|Photo by Eric Chaffee|
Thursday my friends Eric, Paul and I decided to take a drive out to the coast and visit a favorite beach area not far from Mérida.
It was an uneventful but, as always, interesting drive. As we meandered through small pueblos where motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians vastly outnumber the cars, we slowed to eyeball roadside fruit stands, searching for hard-to-find tropical varieties that are uncommon and costlier in the city. Passing through stretches of countryside between pueblos we watched the changing scenery and identified a couple of rustic side roads that looked interesting enough to draw us back on some future exploration.
Soon we sensed the rich, organic aroma of the sticky black mud in the brackish lagoon. Suddenly on both sides of the road there was water, shallow, dark and dotted with clumps of mangroves, snags and the forms of various wading birds.
We were nearing the coast but still surrounded by the lagoon when we saw it: a scattering of dark specks against the blue sky, as if a giant had hurled a huge handful of black pepper into the blue. Eric stopped the car in the road and we jumped out to look.
The specks took shape, forming into straggling, irregular lines as they neared us. As they grew in size, the dots suddenly transformed into silhouettes revealing shades of hot pink in the morning sun.
We were watching a flock of flamingos, which had been flying along the coast and suddenly veered inland above us, making toward the lagoon we had just crossed.
|Photo by Eric Chaffee|
The high point of the day had come early, but the rest of it was not a letdown. After spending an hour or two wandering and observing in a nearby nature reserve, a virgin coastal strip which includes beach and lagoon (and according to warning signs, is home to crocodiles), we came back to the pueblo to wander through the centro and go to a favorite seafood restaurant.
The waiter always remembers us and greets us with a smile and a handshake. As usual, the ceviche and fish filets were superb.
The sound system played Louis Armstrong singing, "On the Sunny Side of the Street." Palms and flowering trees swayed in the gentle, mild breeze. I savored my coffee as we sat under the palapa and talked the afternoon away.
Finally, we walked a meandering route back to the car, through a neighborhood inhabited by fishermen, along the beach, and out onto the pier, where we proceeded hats-in-hand, due to the strong breeze. We talked with two boys selling jewelry and utensils made of shells.
As frequently occurs around here, a day begun without a specific goal turned out to be one of surprises and small pleasures. A day of good moments. One of the best kinds of days.