mexico

Angel was... amazing!

Lucas and his family took a tour to some Mayan ruins and followed that with a visit to a pretty, hidden cenote. Here's what they had to say...

Thank you for checking on us and I’m sorry for taking so long to respond... We had an absolutely great time!!! Angel, our guide, was amazing!!! Please keep him working with the company as he is awesome!!! The van he picked us up in was in great shape and air conditioned... We felt completely safe the entire time... The Mayan ruins were gorgeous and we had the place almost all to ourselves... I have taken the “boat tour” and this is trip was worlds better!!! We then headed to the cenote, and WOW... Again, almost all to ourselves... Only one other small family there... The was was super clear and soo refreshing!!! Angel had a small lunch prepared for us that was unexpected and very delicious!!! Angel was very cognizant of getting us back to the boat in plenty of time to board...

Please keep Angel working with your company as he is a huge asset!! We will be using William Lawson again and will be referring people to you... We will be adding a Trip Advisor comment as well... I am going to send you a few pics from our tour... I do not have the Mayan Ruin pics with me right now, but will send some of those soon as well....

Thank you, your company, and Angel for a great and unforgettable time!!!!
— - email -

Glad we chose you!

Kari came to town with her family and loved her excursion!

I am very glad we chose to use your company while in Progresso.

We had a great time. Your tour guide and driver were very professional and informative.

I will tell my friends to use your company if they visit Mexico.

Thanks again for answering all of my questions. I know I had a lot of them!
— - email -

Will always remember our day there...

Brent and his family visited us through Carnival and their stop at Progreso. Here is an excerpt from his really nice email:

... My family had the Mayapan and Cenote tour earlier this week. We wanted to thank you all for the experience in Progreso. We had a great time with Angel and Jorge. Angel was such a great and knowledgeable tour guide. We are so glad we decided to do that on our visit. My family will always remember our day there...
— - email excerpt -

Lawson is the best!

Lisa came, saw and conquered, took a lot of photos too - and she and her little group had a great time! Read their comments below...

Photographing in one of many churches on the Convent Route

My husband and I, along with a friend, visited Merida in July of 2014. It was really hot, and had it not been for William Lawson tours, we would not have enjoyed our two week stay nearly as much. It is the most personable and fun tour that we have done. William Lawson is the best!!!
— - blog comment -

Exceeded our Expectations!

Bob had this to say about his excursion with us, from the Carnival docked in Progreso recently...

Merida's wet streets after an afternoon shower.

Kudos to Angel and Jorge!

The tour exceeded expectations. The agenda was very flexible an followed our requested timeline. Angle and George were very attentive aiding the older members of our tour group. The local tacos and hot sauce were great.

What a pleasant experience
— - email -

Wonderful day!

We took Diana and friends to Ek Balam and the area recently. Here is what she had to say: 

Chilling in the Xcanché cenote near Ek Balam

Buenos dias,

Thank you for the pictures and for the wonderful day we spent with you seeing some of the great things the Yucatan has to offer. Without your help we would never have experienced your special restaurant in Temozon and its amazing smoked meats. Truly yummy!! Also the beautiful custom furniture. Bob is thrilled with his new case, it was exactly what he has been looking for??

Hope to see you again soon and see more of your special places,
Diana
— - email -

Angel, above and beyond! A private tour to Chichen Itzá

El Castillo, the most popular and iconic building at Chichen Itzá, Yucatán, México

Christine and Leo stayed in Merida and wanted to get to Chichen Itzá before the crowds and vendors and heat! So a private tour was the only way to go and Angel once again proved that he is one of the most popular guides we have in our Lawson's arsenal. Here is what Christine and Leo have to say about their private tour to Chichen:

Hi!

Leo and I just returned from our Yucatan trip yesterday. I couldn’t let another day go by without thanking you for the wonderful tour you provided to see the Chichen Itza ruins. It was the highlight of our trip.

The decision to go earlier in the morning was a good one as I think we picked the hottest day of the week to go! That extra two hours afforded us a better chance to see things without the crowds which descended on us as we were leaving. I also want to commend our tour guide, Angel, on a job well done. He was very informative and delighted us with his knowledge and insight into the Mayan culture and history. He truly seems to enjoy his work and it reflected in how he presented the information to us. He made us even more interested in the Mayan story than we already were.

Angel went above and beyond the call of duty in our view. Being such a hot day I’m sure he suffered right along with us and we all were melting when we left in the early afternoon. He actually stopped and bought us ice cream on the trip back to Merida! We really appreciated that. But as if that weren’t enough he felt we deserved more treats and stopped at a local Pollo Bruja where we each got a chicken for a pic-nic in the van!! What a special treat. The ice cream was an adventure (corn in ice cream! What a concept!) and the chicken was one of the best tasting meals we’ve had, partly because we were all pretty well barbequed ourselves by the end of the day.

