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celestun

I cross the Yucatan Peninsula, ambling slowly between villages among ruins and cenotes, until I reach Celestun, a relaxed coastal village, on another estuary teeming with birds.

Jesus is the big man in Mucuyche. Every house in this village had bible verses painted on the outside walls.

Heading to Celestun, I meet a fellow traveller on the road.

Celestun is another estuary, with extensive mangrove swamps and, like Rio Lagartos, flamingos are the main tourist draw card. However, at this time of year, only small flocks are to be seen.

Evading the motor boat touts who offer flamingo tours no matter where the flamingos happen to actually be, I stumble across a more ecologically sound tourist project. At Manglares de Dzinitun swamp tours are propelled by sustainable means - walking, biking and canoeing. The area suffered heavy damage during Hurricane Gilbert, twenty years ago, and the mangroves are currently being replanted here in a government sponsored reforestation project. After chatting to some members of the collective who own the land and manage the project I end up being given free reign to explore and camp where I want.

I am given a very soggy canoe tour of the mangroves during a sudden downpour...

... but the storm doesn't stop me from admiring the tangled roots ...

... and tannin red waters of the mangroves.

However, the rain was so heavy that a host of spiders fell from above, washed out of the trees by the downpour and I was not a happy arachnophobe.

Admirable though I found the Manglares de Dzinitun project, eco-awareness doesn't necessarily extend quite as far as I would like. This unfortunate baby tortoise was in the dubious care of a bunch of adoring but clueless children.

I spend a couple of days in Celestun, admiring the stormy skies while eating fresh seafood on the beach.

Leaving town I find a board walk running several kilometres...

... through truly impressive mangrove forest...

... full of birds and other wildlife.

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