Our last stop in Yucatan was Valladolid, a quieter, less touristy town that is in the middle of the Peninsular and a great launch pad for all the Mayan ruins in the area. Chief amongst those ruins is Chichen Itza - perhaps the most quintessential of all Mayan ruins.
As a result of being so quintessential, it is also probably the most touristy place we've been to since Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico City. It's large, well preserved central pyramid is exactly what you imagine when you imagine a Mayan temple. So, tick, more ruins seen. Saw a snake out there as well! Just a little one though, seemed harmless.
The other ruins we went out to were Ek' Balam. While much less popular, it is more impressive in some ways. It hasn't been cleared/excavated as extensively as Chichen Itza so the jungle still swallows up large parts of it. But the main temple is actually, essentially an ancient apartment complex which is quite unique and impressive, especially as it actually pre-dates Chichen Itza. It also makes it one of the most complex buildings the Mayans ever constructed.
But the highlight of our time in Valladolid, and really one of the highlights of the whole trip, was Río Lagartos which translates to 'Alligator River' because it's an estuary with crocodiles - stupid Spanish.
We were keen to get out there because it's a breeding spot for Flamingoes and because the best time to see them is the morning and evening we spent the night there. We found a lovely guide with a boat to take us out on the 20 kilometre long estuary where we found hundreds of Flamingoes as well as Osprey, Black Hawks, Vultures, Herons, Egrets, Stalks, Cranes, Cormorants, King Fishers, White Pelicans, Brown Pelican and one unfortunate crocodile.
While looking through binoculars at the Flamingoes an Osprey plunged into the water in front of me and pulled out a fish.
The deepest part of the estuary is only one and a half metres deep but most if it is really only a few inches which accounts for the large number of long legged birds who are mostly just standing in the water, not least of which are the Flamingoes of course. They were certainly the brightest coloured ones we've ever seen (and we do seek them out). But what a ridiculous creature. We were a little early for mating season which starts mid to late march but some of the younger ones were starting to practice their strut. They are surprisingly elegant in the air with long skinny necks sticking out front and long skinny legs out the back but with a sizeable body with huge colourful wings. I really feel like their bills are on upside down with the bulk of it making up the bottom part and just a little flap on top which makes their honking sounds all the more comical. It's also easy to see why Lewis Carol thought to use them as Croquet sticks with the way they stick their necks out.
So that was Valladolid. I'll spare you my usual history lesion about the Caste War, I usually just lift that from Wikipedia anyway.