He then drove us around Merida and through some neighborhoods we would not have ordinarily been able to see. In short the entire day was a memorable one due entirely to our tour guide. I hope you will extend our thanks and appreciation to him. We got his picture so we can remember him.

I would definitely recommend your tour service as the best way to see the sights in Mexico. Private tours are the only way to experience the sites of interest in a more personal and much more convenient and comfortable way. We never would have taken so much information away with us if we had gone with a group. In fact we probably would not have survived the scorching heat and masses of tourists if we had done otherwise.

Thanks again for a wonderful and memorable experience. And again, a special thanks to Angel. Please extend our gratitude to him.

Christine y Leo
— - email -

David was fantastic!

Janice and her friend were here for a few days and besides visiting the convent routes, they took a birding tour with David, our expert resident birder who can identify a bird from it's squawk, peep, or whistle if you send him a recording made on your iPhone, he's that good. Janice thought so too, apparently.

I was actually going to send you an email. David was fantastic! You have really made my experiences in the Yucatan into something special. Can’t thank you enough.
— - email -

Birds and more birds! An absolutely incredible experience!

From the Carnival ship, a pair of birders set out with our intrepid birding expert David, and this is what they had to say!

I want to thank you again for arranging my recent birding tour. I had an absolutely incredible experience. David’s expertise was exquisite. He found us over 60 species of bird during the 7 hours or so we had, despite the rainy and overcast weather. It was more than I could hope for. I would really love to post some sort of review or description of my experience on your website. David mentioned that ours was the first strictly birding tour that your company offered, so I hope my review will help other birders choose you for their tours. Is there any means of me providing such a review to you?

Thank you again and I will be sure to recommend you to my friends and family. I will likely be back again myself!

Best wishes,
Eric
— email -

Lawson's Tour Far Better...

Elizabeth and her family chose Lawson's Original Yucatan Excursions for their day trip when they visited Progreso with Carnival las summer. Here is what she has to say:

The cenote at Dzibilchaltun - refreshing on a hot day!

The cenote at Dzibilchaltun - refreshing on a hot day!

Tour Review for Lawson’s Original Yucatan Excursions
Jan 05, 2014, 4:24 PM
Last July (Yes, it has taken me this long to get this posted...) my family went on a cruise to Progreso, Mexico and booked a tour with Lawson for our day on shore. I had been to Progreso before and taken the ship’s tours and without a doubt, taking a tour with Lawson was by far better.
I corresponded with Ralf before the trip to plan our excursion and he developed a tour that was perfect for our family. We decided to visit a local marketplace, a couple of cenotes and a small Mayan ruin. Our family consisted of our parents which are in their late sixties and our four children which ranged in age from eighteen to eleven, my husband and myself.
We took the free shuttle to meet Ralf and Angel at AutoProgreso (there is a front and a back to the building with a small market between them, if you get there and can’t find your tour guide, walk through the market to the other side where the taxi drivers park, we made this mistake and Angel had to come find us)
We drove to a local market and got to walk around and sample some of the local fruits and vegetables, drinks and food. We felt safe the entire time which was important to us because of a previous trip and tour that had given us a few causes for alarm. We ate pork sandwiches and drank local made juices (there were about four different types that we sampled) then we visited a couple of different local vendors in the market square. We visited a turn of the century church and was serenaded by a local farmer.
As we drove to our first cenote, Ralf was able to handle our multitude of questions and Angel stopped here and there to gather samples of leaves and fruit from local trees and bushes. We were able to sample and handle some of the most interesting and delicious vegetation.
The first cenote we visited was basically just a large hole in the ground filled with crystal clear water that looked like a filled cave once you were in it. There was a latter and ropes strung across the top of the water. There were divers there to dive into the caverns below. Our children had the best time jumping into the cenote and swimming. Our parents sat on a rock wall and enjoyed visiting with Ralf and Angel and a few other local people that were there to enjoy the day. I appreciated the fact that this cenote was secluded and not crowded as we were able to enjoy ourselves without dodging the multitudes that seem to congregate at such beautiful sites.
Ralf brought towels for us and had cold drinks to share as we climbed back into the van to head to a small Mayan ruin, Dzibilchaltun. I just began a new teaching job that included covering the Mayan culture and Angel was like a lifeline for me as we toured this ancient settlement because my questions were never - ending. Angel patiently answered EVERY one of them and Ralf was generous enough to herd our four adventurous children on to the cenote within the settlement that had little fish that liked to exfoliate the dead skin from your body which tickles tremendously. We joined them to cool off from the heat and relax for a while. Our parents took the opportunity to do some photo taking because the scenery is beautiful there.
We loaded back into the van, stocked with cold drinks and headed back into the city for a little shopping time before we had to get back on the ship.
If you are looking for an interesting, fun tour where someone else takes great care of you and all you have to do is go along for the ride, then book with Lawson. Our children are still talking about the great time they had and all the interesting things they learned without realizing it.
— by email

Wondrous. Miraculous. Not Hyperbolizing.

