This-Fab-Trek turns 7.
We arrive early afternoon and the skies open for a massive thunder storm, 1000s of poor unknowing tourists, carted in on busses from Cancun, cram inside the visitor center, almost kill each other as lightening strikes right above. I cower with my back against a concrete column on the floor, my little boys Daniel and David on my two legs, watch the strange folk push like lemmings into the gusts; we wait and contemplate immediate retreat.
Little town Pisté is near, soon later dry, the junta office is happy to provide me with their wifi code, later we go for a walk, the boys started talking to each other so much recently, in German. Later, after dark they run around the main place and hunt hand sized moths, I watch content, drink beer, celebrate as my little project This-Fab-Trek has turned 7 today.
So what is it that I wish, just 7 more years and the same amount of luck and blessing? I still have so many plans; am just a little bit calmer about where to go and when and how? The world just will always remain a damn big unexplored place...
Chichen Itza and early bright morning we are back, I am the first car to enter before any of the busses, the space in front of the Temple of Kukulkan or Feathered Serpent or El Castillo as it is called is completely empty and peaceful, I am really happy now.
Chichen Itza was a major economic and political power from 600 to 1000 A.D. Chichen is a mix of many of Maya and (Central Mexican) Toltec styles (read wiki); who influenced whom? so much of pre-Columbian history is still being debated.
But Chichen Itza is more, a lot more, some plazas have thousands of columns, send greetings to Athens and Rome, there is a Great Ball Court, not just the little one (just closed when we are here). Also El Castillo is more, has another temple buried underneath, but since a Japanese tourist fell to her death climbing the Great Pyramid is a thing of the past, that's better.
Chichen had fallen as early as 1000 A.D. though nothing is established with any certainty to the why. The site was also never completely abandoned and I wonder what must it have been like to live 'primitively' within a thousand columns, in between gigantic monuments, by 1588 after the Spanish conquest it had become a cattle ranch.
Late in the morning a steamy heat drowns our enthusiasm, the twins who only had a banana this morning demand ice cream and I wouldn't mind some liquid, preferably beer; we completely forgot to bring water. From the entrance a steady stream of tourist, or really by the bus loads spills in, soon they have gone to the farthest corners of the site, everywhere the Indio vendors now have rigged up their stands selling Maya busts, calendars and amulets; the peace is gone and I release my brave boys. I've now been to Chichen Itza... Ticked. Just why did my D700 stop working? The light meter is running completely crazy.
We get a beer and ice cream in Piste, it is a lot cheaper away from the site and drive off a bit frustrated about the camera, not far is Villadolid and we arrive in time for lunch just about when the big pouring starts again. The D700 I manage to reset in Tizimin. So happy again.
Rio Lagartos, we come un-knowing, un-expecting, late.
Yes - to Rio Lagartos we come late and totally un-expecting, un-knowing of our luck. I park right on the wharf by the river, the lagoon and boats glitter in sunset, the boys run around on the pier and climb into boats. Soon a parrot fascinates, they never had a parrot sitting on their shoulders and these nice people here are family people, the boys follow them in their house. Later while I still figure out what to make of the place, cowboys and horses parade, the place buzzes a bit, but we are still on the bay promenade. People inquire about my boys, a cowboy lets each, Daniel and David, join for a short ride.
Then I push with the twins beyond the horses and trailers into the town's center. A small luna park surrounds the square in front of the church, folkloric dances are being performed while crackers and fireworks go off, maybe following a beauty contest earlier, what do I know. My boys disappear through the crowd, join other kids running about the ground. I don't see them for a while. No need to worry here; I feel absolutely safe. And there they come back out from nowhere and I lure them away to the carrousel, then buy them French fries with lots of catsup (is how it's spelt here). And then there is a huge trampoline other kids inside, my wild rackers want and get almost an hour, next to it a blurring ranchera combo plays, some bizarre table dance enthuses an all male crowd, beer is sold cheaply. That's cool I can watch the boys while having a few drinks.
It has gotten late, I convince my sweaty sons to move on for some Fanta. Back on the pier, a dirty bar, amazingly nice people, it is a huge family fiesta here, Fanta for my boys and beer for me. They spill their Fanta and I can see they're tired, that's great! We were never before out together, all night. I enjoyed it so much and think they did.
But there is still so much more to come, here in Rio Lagartos.
