Day 16: Izamal to Telchac Puerto - Grampies Yucatan Return: Winter 2023 - CycleBlaze

January 15, 2023

Day 16: Izamal to Telchac Puerto

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We like to think that we are interested in all aspects of the places we visit on the bikes (except maybe the museums, the beer and wine, nightlife, motor sports, gambling, ...)  OK, let's call it most aspects. But each place also has things that jump out at you, or draw more attention from us. In Yucatan, especially last time, it was the Mayan food items,  plus the flamingos. This time, we seem to be seeing a lot more birds, and plants, and are having a great time watching for them.  It has been a slightly unexpected emphasis, and a big plus for our enjoyment.

Many of the readers, and notably Bill Shaneyfelt and Scott Anderson, have been joining in heartily in identifying what we are seeing. This is adding to the fun a lot.  But  yesterday, in identifying the fluffy Ceiba, Bill gave a reference to a naturalist's newsletter from someone called Jim Conrad.  Conrad's article on the Ceiba was really clear and excellent, and I started to look at some of his other stuff. For example, there was an article on Rio Lagartos that was super informative.  Conrad also has some articles on his views about the wonder and miracle of Nature, that struck a chord with me.  Later I will read more of his stuff. Thanks for the tip, Bill!

Today started with that good Conrad newsletter,  and quickly got better and better, finally clocking in as the best day of this trip.  We were heading  straight north, to the coast, and Dodie just sniffed out some likely roads to take us there. But the roads were so great! They were by and large traffic free, or at least lightly travelled. We went one hour at one point without seeing another vehicle. The roads were surrounded by trees and flowers or varying types, and when they passed through what turned out to be clean and interesting towns, they revealed lovely more domesticated trees and flowers.  What's more, we passed orchards or plantations of types we had not seen before. When finally we reached the coast, there were mangrove swamps, sea birds, and ultimately flamingos! Finally, we had not booked a place to stay one the coast, for once gambling that we would find something when we got there. But after a bit at the coast we were not seeing anything, so we panicked, grabbed the phone, and booked something out of our normal price range.  I am writing this now from my desk at that place, with an espresso from my coffee maker here, listening to gentle music from my music system that I have not yet figured out how to turn off. I already photographed the sunset from our balcony, where also we can keep an eye on our yacht. Ok, so it's not our yacht. But our bikes do not need surveillance as they are sleeping at Recepti0n.

Here is the picture story of our trip today. It will catch the narrative, but I have reserved the birds, plants, trees, and plantations for their own sections at the end.

We started the day with a home made breakfast, featuring fruit salad that Dodie put together the night before. It came put a lot cheaper than the one at the San Clemente in Valladolid, but then Dodie put in the labour component.

Orange, banana, papaya!
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We had thought we walked all around the big pyramid yesterday, looking for a way up, but clearly not. Here as we were leaving were lots of ways up!

Next time, we'll climb it.
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The starting temperature for us, at 5 a.m. was an incredibly chilly 8 degrees. We toughed it out for a little while, but first I and then Dodie went digging for more clothes, which basically meant our rain gear.  This made things tolerable, except for cold hands. Of course, before 10 a.m. it all came off. The day was never broiling, though, maxing out for us around 27 degrees.

The first stars of today's ride were the roads. In good condition and with minimal traffic, offering lots of birds and plants to look at. Another time we could base in Izamal or Merida and just cycle all over this section. It is clearly the best we have seen in Yucatan. Here are some of the roads. They are pretty boring shots, because they are just blank roads. But that's the point - they are free of traffic, and only partially because I must have waited for any cars to clear off.

Coming out of Izamal
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The yellow flowers have been with us for days, but they were most dominant on today's ride. I actually shot this to show the banks of yellow flowers along the road.
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Here our road not much wider than a bike path. No problem, because of almost no cars.
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This was shot to show the long stone wall. Walls like this went on for kms.
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At the coast.
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Reaching our luxury hotel was tricky because of lagoons in the way. Google Maps had some cuckoo suggestions about how to get there.
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A very prominent feature of the roadways throughout the Yucatan are the relatively untended dogs. They are all of a short haired type and are always thin. Normally they bark from the sides, or sleep in the road, and are not aggressive.  But some get too worked up and come too close barking. Then, we shout at them.  Today, at some point, some were really getting to aggressive. So I countered by picking up a stick. The photo shows me at my most aggressive. The dogs were impressed, anyway.

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The large yellow churches are not confined to major towns, but rather are found all over.
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I am always on the lookout for a bakery. I went in to this one and could see only bread. But I recommended Dodie go too, just for the smell. However, she came out with two cakes!
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The one on the right has a top layer of flan. For some reason it was call Pan Imposible.
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Jacquie GaudetThe one on the right looks so good I had to google "pan imposibile". I found this "Mexican Chocoflan Impossible Cake is a dense, rich chocolate cake stacked with creamy vanilla flan, dripping with a delicate layer of cajeta caramel sauce" and one of these days I'm going to give it a try!

Apparently it's impossible because with the layers one way and then comes out with the layers different.
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1 week ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Jacquie GaudetIt did taste really good!
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This kid at the bakery is protected with helmet and mask.
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We made it easily back to the coast, with all its great coastal sights.