Ben and his family visited this fall and we had the pleasure of taking them on two tours of the area. Here are his impressions of the experience; we are truly touched by the way we were able to make this much more than a simple vacation day trip. Thank you Ben! 

Wondrous and miraculous. That’s the experience William Lawson Tours provided my family this past week in Progreso Yucatan. I’m not hyperbolizing.

First, the wondrous part. Our guide, Angel, took us on two fantastic excursions. The first was to the ruins at Mayapan and two cenotes afterwards. Both were fantastic experiences. Angel’s knowledge of Mayan history and culture was awesome; he answered every question and made observations that enriched our experience. We were the only people at the cenotes, and my two young adult sons had a blast, leaping 30 to 40 feet into the dark cenote waters that seemed like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, only better. In between, while we were driving on narrow jungle roads east of Merida, Angel provided us with an impromptu snack, asking a local Mayan lady to make us some fresh habanero salsa with chaya & scrambled egg tortillas, which we ate at a hacienda in the early stages of restoration. It was quiet and real, yet other worldly. On our way out, Angel stopped along a little road and stripped one henequen leaf down to its sisal fibers, twisted it, and knotted it at one end, showing us in just a few moments, what brought great wealth to Yucatan when henequen was green gold for the region. As we drove along, I knotted the other end and have saved the tiny strand of twine as an invaluable keepsake of another time and another world.

Our second excursion was to the Yaxcopoil Hacienda and the ruins at Uxmal. Uxmal was magnificent and not overrun, allowing use to roam freely and enjoy Angel’s explanations and story-telling. Again, the stuff in between was every bit as enriching and stirring. We stopped at a magnificent hilltop vista above the town of Muni, and explored the lovely creations of an artisan there (his name escapes me). We stopped at a tiny village tortilleria for fresh tortillas right off a rickety conveyor belt from an oven that made the little place about 130 degrees. We also stopped at Hacienda Ochil on our way back to Merida. I was gratified to see the narrow gauge rails and the corroding carriages that once carried visitors, workers, henequen leaves, and raw sisal fibers from the fields to the main hacienda and the warehouses where the fibers were processed. I’d seen these things in pictures on the internet, but it was fantastic to see these artifacts up close, with my own eyes.

The last 10 minutes of time with Angel were yet another gift. He knew we were tired (my wife and I are thinly disguised oldsters), but after getting our okay, he drove us, in the mid-afternoon, through incredibly narrow and congested streets near the city’s center, but not the part with the fancy cathedrals and colonial state buildings, but the working class part. The streets teemed like an alive river, with thousands of people going about their hard-working lives: vendors, workers returning to work after siesta, women lugging home groceries for that night’s dinner, and the best part for me — hundreds and hundreds of school children of all ages, just dismissed from their day’s studies, the adolescent ones talking together excitedly and hanging out, and the younger ones holding a parent’s hand while they jostled their way home. Those 10 minutes touched me deeply, seeing that river of life, and glimpsing the hard working and generous hearts of the Yucatecan people.

But wait, there’s more. The miraculous part.

I didn’t come to Progreso or Merida to see the sights. I came to Progreso with faint hopes of finding my long lost paternal grandfather, a Chinaman, who lived for 55 years in Progreso and who passed away there 23 years ago. My family and I found his little flat on Calle 35; we had an address. But we couldn’t find his headstone in the Cementario Generales, despite an afternoon of searching. I gave up hope, except for one last thing to try. Before our first excursion, I asked Angel if he could drive me to the library in town, so I could ask if there was a directory of any sort for the cemetery. Perhaps I might find my grandfather that way. No problem, Angel said. On the way there, he pulled over and picked up his friend, a gregarious man name Pedro M.

Angel and Pedro are aptly named. One is a celestial helper and the other is a saint. Within an hour the two of them guided me to Progreso’s municipal offices, where we found the record of my grandfather’s death and also his last residence, the town’s nursing home. Angel and Pedro helped me secure a certified copy of my abuelo’s death. Not only that, but Pedro also secured the name of the man who helped bring my grandfather to the nursing home when he faltered.