So the camera works again, am so happy, after morning eggs and milk we leave Rio Lagartos for Colorada Beach. I stop to buy water, tell the boys to stay in the back, of course they don't, instead climb to the front and play with the mirrors, they figured lately how to manipulate the switches that move the outdoor mirrors.
While I drive off and try re-adjusting the mirrors I forget that I parked extremely close-up to a pole on the right. While on top of all a big bus closes in in my back I crash the two flapped out side windows on the right. That's a great start in the morning I think, so much glass is just about everywhere. Just how do I convey to my disobedient boys that it is actually their fault? Better not at all, just fume and clean the dangerous mess.
Colorada Beach then shows extremely deep blue colors. The beach is white and almost empty, the windows aren't there anymore, a gapping hole, open for anybody, but I don't fear much will happen here.
We return to Rio Lagartos late in the afternoon, on leaving the beach the boys have gone straight to deep sleep. I let them sleep another two hours, just open all windows for additional air, then sit in the cafe opposite. It's the old parking spot on the pier and I work my computer, a beer and some ceviche snack. The monsters wake late, sweating, demand food and drinks. I wonder what tonight will bring as we set out, headed for the town's center.
Rio Lagartos fiesta.
Horses, riders, cowboys, amidst a buzzing, huddling crowd of women and children, drunken men, all quiet, friendly, lively, smiling, embracing. There is a rodeo, an arena which I didn't realize the night before, all made out of wooden poles, I pay the dues, we go into the sticky dusty space under the tribunes, where the combo of brass and drums plays. There are actually two orchestras, one on each side and they take turns. What we are getting into becomes clear now, a bullfighting arena, hundreds, almost all, have come and the bullfights are about to start, my two boys are just about everywhere, the beasts are being let out in the ring right beside us, stabbed in their necks prior, must be what makes them wild!
This is obviously maltrato, cruelty to animals and all the same when the bull isn't killed, 'only' harmed and repeatedly stabbed. The crowd here doesn't care, screams and yells, the bulls' pain? Who gives a damn flyin g f@ck? We observe and too stay till the end.
Dusk has fallen completely when we quit, outside we stumble onto a procession with a cross and women with flowered and feathered heads dancing in white dresses. Somewhere later we purchase some fries, then I let them jump the trampoline while I get a second chance to watch the obscure table dancing and ranchera combo while downing a few cheap beers. This is a real feria mexicana, I smile inside. It is midnight or beyond when we're back to the van, the gapping holes of windows haven't lured anybody to take any of our stuff. Mexico is a safe country I want to believe. I explain the boys what tomorrow will be, that we'd get up early for a boat ride to see the great birds. I have prepared them before. We all fall asleep immediately while disco and techno hammers on near-by, all night long.
Flamigos on Rio Lagartos, early morning boat trip.
I get up when dawn is well underway. Cold outside and inside and I am a still dizzy, afraid to be late I search my phone and glasses to read off the time; still 10 minutes till 6. I wake the boys: "You want to go on a boat and see the big birds?" My superstars crawl out without another word, without complaint they put their clothes and shoes on. I grab a bottle of water, my computer and camera bag and we leave the van and its gapping holes.
Qué hora es? "Seis con seis", tells me our boat man. The boys yawn, take a long drag at the chilly morning air as we glide over the lagoon waters into sunrise. We follow the river at the edges close by the mangroves, look out for crocs, flamingos and all the other bird life. Soon sun rises and flocks of bids fly towards us in v-shaped formations, soon also flamingos, hundreds.
We travel east and our guide knows his terrain. He explains a lot, my Spanish though just doesn't even get the basics, I am happy to just come close to these world famous flamingo feeding grounds and so are the boys, I suppose, as they approve with 'ohs' and 'ahs' their fascination. At our destination, we stop the engine, silently drift ever closer to a group of tall fragile looking pink, orange and reddish birds; it is the carotin diet of crustaceans, mainly shrimp, and algae, which is filtered out from the mud, their beak is a specialized tool. Males have stronger colors explains our man. We keep a silence otherwise but eventually what has to happen happens; one after the other take off.
We watch for more than an hour until tiredness takes over my boys, by 9 we are on our way back when so many other boats with tourists head out. Now that sun stands high and already and the heat starts banging down the colors are gone.
We are back for a huge breakfast of eggs, milk and coffee. The car with no windows has been left untouched, - again in 'dangerous' Mexico; just about what I expected.