Saturday, February 13, 2010

Haciendas & Flamingos

There are many haciendas in the Yucatan. They were originally large estates that mostly grew foodstuffs and didn't make a big profit. In the 19th century almost all of the haciendas started producing henequen, a fiber of the sisal plant that was used to bale hay. Prices and profits grew until a bust in the 1920s (I think I read a synthetic fiber replaced the henequen) and the haciendas entered a decline. Today many haciendas are luxury hotels and retreats a few are museums. We visited the Hacienda Yaxcopil. Most of the estate and the henequen factory are ruined and the main home is in need of a lot of repair, but it was interested to see and imagine how beautiful it once was. This is the main gate.

The front steps up to the main entry

View of the factory from the main house

Inside the main house
The courtyard between the main house and the kitchen and dining rooms

The henequen factory
Flamingos! After visiting the hacienda we drove to Port Progreso, on the Gulf of Mexico. Progreso is Merida's weekend beach resort and driving east along the coast we saw the back of beautiful, beautiful homes lining the coast. Also on this road, on the opposite side from the ocean, is a flamingo viewing tower. I think this must be a shallow estuary. Here's Omar looking for flamingos, we saw a few, but they were far away, you could hardly see them through the binoculars.

Further down the road we stopped to look at this big group of flamingoes, must closer than from the watchtower.

And then we turned off the the main road to take a different route back to Merida and saw hundreds of flamingoes so close to the road!

I think they were even closer than they look in this picture, but there I am on the road.

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