bus to Celestun at 8 am. At the bus depot, we met a young French couple also going to Celestun. The young wife couldn’t speak English, but the husband was pretty good at it. It turned out that they were doing the same thing we were doing – bussing and colectivo-ing to all the Yucatan sites. It was fun to exchange travel stories and make recommendations.
Celestun is a sleepy fishing village on the ocean about 50 kilometers from Merida. Its claim-to-fame is the flocks of pink flamingos that gather in the backwaters behind Celestun. There are boat tours that take tourists to see the flamingos, and they usually include a side trip through a mangrove swamp and swimming at a spring. The tours typically are about $500 Pesos each ($26 USD), and I had read many blog threads about them. As expected in these threads, some reviews are positive, and some are negative. I also learned that the beach is beautiful but without any wave action. Celestun is on the lee side of the prevailing winds - the Mayan Riviera was on the windward side of the Yucatan Peninsula and subsequently has bigger surf. Being the last day of our vacation, we burned our extra pesos on a Celestun day trip and boat tour.
Just as I had guessed, the bus stopped at every little town and village en route to Celestun. The town just before Celestun, a gentleman got on board and quickly started up a conversation with us and the young French couple as we were sitting across the aisle from each other. I knew the routine; he was hustling us. It turned out that he was a boat guide and this was his gimmick at reaching the tourists before the other boat guides – ingenious.
The ride on the ocean stretch was a blast. The boat was long, narrow, and fast. Even the little swells in this part of the ocean hammered the boat bringing glee to the passengers. To our luck, the boat guide had to make a side detour up another channel to reach a gas station to fill up. That not only extended our boat ride, but we also got to see another part of the fishing town. Once we reached the big bay, the water turned glassy smooth. Just past the backside of Celestun, where the other tour boats dock, was a beutiful flock of pink flamingos. There weren’t any buoys or channel markers of any kind in the bay. The boat guide must have memorized the channel as much of the big wide bay was shallow enough for the flamingos to stand in. When we reached the biggest flock, the boat crept up to within a few feet of the birds. The flamingos didn’t seem to care, so we stayed long enough for everyone to snap zillions of pictures.
Further up the bay, we entered into a narrow mangrove-lined channel. Halfway through the channel, we came upon a small crocodile. Once on the other side of the mangrove channel, we were dropped off at a clear turquoise pool of spring-fed water. A boardwalk led us into the mangrove swamp to where the clear water gushed out of the ground. The spring formed a nice-sized swimming pool of clear-blue waters before draining into the muddy bay with a swing rope to add fun to the refreshing swim.
The whole trip was at least 10 miles and took four hours. We ended up paying $400 Pesos each ($45 USD). Once back at Celestun, Wanda and I took advantage of the beautiful white sand beach, and swam for nearly an hour. We rated Celestun beach as much better than Progreso withTulum as our all-time favorite. Except for one or two fishers working on their boats, we were the only people in the water.
Los Pameros Restaurant
Along the beach were a half dozen grass-roofed beach restaurants. We chose Los Pameros (not to be confused with Las Palmas in Homun). There were few tourists in Celestun that day, and the few in Celestun seemed to be eating at this place. Using Wanda’s eatery-rating, we sat down and ordered fresh-caught seafood.
We ordered one dish of big-grilled shrimp, rice, and veggies; and an order of grilled fish on a bed of shrimp and blue crab, plus rice and vegetables. Tapas consisted of tortilla chips and salsa. The margaritas were the best, and certainly the most potent either of us has ever had. So, that called for a 2nd round. We were pretty hammered when we left the restaurant. The streets were eerily quiet as we wandered around killing time before our bus departs for Merida. Like Campeche and Izamal, the bus station was clean and well maintained.
After being dropped off at the Oriente Bus Station back in Merida, we made one more trek to Plaza Grande specifically for another fresh paleta from the famous Jugos, Helados Y Paletas Janitzio.
Sadly, we went to bed for the last time in Mexico.
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