Thursday, January 31, 2013

Birds between Mahahual & Xcalak

We fell asleep so early last night that we woke up before the sun rose this morning.

The cruise ships come into Costa Maya a couple of times a week.   We didn't want to be hanging around when all the tourists came to Mahahual, so we decided to take a drive down to Xcalak.   Xcalak seems to be the furthest south you can drive on the east coast of Mexico.    

We hit the road around 8:00 a.m., which was still early enough to see a couple of fox and quite a few birds.  

We had no idea what this beautiful creature was.   It looks like a cross between a turkey and a peacock.  I googled:  "cross between a turkey and a peacock" and found it right away.  It is the Oscellated Turkey.  The Mayans call it ucutz il chica.    It resides only in a 50,000 square mile area in the Yucatan Peninsula Range.   We saw two of them and are indeed fortunate to have seen any at all because it is considered an almost threatened species.   

It's going to take a while for me to identify this bird of prey.

Xcalak is a sleepy little fishing town an hour away from anything else.   Most houses are made from wood, and owned by Mexican.  Most of the ones with ocean front are not owned by Mexicans and most of them are for sale.   We ran into the woman who owns this house.   She wants 350,000 U.S. for it.   I think she is dreaming.    She also told us that a lot goes for 100,000 U.S., but when we stopped at the Real Estate office, the lots were 65,000  U.S.    

This house, presumably taken out by hurricane Dean is next door to the one above.   I wonder how long it has been for sale?

An odd looking seagull.   I haven't found it on the internet yet.

This fellow had a fish in his sights.

And he caught it!

We ran into a couple who were camped next to us in Bacalar for a night.   I didn't get their names, but their van is named Maggie...or something that starts with an M.  lol    They said they were going to have a peek at our blog, so perhaps they will weigh in here and let us know.   They found this empty lot for sale, and thought it would be a great place to boondock for the night.   Great idea! 

This is another bird of prey that I still have to identify, it appears to be some type of hawk to me.   

This beauty looked like an owl before I saw it through the telephoto lens.   

If anyone can identify these birds for me, please feel free.   I can see why so many people get into birding.   It could get addictive.       

Another bird of prey.   I love the markings on his chest. 

We saw a lot of these in huge flocks.   They were hard to capture on film because they flit around like crazy. I think they are parakeets.   Please correct me if I am wrong.

  We saw a lot of Plain Chacalaca.   

The best part about Xcalak was the drive there.   By the time we came back it was around 10:00 a.m., and there weren't near as many birds and no other wild life on the road.   

Of course our eyes are peeled for jaguar.   What are the chances we will get another experience like that, and actually be ready with the camera? 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Myrtle broke down

We left Balacar today to head to Majahual.    We drove to the other side of the campground to fill up with water before we left.   Myrtle wouldn't start again.    It was serendipitous because we were going to stay there until the day we have to head back up the coast to pick our granddaughter Maddy up from the airport.    It would have be much much more inconvenient with a deadline hanging over our heads.

We weren't at all stressed about it.  We really couldn't have found a prettier place to be stuck.

Javier and Victor 

We drove Albert into town to find a mechanic.   After several hilarious attempts to communicate with our poor Spanish skills, we managed to find a mechanic who would come to the campgrounds and have a look.  

At first we all thought it was the fuel pump, but the problem was a simple one.   There was sediment in the gas line, causing a blockage.    He cleaned the gas line for us, and told us to keep it above half full at all times until we can pull the gas tank off and have it cleaned out.

His charge?  200 pesos.   That is less than $20.00.    

This is our only neighbour in the campground at Majuhual.   They have a dog in the tent with them too.   I would have loved one of these when I was a kid.     

Random puppy on the beach.

  I think this is the smallest puppy I have ever seen.   

The little girl was so proud when she saw us taking a picture of her puppy.    The pup looks big in this picture, but it is deceiving because the girl is tiny and she is holding the puppy toward the camera.

We are now nicely tucked in at Majahual....extremely tired and extremely sore from overdoing it the last few days.    Time to chill.   

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dzibanche & Kinichna

Seeing the jaguar yesterday put us both in an exploring mood.   It was a bad idea, because we are both suffering back pain from yesterdays excursion.   Now we are both flat on our backs wishing the other one would wait on us hand and foot.  :)  Oh well, some times we are both down at the same time and we simply have to fend for ourselves.   I am glad I had the forethought to put a roast, beans and potatoes in the crock pot before we left this morning. 

Thankfully, the day was worth it.

These two archaeological sites are off the beaten path.  They aren't even in our book, which we thought was fairly comprehensive.  We didn't expect much, but were hoping it would be in the middle of the jungle and maybe we would see some wild life.   They turned out to be in the middle of the jungle which is in the middle of an area that has been cleared for farming.   

There are so many pictures to choose from.   If you want to see them all, you can find them on my facebook page

Dzibanche has quite a few buildings and kept us busy for a couple of hours.  We had the entire site to ourselves.   

You can climb most of the structures at this site.   I am big baby, and I basically crawl up on my hands and knees, then scooch down on my butt.   I'm not really afraid of heights, but I am terrified of falling.

There are several holes at the top on the back wall.   It is difficult to figure out what they are for.   They are at different heights and different sizes, but certainly not large enough to use as a watch out.   The amount that you can see when you look through them is limited. 

You can see the holes at the top.   From the back of the structure it seems to me that they make a design, perhaps that of a snake, or perhaps they have something to do with allowing the light through.  Could this be another temple that is designed for the angle of the sun during the solstice?

Dzibanche is home to the biggest ant hills I have ever seen. 

I took a couple of videos and was unable to upload them here.    I managed to get them uploaded into facebook.

Kinichna has only one structure, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality.

I was so tired, and so sore, I did not want to climb up.   How could I not?   I think one day these ruins will be as popular as Tulum and Chichen Itza and they will no longer allow people to walk on them.   There is an airport in nearby Chetumal, some good marketing and the tourists will come.     

Again, we were completely alone on this site.  It was surreal to be standing on this ancient structure.   It is only about 5 kilometers away from Dzibanche, but even as high as we were, we could not see the ruins for the forest.   

This is the back of the structure.   It has not been excavated yet.   I cannot fathom how they can be covered by so much dirt that trees grow out of their sides.    How does that happen?    

We were too exhausted and hurt too much to do any more exploring, even though we saw a few more signs for a few more ruins, we just couldn't take another step.   All the bread in all the grocery stores we tried since I got back from Chichen Itza has corn it in, so we had to find a bakery.   On our way back to the campground we went into Bacalar.

Much to our delight there was a Panderia (bakery) on the main strip just a couple blocks off the highway.   The display cabinet was almost empty, we thought they were getting ready to close.   We were in for another treat.   We were invited inside to see the bakers in action.  

42 pesos later we had buns and sweets enough for a half dozen people.   There is nothing like baked goods when you are flat on your back and feeling sorry for yourself.   :)  We will be back. 
Buying from local bakeries is more affordable than buying in groceries stores on the Mayan Riviera by a long shot.