Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rio Largatos on the Yucatan Peninsula: Where Flamingos Feast on Camerones

Entrance channel to Rio Largatos, MX

We hired a guide through the Tourist Information Center located on the water front. His name is Santiago and he showed up at the Gloriamaris at 6:30AM to take us on a two hour tour. The cost for the two of us - $53. We requested an early morning tour but he will take you out whenever you would like. We were having such a good time we were out for almost 3 hours. We gave Santiago a good tip for his kindness and excellent local knowledge..

We like the two headed flamingo.

Flamingos exiting stage left. 
We suspect they either do not like white Pelicans or our approaching boat even though we are being quiet and cautious ........

Wait! Let's exit stage right instead. To heck with the pelican.

Seldom seen. They do actually bundle up their long legs and swim.

However, they only like the shallow end so they can have a running start for take off.

Black Eagle 

Traditional Pelicans ignoring us.

White Pelicans on a spa day at the salt flats. Rio Largatos is a major producer of sea salt and apparently these waters are excellent for the skin. Not to mention one would have no problem floating.

The salt mountain and plant

We met the model for the Flamingo lawn ornaments. She was strolling 5th Ave of the Salt Flats.

Santiago, our guide for birding this morning is trying to locate a short-billed heron to show us. Apparently they are a shy small heron that feeds on the branches of the mangroves. We manged to catch the tail end of one as it flew off. 

Santiago did find a crocodile for us. It was as still as a log lurking in the mangroves.

Santiago splashes the surface of the water to get the croc to visit us. Do not try this in an inflatable dinghy.

Santiagos' hand on the left. The croc moved so fast we thought his name was going to be 
Tic Toc. Santiago was faster and avoided needing an eye patch and pirate hat to go with a new hook.

Circling and circling, trying to figure out what there is to eat.

This bridge has huge turnbuckles but alas silhouetted and hard to make out. Just beyond are the salt flats.

Back in the bay near the town.
 Gloriamaris way off in the distance on the right.
Foreground - pangas set up for catching octopus. 

More octopus boats. The smaller boats are placed thwart ship on the larger boats and launched once at sea.

Charlie the Bow Spirit on the bow pulpit at the restaurant

Excuse my finger in the pictures ahead. My cropping program went on strike or rather the wifi did at the time I was trying to get this done.

Thought you might enjoy the work that went into the outside walls of this house.

And, the towns clock tower now surrounded by cell phone towers

While here, we had a small Halloween/Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. 
Our Trick or Treat bag yielded these dark chocolate morsels filled with Kahlua or Tequila. We are partial to the tequila.

We are now in  Isla Mujeres, MX where we hope to pick up our new radar and gas grill the owners are having flown into Cancun. 
Once we have our new parts we will set sail for Belize and then on to the Rio Dulce, Guatemala to be reunited with Leap. We miss her. 

Tidbits from Progreso

Progreso - a main street in the morning quiet before the cruise ship arrives

Below - A very nice restaurant on the Malecon. The Malecon is the main beach front street. 

A Desert Rose at our hotel - Nicte Ha

Classic storefront though no longer in business

Wine time

Balcony sunset

Boat readying for departure and heading out to sea for the night or longer, as octopus season has arrived. Note the small boats on the bow.

The small boats are launched when the destination for octopus fishing is reached. Russel tells us the nickname for these small boats - coffins. Apparently many fisherman have died at sea for one reason or another and the boats have wash ashore empty.

The fisherman use the hand lines - pictured below - stored against the hull. In preparation for this trip they have also been out catching land crabs which are used for bait. The crabs are tied with a harness of sorts to keep them from escaping or fighting. There are buckets of  harnessed crabs on board which leads us to believe they plan on catching lots of octopus. The procedure, to the best of our understanding goes as follows.
The fisherman ties the harnessed crab to the line dropping it to the bottom and then waits for an octopus to grab it, then hauls both of them to the surface. The fisherman gets the crab free from the octopus: we are sure this requires a very special talent knowing octopus prefer not to let go. Once the crab is free back it goes to the bottom for another round. I asked, " How many times can you use the same crab?"  Reply,  "Diaz"  "Ten times?!" I ask. "Si" 
 Each fisherman can have 10 to 12 lines down at one time so we suspect it can get busy.

A fraction of the hand lines neatly stowed.

Icing the hold

The bamboo pole off the bow has a twin off the stern. Hand lines are tied to these as well.
Off they go.  

This is not the greatest picture but we have to share it. It is of the fishing boat coming in. The two white orbs are the running lights: flourescent lights tied to the mast and boom.

Yucatan and Mayan Treats

Dragon Fruit, only found in the Yucatan
One of these is the size of two of my fists. Tastes like kiwi fruit. We wrote about this fruit when in Progreso last year, but did not have local tips. This year we learned......

....the locals make juice from the white part. Mashing and mixing with water. Or just eat the way it is. The hot pink and lime green skins are not for eating.

Another treasure - Naranja Agria - sour orange. Indeed they are sour! The juice is used in many Mayan and Yucateco recipes. I am juicing the last of the batch to freeze into ice cubes for future recipes.

One of our favorites is this radish relish. We use it in our fish tacos, or as salad dressing, or on grilled fish or chicken. Your choice.
The ingredients are finely diced radishes, minced fresh cilantro and sour orange juice. Proportions directly related to your taste preferences. Keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

Other ingredients not pictured:
Oregano Yucateco. I do not know what kind of oregano is grown here but it is roasted and that imparts a fabulous flavor to any dish. Perhaps a place like Penzey's may have it.
Sikil Paak  - Pepitas - pumpkin seeds roasted then finely ground. Grill some tomatoes, mash gently and mix in Sikil Paak and sour orange to taste. We used it on our fish, chicken, eggs whatever you like tomatoes on.
Ricado Rojo - freshly made in the market. It is a thick chili paste used as a base in recipes such as 
Poc Chuc - grilled pork, and Pollo Asado - grilled chicken.

I also made Pineapple Salsa - Excellent with smoked pork chops; which are in every market here as well as in the Bay Islands of Honduras. Also, especially good in fish or chicken tacos.

If you want to a read more about Yucatan and Mayan cooking and see the recipes for the above dishes visit:
Los Dos has a substitute for sour orange: a combination of lime and grapefruit juice.