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There was a lagoon inland, that had a noticeable pink tinge. We were sure we would find Flamingos, and we did. See below.
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As we cycled along the coast road we heard an excited announcer on a loudspeaker, and the roar of a crowd. Investigation revealed a baseball game. Striike!
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Along the coast there were lots of vacation homes for sale, and many under construction. One development caught our eye, because it was huge but looked like the unfinished Death Star. A faded billboard claimed it was 90%  sold.

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The Death Star
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90% sold
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As we search for the hotel we had booked, we got thrown among other finished and not finished developments, out in the inhospitable quasi desert by the water.

Large development in the middle of nowhere
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This one may or may not be derelict
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We stopped in to one going concern, the Hotel Mayan Beach and asked after ours - the Grand Marina. It was up ahead, in the "desert". When we arrived we were greeted at the beginning of the grounds by a security guard. He had a hard time believing we were actually customers. Finally he grudgingly accepted the notion that we might possibly dine at the restaurant, but surely not stay in the hotel.  He carefully walked us to reception, and kept a wary eye on us, to make sure we did not display some vagrant, cycle tourist behaviour, I guess.

Getting walked deeper into the exclusive territory.
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Aha, we had failed to arrive by boat or yacht, our first demerit.
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At reception, a lot of palaver was needed to explain about how we needed to stay with our bikes, did not want a room on the second floor, needed to recharge, etc.  All this required Dodie to sort out - she is more patient.

Our place has a kitchen.
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and this balcony
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I like the balcony for keeping tabs on my boat!
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Bedroom
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and look Scott, 8 pillows!
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The surrounding area is not at all paradise, but I have to admit once the concrete bones of a development have been finished with tiles and palapas and such, they can be very comfortable.
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We ended our day in the Marina restaurant, where the prices were about 25% higher than the high prices I had expected. However our dishes were truly excellent, and rather worth it. We were derelict in not recording exactly what they were like. One was just a really good hamburger, while the other was chicken with hibiscus sauce. The chicken  had cooked onion and carrot, and burger had fries that were unique and really good. 

Time to go back and have a look at some of the sights along the way today:

Plantations

Yucatan for us so far has been devoid of any large farms or orchards. Not so today. Our first was large plantings of hennequen, which is an Agave that is used for fibre, often to make rope. Hennequen was the industrial basis of this region, for example the port of Sisal from which the products were shipped.  The Wikipedia article on this industry is fascinating.

We were surprised at how tall the plants can be (over 6 feet) and at the extensive plantings. But we also came to a plant that was processing the spikes, creating sheaves of fibre that were being set out to dry on racks. We know they will later be bundled into large bales and shipped out, probably from Progreso.

The are extensive agave plantations here
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The plants can be very big
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Cut bundles ready to go to the shredder
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Shredded fibre set put out to dry
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Here comes some more!
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Coconut palms became more common near the coast. Here are some that were in orderly rows, no doubt harvested regularly.

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Papaya is commonly seen by the roadside. But those trees are lanky and usually have small fruit. A papaya orchard is stalky and has big fruit!

Papaya plantation
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Finally a mystery one. We have no idea what this is!

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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like dragon fruit cactus, but I've never seen them groing togethr with leafy stuff...

OK, after considerable searching, looks like maybe the shrubs are for dragon fruit support.

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Pitahaya-(Hylocereus-spp.)%3A-a-short-review-Ortiz-Hern%C3%A1ndez-CARRILLO-SALAZAR/5dc56d527ae1ab8f517a61dfcf1f8eaba8eb8c2a/figure/2
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2 weeks ago

How about birds, anything new today?

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Scott AndersonYour best shot yet of a white-winged dove.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like a kestrel to me. Not seen one in person myself.

https://www.backyardnature.net/n/b/kestrel.htm
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Bill ShaneyfeltThe only thing I found that sort of matches is slate-colored seedeater, but they are only accidental visitors.

https://www.peruaves.org/thraupidae/slate-colored-seedeater-sporophila-schistacea/
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Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltIt is interesting. How about a female or immature blue grosbeak?
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Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonPossibly... But this one looks like a slightly shorter tail and somewhat lighter underparts.

I'm not going to be solid on it either way, although the grosbeak range is more likely.
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Bill ShaneyfeltYou mock me again?
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2 weeks ago
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Scott Andersonso beautiful - a little blue heron.
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1 week ago
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Scott AndersonAnother nice one. A snowy egret and juvenile white ibis, I think.
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Bill ShaneyfeltIbis... maybe white faced?

https://ebird.org/species/whfibi
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Bill ShaneyfeltOne of the flycatchers, maybe a western kingbird?

https://ebird.org/species/weskin
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like some kind of sandpiper... lots to choose from! Maybe a stilt sandpiper?

https://ebird.org/species/stisan
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And of course, the Flamingos

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Not pink at all - must be the youngest one we have seen.
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Flowers filled our day as well:

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See the bee! These yellow flowers were humming all day.
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We only saw this once by the roadside.
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Bill ShaneyfeltSome species of nightshade.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum
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Podded trees were big today, and one road between two towns was lined with them all the way. 

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We saw so much more today, but maybe you the reader are getting tired. I sure am! Better quit, and rest up for another day tomorrow.  We can end with that sunset from the balcony!

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Today's ride: 85 km (53 miles)
Total: 715 km (444 miles)

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Marvin PaxmanWow, pretty great day! You're making us jealous. Erika wonders if the number of pillows could be used as a measure like the multi-jammer breakfasts?
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