Angel, my driver in Merida, was intuitive about what I was enjoying. I got very animated about nature ‘naturalis’ and he suggested that we go to Celestun the day after visiting Mayapan and Dzibiltchaltun archeological sites. Celestun is famous for its large flocks of pink flamingos that live on what is now a nature reserve. It is a small beach town situated on an isthmus in the Gulf of Mexico, right around the corner from the Caribbean. The night before I excitedly googled the area and was concerned about the small boats that take you out to see the flamingos (fear of water in small boats). Additionally, some of the articles mentioned that the influx of tourists was affecting where the flamingos nested. They keep moving further away from humans. I knew the beach would be magnificent but noted that there was a small Nature Park, Jaltun Parque Recreativo, just before the town.
Angel looked at me quizzically, as he had never gone there before, but followed his GPS and we arrived at a scrubby bit of jungle. I looked at it uncertainly not knowing that this was going to be the cherry on the cake in Mexico. No one spoke English but the gentleman who guided me had his wildlife book in both Spanish and English. We excitedly chatted and I discovered that he was an Ortega – my cousin! It takes me a while to get my eye in, when hunting for critters, but my guide was an expert. He could identify every bird song, every tree and all the critters. It’s amazing how you don’t really need a common language when you are in tune with nature. I perfectly understood that he was telling me about the wonders of nature – one tree, very close to another, was very toxic but the other provided the antidote. Most of the animals were in the jungle but there were a few in small caged areas.
One of them was the Yucatan spiny tailed iguana. I asked Senor Ortega if I could hold it and he explained,with concern, that they were very fast and I would have to hold it firmly behind the neck. As an expert lizard catcher, I eagerly held out my hands. It was a chilly winter morning in Celestun and the poor wee thing was cold. I snuggled it into my sweater for warmth, delighting in the opportunity to be up close to an indigenous critter.
My guide was delighted at my derring-do and we walked into the jungle where he heard a carpenter woodpecker. We tracked it down and he was more excited than me! I knew my camera wasn’t up to a good shot because the woodpecker wouldn’t stop tapping but patiently waited for my guide to get just the right shot! He was terribly impressed by my ability to track quietly and see birds. Ah, that native DNA comes in handy at times…
This is a shot of a Morelet Crocadillo just gently basking in the stream. I have seen many alligators and crocodiles but that might have been my only opportunity to see this particular crocodile that is found only in Central America. Just call me Crocodile Kerry…
A special treat was to pop my head inside the boa’s enclosure and take a shot while they were both hissing at me. When I got back to the car, tired and happy, Angel looked horrified at my shots of serpientes and shuddered! Off we drove, along the road into Celestun. It struck me afterwards that I had been cuddling all sorts of critters and it didn’t even cross my mind to wash my hands. This might be why I got a parasite in Egypt.
More shots to follow of the Yucatan jungle