In the spirit of our journey out to Lagos de Montebello, we decided that we were going to do to small trips to a handful of small towns on the northern coast of the Yucatan, instead of the traditional day trips to these locations out of big city hubs. The first of these visits was out to a small town just north of Merida called Progreso. As we learned from a cab driver, this is the city that is closest to the meteorite that struck the Earth 65 million years ago leading to the demise of the dinosaurs. Boom, splat, and in a minute, the world was flipped on its head. The result was the creation of some of the most unique areas on Earth which are home to an extremely biodiverse set of species and unique landscapes.
Walking along the main promenade at Progreso, we got the sense of the beating heart of this town, cruise ship traffic. The pier of Progreso extends out into the Gulf of Mexico a full five miles, giving it more the appearance of a bridge than that of a pier.
Unfortunately, this also brought a different kind of tourist, and what we also noted, a different kind of atmosphere to the workers in the service industry. I want to start with that we are by no means perfect, and I am sure there have been plenty of folks over our 8-9 months of travel that have looked at us and cringed at our inability to communicate and fit into situations. Throughout all, we have tried to stay humble, and realize that all our needs aren’t always going to be catered to, and that that is okay.
As the hordes of cruise goers come off the boat, they fill the town with business, like a tide of water sweeping through the town with activity and currency that powers the local economy, but there is a cost. Prices are inflated and some of the culture that is specific to the area gets watered down and doesn’t feel as authentic. Now, the benefits of many people speaking English was nice, and if one avoids the major touristy areas, one can absorb some of the local beauty that made the location a draw in the first place.
One of the most exciting parts of this area of the Yucatan, as mentioned, is the diverse wildlife, including pink flamingos in their natural environment. We were excited for a chance to get a photo of these majestic creatures in the wild. Almost like dinosaurs, these birds walk like a velociraptor, balance like a yogi master while sleeping, and then when they take flight look like a long necked awkward teenager. Truly a mix of beauty and mother nature’s assured sense of humor.
With no car, and no colectivos out to some of the natural areas outside of Progreso, we decided to try and find a tour in town. We talked to a couple different tour stands that pepper the Malecon on a non-cruise ship day, and settled on the cheapest option that was essentially a taxi tour for Mandy and me. Our first stop was the salt flats which promised unreal pink color and boy, did they deliver.
The pink color was rich, and juxtaposed against the blue of the inlets on the opposite side of the minute sand bars that striped the salt flats, creating a jarringly beautiful image. I had always assumed some sort of filters were used to create images like this, but as we walked amongst this unique landscape, we simply enjoyed the beauty.
We piled back in our taxi and headed out to one of these inlets where we saw the flamingos for the first time. Slowly we made our way out on the spongy strips of sand that extended out towards the flamingos. We tried to capture their beauty but unfortunately, with our puny IPhone lenses, we were not able to do them justice. One of the many times on this trip we wished we had a camera more capable then an IPhone or GoPro.
Nonetheless, it was fun to see these creatures in their natural habitat and come away with some pink salt from the flats. The little time we spent in Progreso was nice respite from the larger city centers, and gave us our first peek at the Gulf of Mexico, another body of water we can say we have soaked our bones in.