The first stop of our family tour of Yucatan is the small village of Rio Lagartos, in the north of the peninsula. The mangrove tour allows us to observe hundreds of sea birds, a few flamingos and crocodiles, and finish with a Mayan bath.
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023
Today is a big day. It's the day my mom arrives to spend the next 12 days with us! 🥳 Rémi and I head to Cancun airport with the rental car we just picked up from a private owner. It's already having some difficulty starting, we hope it holds up! At 8 pm, here comes my mom! I'm so happy to see her that I don't even notice who's with her... Lucas, my brother, whom I haven't seen in over 3 years! What a great surprise!! So, we will be 4 for this great tour of the Yucatan! 😃 Let's go! Well, for tonight, we're not going far: we're spending the night in an AirB&B in Cancun, waiting to start some great adventures tomorrow...
Thursday, March 23rd
Our first stop is the small fishing port of El Cuyo, in the north of the peninsula. The beach is paradise: white sand, coconut trees, fishing birds, and warm water in which we don't hesitate to dive for a refreshing swim. The Mexican birds have a sense of hospitality: as soon as we arrived in Mexican territory, mom gets pooped on by an unfriendly cormorant 🤣🤣🤣 Oh well, there goes her clean shirt that was supposed to last her a week! Everyone is laughing.
We then head towards Rio Lagartos, another fishing port, larger, more touristy, and more populated than El Cuyo. However, the place is still very peaceful. From the room, we have a view of the lagoon. We go for a walk on the port. The day is coming to an end and the sunset over the water is splendid. We even come across a crocodile lounging between two boats!
As we stroll around the port looking for a place to eat, we're approached by Boni. After a quick chat, we're convinced to follow him. He opens the doors of his home, or rather his courtyard. Three plastic tables in the middle of a covered courtyard, simple decor, a string of lights, and a pile of rubble in the corner. It's simple, it's raw, it's perfect! Boni and his wife Irma cook completely homemade dishes. And it's delicious! The ceviches de pescado are a delight and the grilled fish is excellent. The "un poquito piquante" sauce burns our mouths! 🥵 We have a great evening with Boni, who speaks a little French and teaches us some Mayan words. A wonderful encounter when we least expect it. In short, the magic of travel strikes again!
Friday, March 24th
This morning, we set off on a boat to explore the mangrove and the lagoon. Our guide's name is José, aka La Mulita. At 7 am, the boat speeds off into the lagoon, and we have our eyes wide open, ready to scan the surroundings to spot the animals that live here.
And we are in for a treat! Pelicans, cormorants, frigates, flamingos, parrots, herons, seagulls, falcons: we see hundreds of birds, each one more beautiful than the last. We especially love the pelicans and their long beaks, which seem to fix us with their doe-like eyes. In high season, there are thousands of flamingos, but today they are just a small group fishing in the rosy waters of the lagoon. The disappointment is not very great, as we have plenty of them back home in Narbonne, although they are of a less flamboyant pink.
In addition to the birds, we also spotted two crocodiles. Well, José spotted them! He has a sharper eye than us, because we wouldn't have been able to see them among the trees in the mangrove. José lured them with a fish, which allowed us to see them up close. We even had the opportunity to pet a big 4-meter-long specimen!
It's then time for the Maya bath! We get off the boat and sink several centimeters into the very soft ground. It ends in a disaster for Mom who steps into the only hole around and sinks into the mud up to her hip. She can't get out! Fortunately, Lucas volunteers to help her, not without teasing her endlessly. José finds the perfect spot and extracts a white and creamy mud from the ground. We happily apply it to ourselves. And of course, Lucas attacks everyone with "mud balls"! During the return trip, the mud hardens and pulls on the skin. And at the rinsing moment, the skin is all soft! We feel fresh and clean... at least until we dry off! Then, the skin turns white again 😂
Translation: We leave Rio Lagartos after taking a real shower at the hotel. We head directly towards our very first cenote. Cenotes are natural freshwater sinkholes. There are more than 10,000 of them on the Yucatán peninsula alone! Most are open to the public for swimming, diving, snorkeling, and having fun. It's hard to choose a cenote among all those that exist in the area. For our first one, we choose the X-Canché cenote. It's beautiful! The walls are 15 meters high and at the bottom is a hole of over 30 meters deep. It's impossible to see the bottom, but it's perfect for jumping from the walkways!
To our great surprise, the water is rather good. We take turns jumping in from a 2-meter diving board. Everyone? No, because Mom is resisting! She has good intentions, but when it comes time to jump, all her resolutions disappear and she clings to the nearest tree, screaming in terror (I'm only exaggerating slightly). Lucas, camera in hand, becomes impatient. "Get out of your comfort zone," "You're in Mexico, give it your all!" "Come on, jump instead of watching Koh Lanta (Survivor) from your couch!" he says, increasingly exasperated 😂. Come on, she's going to do it now, you can feel it, she's about to jump. Oh no. Several attempts like this go on for 10 minutes. You may be wondering if Mom eventually overcame her fear and jumped? Well, no one will ever know, because Lucas ended up pushing her when she wasn't looking. The traitor! "I lost patience," he concludes as Mom emerges from the water, half coughing, half laughing to death.
Each to their own style! Refreshed, we leave the cenote and hit the road to our first colonial town, Valladolid!