The Beach at Progreso, Complete with 4-Mile-Long Pier
Although I’m not much of a beach person, I decided to end my vacation in Mexico with three days at the Gulf port of Progreso, essentially doing nothing. Well, that’s not exactly true, because on one of those days I hired a taxi to take me to the Maya ruins at Dzibilchaltún (about which more in a later post). I spent my days looking for a nice shady place to read while escaping the heat, and my evenings relaxing in air-conditioned comfort at the Playa Linda Hotel, which was right on the beach.
Progreso is an odd town. When a cruise ship docks at the 4-mile-long pier, the town is overrun with retired American passengers looking for places to eat and things to do. On days when no cruise ship is socked, many places choose not to open at all: Only a few restaurants right near the centralized Calle 80 can be depended upon to welcome diners. There are no museums in Progreso, no really old churches; but there is a nice market with some interesting cheap dining places.
Good Cheap Eats at the Local Market
I had been to Progreso twice before, but only on day trips from nearby Mérida (about 25 miles south, or 43 km). What I remember most vividly were the fish dinners I had there. Now, on my third—and longer—visit, I can say that the fish is indeed wonderful. I remember a place of ceviche de pulpo, raw octopus marinated in lime juice and served with onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. The lime juice in effect “cooks” the octopus. On my last day in Yucatán, I had a ceviche de pescado (with fish this time) at the Marlin Azul in Mérida.
From the Beach Looking Down Calle 80 (with Lighthouse)
One final note: Why is the local pier 4 miles long? Apparently, the Gulf of Mexico is too shallow for shipping at lesser distances. If I were a more of a beach person, I would have waded out into the water to check it out—but alas, I never even so much as got my feet wet.
I Am Dreading the Next Few Days
As a giant high pressure area is setting up over the Southwest, we are expecting two days of high nineties (36-37º Celsius). Although the weather forecasts show a ten degree drop for Sunday, I am predicting the heat will probably persist, as it is wont to do. Santa Ana weather conditions almost always last longer than predicted, sometimes even for weeks.
Oh, but then there’s always the ocean, no? Not in this case. The winds blow the heat and smog westward toward the ocean. Sometimes we can see the smog hovering a few miles off the shore, waiting to be blown back over Southern California. Not only is it ungodly hot at the beach, but one’s feet burn in the superheated sand. Not a pleasant experience?
What to do? I will try to find a movie I can see during the afternoon. My comfort will depend on the theater’s air-conditioning system remaining in good working order. As for our apartment, we have no air conditioning. If there is a power outage (and our little area is subject to at least one or two a year), I will just have to go to bed early.
There are two bad aspects to living in Southern California: heat waves and earthquakes.
Actually, Not My Idea of a Fun Trip
Once again, I find myself in he minority. I live two and a half miles from Santa Monica Beach and about four miles from Venice Beach. If I wanted to go to the beach, I could walk there. The fact of the matter, however, is that beaches are not my idea of fun. The water is full of garbage and strange parasitic bacteria, the sun is usually too hot, and it’s virtually impossible to read there.
Back in the 1980s, I visited a number of beaches in Mexico at Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, and Cozumel; and I went with Martine to Cabo San Lucas two years ago this month. I thought they were very nice, but I don’t do the usual things that people do at the beach. If I go into the water at all, it’s to slosh around as I take a short walk. I’m not into swimming, I don’t snorkel or water surf. At Cabo, my sole water activity was a boat ride to see the arch pictured below.
Harbor Cruise to See the Arch at Cabo
When I Travel, I’m usually not interested in staying in one place: I like to move around and look around. Instead of brightly colored tropical drinks, I’ll settle for an ice cold beer after a hard day’s touring. The next trip I am planning—to New Mexico with Martin—is far from any beach. But there’s a lot to see, and some good food to be had seasoned with the local hot chiles.