The ruins of Uxmal and the Celestún park from Mérida


Many things we wanted to do around Merida, and very little time we had to do them. In the vicinity Mérida there are cenotes, colonial cities, ruins and more ruins, farms, beaches and nature reserves. We were planning what to do: my partner wanted ruins and I, anticipating another rucksack similar to that of Egypt, preferred the nature reserve. In the end we reached an agreement and decided to do both by renting a car for a day.

The day before we had gone to three decent agencies that were near the hotel to ask for prices. All had similar prices, but Hertz closed the office at three o'clock in the afternoon and from that time the car had to be returned to another place. For its part, Europcar opened from 8 to 20h and we wanted to leave before that time. So in the end we rented the car at Payless Car Rental because they opened at seven in the morning (!).

After breakfast we went to the agency and there a man who informed us that the one-day rental was worth 420 pesos. "Hey, but if I gave it yesterday for 380!" -I told. And finally he left us for the original 380 pesos. After doing the paperwork, the man told me: "One moment I show you how to start the car. I don't want to fall into the stereotype of Mexican machismo, but I have to Recognize that the phrase made me think badly. But alas! badly thought of me, is that the car had trick and had a most peculiar starting mechanism

1.Open the doors with the remote control.
2. Enter the car and close the doors. Lock the doors with the remote control.
3. Lower the sun visor and dial the combination of four numbers on the remote control. Once this was done, the horn sounded three times if you had done well and twice if you had done it wrong (so you had to repeat the entire operation).
4.Put the key, press the clutch thoroughly (they don't call it clutch), and with the clutch tight, start the car. If you skipped one of those steps, the car did not start, so you had to repeat the entire operation again.

With the car running, we set out to face Mexican traffic. We discovered that it was quite chaotic, but a hundred times better than in Egypt. In Mexico they still do not have a GPS system, so we are oriented with the map they gave us at the agency. When leaving the historic center, I understood why it is not advisable to drive at night in those parts, and it is that many cars are so dusty that they have no taillights (!).

First we decided to visit the ruins of Uxmal, which are in the so-called Puuc route, which includes the Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, X-Lapak, Labná and Loltún caves. We choose to visit only the first, which are the most spectacular.

It took us an hour and a half to get to Uxmal from Merida and when we reached the parking lot there were almost no cars. The entrance cost 116 pesos per person and the guides, as in Chichen Itza, 500 pesos. So we decided to make the visit on our own because it was not a plan to spend 30 euros on all the visits to ruins we made. Upon entering, the first thing you find is the most impressive building: «The fortune teller's house».

This temple is 39 meters high and has an oval base, which gives it a rather curious shape. This is where the light and sound show is done, which we do not attend. Then we visited the «Convent of the nuns», the field of ball game and the great pyramid, which is at the southern end of the site. The great pyramid is 32 meters high and can be climbed to the top. Although the complicated thing is not to go up, but to go down. Back at the entrance, we visited the «Governor's palace», which has a very elaborate facade and a length of 100 meters.

After the visit, we returned to the car to get in the direction of Celestun and, after taking all the necessary steps, it did not start. We got back out of the car and repeated the operation several times, but given the impossibility of starting it, we called the rental company and the clerk told me:

- Have you already pressed the clutch?

Well, I honestly didn't remember if I had done it or not, so, praying to myself, I turned to the car to see if it had been just what I had forgotten and, indeed, it was like that and I could start the car (Fiu…!).

Celestun not that it is passing precisely on the path of Uxmal to Merida, but it was worth the detour, although it took us about two hours to get there. Celestún is a biosphere reserve, which thanks to its privileged location, is the ideal habitat for many birds and fish. The highlight is to go see the flamingos that from March to September they are in the area feeding on prawn larvae. Right at the entrance of the town, after passing the bridge, you can hire excursions to see the flamingos for an hour for 700 pesos. That's where all the guided tours go and tours tourist We, as we were hungry because it was already two o'clock, decided to go first to town to eat and then return to do the excursion.

The town of Celestún has a beach that, in my opinion, is much better than any of the Riviera Maya. While we parked, a man approached us to try to sell us the excursion to see the flamingos, which can also be hired on the beach. The difference between doing it on the previous site and on the beach, is that the price is more adjusted. The man told us that by boat (about 8 people) he earned 1,200 pesos (€ 72) but that since there were only two of us, if he didn't get anyone else he would leave us for 700 pesos (€ 42), and while we ate he would go to the hunt for more customers so that the price at the end was tighter. All this conversation took place under the tent of one of the restaurants on the beach and the truth is that although it was not touristy, we were offered all kinds of facilities. The restaurant owner told us that at the end of the tour we could go back there and take a shower in the restaurant. The truth is that it was appreciated, because that night we were going to spend it in a night bus and theirs was to be at least a bit neat.

We ordered the food and, while they prepared it, we took our first bath of the year, nothing more and nothing less than in the Caribbean Sea. In fact, that was the only pleasant bath we had on a beach throughout the trip. The sea was calm, the breeze was barely blowing and the beach was almost deserted by bathers. While we ate two fish ceviches, we saw how the lord of the boats was looking for customers, although he had no success because first, people usually hire them in the other place and second, excursions are usually done more in the morning than at three p.m. In the restaurant we met a group of Spaniards who were on vacation in the area and who worked as archaeologists in the ruins of Calakmul, that we weren't going to visit. They recommended us to go see them on our next trip because soon they were going to make new discoveries they were working on. They were going to do the flamingos excursion by kayak for 100 pesos each, but since they stayed to sleep there, they had more time.