Last Monday Frank and I took the third and final excursion outside of Mérida with our driver David. We went to Celestún, a small fishing town on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Next to the town there is an inlet which is a breeding ground for pink flamingos. The last several times that I have been there, I have seen thousands of flamingos, and it is an amazing sight.
The weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot. We left the house bright and early at 8:00 A.M., and drove for about an hour and a half. We finally arrived at the dock where boatmen take visitors on a tour of the inlet.
Unfortunately, instead of seeing thousands of flamingos, there were perhaps around one hundred feeding in the inlet. We were told that because of heavy rains this year, the water level was high. The flamingos need shallow water in which to feed.
Fine, there is nothing one can do about the whims of Mother Nature. But what upset me was the behavior of our boatman.
The cost for an hour and a half tour is supposed to be 1200 pesos. There were two German visitors who were waiting for some more tourists so that they could split the cost. We joined up with them. But instead of paying our fee at the ticket window, we were hurried to the boat where we were to pay the boatman directly. Once on board we were told that the price for combined groups was 1500 pesos. Whether that is true or not, the way it was handled just seemed suspicious.
On previous visits the boatmen never seemed to be watching the clock. They took their time, and went slowly so that we could see things like crocodiles sitting on the shore. Often the tour was closer to two hours long. This boatman, however, was in a big rush. We were back at the dock in about an hour. Needless to say, he did not receive a tip from any of us.
The experience left such a bad taste in my mouth, that I was seriously thinking that I should cross off Celestún if I should take other friends to Yucatán in the future. But when I remember how spectacular it can be, I guess that I will hope for better luck and a better boatman.