Monthly Archives: October 2019

Sublime, Stimulating, Serene. Kayaking in Progreso

deck view with mangroves

This is the dock from where you will depart into the mangroves. This is on the leeward side of Progreso, just off the highway to Yucalpeten/Chelem, the bridge and the marinas.

Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t go to Brazil this year, but I found a recent trip through the mangroves by kayak to be a mostly relaxing and somewhat challenging adventure that reminded me much of what I miss the most about Amazonas.

The water is shallow, there are birds to be watched and the single-person kayak was easy to handle, even through the cramped tunnels of the mangrove forest that are literally meters away from the Progreso-Yucalpeten highway (you can hear the cars) but it seems like you are in another world entirely. In fact, you can imagine being in one of those cars speeding along and looking at the bush on the side of the road and not even thinking that there could be this whole other environment just inside.

The highlight for me was the relief of paddling in open water after the twisting and manoeuvering of the tunnel which presented multiple challenges to get the kayak through; in one case having to charge at full speed to go OVER a large mangrove branch, which our guide thankfully helped with.

The water is shallow, so you never feel you are going to drown, and unlike the Rio Negro, there are no piranhas to nibble on your fingers when you are pulling the kayak along using roots, branches and fallen debris, the paddle having become totally useless and stuck between legs and arms, along the length of the kayak.

Progreso has more to offer than cantinas and cheap massages on cruise ship days. Kayaking in the mangroves is definitely one of the more sublime and rewarding activities you can undertake, to work up an appetite for your freshly fried fish lunch at one of Progreso’s seafront restaurants a little later in the day. Enjoy the photos!

Thanks to SEFOTUR for the heads up and invite on this, the idea being to better get to know what sorts of activities there are for visitors to the Yucatan coast. This one is highly recommended!

reception desk, kayaks, Progreso

Here is the reception area where you will pay and decide what it is you want to do. There are night kayak tours and motorized fishing tours also available.

A look at the mangroves

These usually mark a natural fresh water spring many of which sprout up in the salty sea water, creating the brackish environment that birds love (think food)

Local celebrity Andrea from Yucatan Today, accompanying our little group on what was an official FAM trip

Into the tunnel

Traffic jams in the mangroves

Mangrove roots

More traffic

On this little island you can see birds (if you come early or late) and enjoy sinking into thick muddy quicksand up to your waist. It’s also nice to walk around for a bit after the mangrove tunnel kayak experience.

 

What is That in There?

Refrescos

Unmarked mysteries in the fridge

What the Hell is That?

Explaining some of those mysterious things lurking in that fridge.

If you are traveling in the Yucatan, and stopping here and there, especially in the smaller towns and villages along your route, you will perhaps see unusual things (along with the usual assortment of commercial brand soft drinks) in the corner store refrigerator that you might not have at your Seven Eleven back home. Here is an example (photo) of such a fridge and a brief explanation of what it is you are looking at, top left to bottom right.

Top Shelf

  1. Flan Casero. This means home-made flan and when I asked the young lady what it all had she said “huevo… y no sé que otra cosa” which means that she knows it has eggs in it, and that’s the extent of her knowledge of this version of flan. Flan is flan, so no need to go any further with the explanation, I think.
  2. Flan Comercial – this is flan from a box. Jello brand makes a flan that you add water or milk to and voila. That’s what’s in this larger cup.
  3. Those white liquid bottles are horchata. More on that when we get to the main horchata section.

Second Shelf

  1. Jamaica. Pronounced hah-MY-cah, this is an infusion made from a plant very similar to rosehips but much stronger. With fantastic diuretic and antioxidant properties, jamaica, along with its pale cousin horchata, are the most commonly found drinks along with sodas, in any self-respecting taqueria. Note that it is sweetened, as the original version with no sugar will make your tongue curl.
  2. Cebada. Cebada (seh-BAH-dah) is a drink made with barley. It’s kind of a strange, acquired taste kind of drink and those barley bits are a bit like bubble tea with the rubbery tapioca balls, and personally I am still struggling with it. But hey, it’s a drink with a source of fiber built-in.

Bottom Shelf

  1. Horchata. The rice (and sometimes almond) drink that accompanies jamaica in every fridge where Mexican food is served. There will be sediment on the bottom, which is a good thing. Give it a shake or two and enjoy it’s almond/cinnamon taste. Again, very sweet and most times made from concentrate. If you find the home-made version, marry whomever it is that made it because this is a true delicacy and becoming more and more rare in the world.
  2. Tamarindo. The fruit of the tamarind tree is a paste and it is extremely sour. Mixed with sugar, it becomes an excellent base for sherbets and drinks. Mixed with sugar, salt and chile it becomes the ubiquitous Mexican candy that will certainly give you the runs when you first try it.

There are other things in the fridge as well. In this case, as it was a taqueria, there was a giant tub of raw meat on the floor of the fridge. Do not be put off by such apparent disparate refrigerator ingredients and be thankful that you don’t live in a land where nanny-state laws prohibit such practical solutions to every-day restaurant problems.