I had read – briefly – about the coastal town Rio Lagartos and its “hundreds” of flamingos (“if you are lucky”) in the guidebook. But with it being more than a small pain in the ass to travel to – not to mention completely devoid of hostels – this solo traveller scratched off the list.
Until two people I met at the hostel in Valladolid suggested a side trip, and offered to do the planning. And then I was firmly back on board.
Our bus dropped us on an unknown street in Rio Lagartos and we spent a couple of moments exchanging confused and lost glances before a random gentleman pulled up on a motorbike, offering to help us find a place to stay for the night. And before I had a chance to even open my mouth, one of my fellow travellers had daringly hopped onto the back of his bike and disappeared off down the road. Yes, really. After ten minutes of kicking stones in the road and hoping for her safe return, the bike pulled around the corner bringing with it our friend – and news that a hotel had been secured. At a discount. Because not only had she disappeared with an unknown man, but she had haggled at one of the only half-decent looking hotels in the town. Kudos.
Before we had a chance to explore further, the bike-owning gentleman (who turned out to be in charge of the local tourism board, who knew!) was keen to show us to the harbour where we could catch a ride out to see the flamingos. This spontaneous side-trip suddenly felt very well organised.
The boat trip – all in Spanish, go me! – distinctly reminded me of a Jungle boat ride I’d been on in Disney World about ten years earlier, minus the mechanical animals. The key feature seemed to be birds. So many birds. And so many colours.
We also saw crocodiles, and met this pre-historic little dude, who (as a species) is apparently as old as the dinosaurs, which I take to mean that he has pretty impressive survival skills. Must be the armour jacket.
The grand finale – supposedly – was the flamingo spotting. In my head, I was going to turn a corner any minute and see flocks (is that the right term?) of them. Like, hundreds. But of course, it didn’t really turn out this way. Still, I am a bit of a flamingo fan and seeing them hang out in the wild – rather than caged up in some zoo – was still pretty cool. Particularly because they were flying around, lots, which is totally not how you imagine flamingos who are stood perfectly still on one leg in all of the pictures.
A short note on the town of Rio Lagartos – I’m going to call it ‘rustic’: pretty run down and only a handful of restaurants and hotels – but totally refreshing after the SIMS-like construction that is Cancun (in my humble opinion).
The night ended with a Pina Colada, a sunset and a bite to eat. We were up early the next morning for a spot of breakfast before starting another day of exploring – to involve pyramids, a tuk tuk and subwoofer speakers. Simultaneously.