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20 Feb. 2009

Bus departed Mérida at 7:00 a.m.

Reserva de la Biosfera Ría Celestún is a wildlife sanctuary west of Mérida. It is a brackish estuary where much of the water is only knee-deep over sandbars. Mangroves line the shore.

We saw roseate spoonbills, pelicans, egrets, herons, terns, cormorants, coots, storks, and FLAMINGOS on our two-hour boat tour. The horizon line was PINK

Our guide/pilot José told us that 20,000 flamingoes live in Celestún year-round. Flamingos lay only one egg per year.

We backtracked through miles of straight, flat terrain. A small herd of Brahma cattle crossed the road, blocking the highway. Carnivál was setting up in Umán, Yucatán when we stopped for lunch.

Campeche state is home to vast stretches of tangled jungle, Mayan ruins, villages, lagoons, and a colonial-era capitol city. Campeche city was gearing up for Carnival, blocking streets, when we visited.  We ate at Burger King, then wandered around the Zocalo for an hour. We started at Centro Cultura Casa No. 6, a refurbished residence with beautiful furnishings and incredible stained-glass archways. I want to visit this city again.

Elevation climb.  We left the Gulf of Mexico on the Toll Road, passing fields of burning sugarcane. Out from the hills, we approached saltwater again:  the Bay of Campeche. The sun was sinking.

Dinner at El Cachimbazo, Champoton, a seafood restaurant with a palapa roof, the freshest fish, and a killer view of the setting sun.

Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche

After circling town for 45 minutes, Armando hired a taxi to lead us to the new Holiday Inn Express. No lit sign, just a vinyl banner hung across upstairs windows. We checked into our hotel at 9:45 p.m.

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August 2010

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