This was a great place!

Trip Start Dec 20, 2009
Trip End Mar 27, 2010

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Flag of Mexico  , Quintana Roo,
Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sian Ka'an bio-reserve is a very large area between the Mayan Riviera and the Costa Maya. It includes an isthmus (of course you all know what that is but I had to look it up so I’ll share it with you … it’s a very narrow strip of land, bordered on both sides by water, connecting two larger bodies of land – essentially a narrow land bridge)  The governing body of the area’s environmental projects is CESiaK (Centro Ecologico de Sian Ka’an.)  They offer tours as well as modest tent-cabin accommodations without washrooms – there are washrooms, they’re just not IN the tents.  Upon check-in, I inquired as to where we should meet for our (prepaid) "Sunset Tour".  I was informed that it was done for the day (it was 3pm).  We were booked on the “All-day Tour” the next day and didn’t want to have to do our Sunset Tour immediately after.  But as luck would have it, the Sunset Tour was running late and they were just departing.  So without any time to decide what we wanted to bring on this boat tour, we set off walking through the jungle with some other gringos and our leader, Antonio.  It turns out this was a Birdwatching tour.  I don’t think I would have intentionally booked three kids on a birdwatching tour but it all worked out very well.  The group was put into two boats and being that we are 5 people, the Klimchuk-Browns  got one boat and the rest of them got the other, except the tour guide who got on our boat so we pretty much got him to ourselves.  I’ve mentioned (more than once) that Adam is not very keen on 'being quiet’ which is an essential part of birdwatching.  But it turns out that a stern warning does sometimes work AND it also turns out that Adam is quite interested in birds (well, any animals really) as is Jeff who had been observing all these birds without knowing their names.

Despite not having time to decide what to bring, I had my pack which fortunately had the green shampoo.  I realize that I have not mentioned the green shampoo yet… a huge oversight.  While we were in Jalcomulco (if you’ve been studying, you’ll remember that that is where I almost went insane with itching) we learned about the power of green shampoo.  And let me assure you this is no snake oil.  It works.  Bugs hate it.  It’s the cheapest kind of value-brand shampoo and you rub it in like lotion (not too much or you’ll be rubbing for a while).  The only size we could find in the supermarket was 1L. so that’s what comes out whenever we’re outside.  And would you believe that not ONE person has ever questioned why we’re smearing cheap green shampoo from a huge 1L bottle on ourselves.  Anyway, like I said, it works and I was ever so glad to have it for the walk through the jungle to/from the boats.

The following morning I was awakened by Jeff insisting I come out and see the sunrise.  Wow.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Maybe that’s because I’m seldom up in time but regardless.  Being up at dawn, we had some time before our All-day Tour (which was looking more and more like the same as the Sunset Tour but at a different time of day.)  While we sipped coffee on the terrace of the main building, we got to see a sea turtle playing in the surf!  We named him Ray because at first I thought he was a ray. The water here is that Caribbean turquoise and the sand is white so he was easy to spot.

The 4-hour All-day tour is in fact on the very same boats at the Sunset Tour and does cover some of the same stuff.  So we got to look like real know-it-alls.  The highlight of this tour is boating through the ‘canal’ which is a natural (?) pathway through the mangroves from the lagoon 16 kms all the way to the lake.  This route has evidence of being used by the Mayans as a trade route that was likely a cuota (toll).  Near where the water starts to flow from the lake to the ocean, there is a gentle current.  We all put on lifejackets and floated down the river.  But it was overcast and slightly cool and the water was downright cold, so we only floated for a short while, shivering the whole way.  The source of the lake is a cenote, which is an underground river.  There are an estimated 5000 of these in the Yucatan peninsula, all connected in some way or another.

On our return boat ride, we saw a crocodile, but we scared him into the water so the other boat didn’t get to see him.  Keara would have rather been in the other boat.

That evening, the kids played in the surf and I was in awe of how much fun they were having.  Keara would get knocked down rather violently then rebound back up giving us a thumbs-up sign with a smile that you could have seen from space… right after she made sure she was still wearing her bikini bottoms.  All the while there was an adolescent pelican dive bombing the surf not 15 meters from her.  (NOTE: we knew he was an adolescent from his brown head… it was a very educational tour.)  When he finally caught something, we applauded.
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