Angel and Pedro then drove me and my family back to Cementario Generales. There, one of the municipality’s managers, whom Pedro miraculously summoned during all this, led us to the necropolis’ western edge, where we found my grandfather’s final resting place. I could hardly speak, I was so surprised and moved. The manager asked me if I would like some flowers. I said yes and looked around towards the outer streets, knowing from our fruitless search the day before, that there were no convenient flower vendors, such as one might find in an American cemetery. The manager simply stepped up on an elevated slab nearby, climbed briefly onto a tree, and plucked 4 beautiful blossoms and gave them to me. They looked like gardenias, and they were lovely, white. For Chinese folks, white is the color of mourning. How did he know?

Later that night, Angel and Pedro introduced us to an open-hearted woman in Progreso whose family is the only one of Chinese heritage in Progreso today. We have the same last name! My grandfather knew her grandfather, we were certain, and likely worked together for a while in Merida’s Chinese Colony.

All this in one day.

Lawson Tours is magic. Lawson Tours provided me and my family with 2 great excursions, and one life-changing, unforgettable journey of the heart that I never expected, and will never forget. To Ralf, Angel, and Pedro — thank you for giving me my abuelo. Gracias por todo, desde mi corazon lleno— thank you for everything, from my full heart!
— via email

Tour was AMAZING!

Octavia and her group, from the Carnival cruise-ship, opted for a private excursion to Uxmal and from her comments, I think she liked it. You be the judge. 

 

An example of the famous "Mayan arch" buried under vegetation, Uxmal, Yucatan

Just wanted to give you a heads-up that our tour was absolutely AMAZING!!! Angel was great! Very informative, accommodating, and funny! José was joy as well :)... Thanks so much for making this experience a memorable one. We had a family group (parents-pushin’ 50 & children- early 20’s) and somehow we ALL managed to have a blast! I will recommend your company, without a doubt. Best wishes with your future endeavors & please give Angel & Jose our warmest regards! :)
— via hotmail

We enjoyed ourselves so much!

Jessica and her family opted for the Chunkanan and Homun cenote excursion on their recent visit off the Carnival cruise ship. Here is what they had to say...

Getting ready to take the horse-drawn rail platform into the Yucatan underbrush to see the Chelentun cenote in Chunkanan

Hi. We enjoyed ourselves so much. It was such a private experience. We didn’t have to share or wait in line. It was great. Thank you so much. Our tour guide Gener, was really great also. He took lots of pictures and was able to beam them to my phone right then and there. I didn’t have to worry about taking pictures. Yay! Thanks again.

Cruise Critic in Progreso - A Taste of Merida!

Chris from Cruise Critic wanted to check out a little of what we do on the Taste of Merida tour, which is perfect for foodies. The Yucatan is famous for it's cuisine which is NOTHING like what regular Mexican food looks like, especially that which is found north of the border. Spanish, French, Lebanese and Mayan culinary influences fashion the unique and delicious delights that make up the gastronomy of this area. Here is Chris' write-up. 

The foodie tours start in Merida with a tour of the Grande Plaza, including the cathedral and Governor’s Palace. It also includes a stop at Sorbeteria Colon, which has been around since 1907. While they have traditional flavors, Ralf recommends that you try coconut, guanabana and other tastes that are more exotic (I’m plotting a stop here later tonight).

We went to the traditional Yucatan restaurant where Ralf brings guests who take the tour. He explained the dishes on the menu, and did the ordering. You can create your own salsa, based on what kind of peppers you like (smoky, spicy, sharp). You can also watch a woman at the restaurant make the corn tortillas by hand. So fresh and yummy when they are done that way.

Contrary to what many people think, Yucatan food itself isn’t spicy. The salsas and condiments that they bring adds the spice. The food in this region also has European influences that you don’t see elsewhere in Mexico, primarily because the Yucatan Peninsula was cut off from the rest of the country. In colonial times, people took their culinary cues from Cuba, the Caribbean and New Orleans instead of Mexico City.

Ralf persuaded me to try Michelada - beer spiced with Worcester sauce, served in a glass rimmed with salt and chilis. Think of it as a Mexican Bloody Mary (and it’s tastier than it sounds). Other dishes we tried included sopa de lima (lime soup), empanada de cazon (shark!), longaniza - a smoked sausage similar to chorizo that you eat in a homemade tortilla - and queso relleno (stuffed cheese). I liked all of it except the last, which seemed a little rich to me.

By the end, I was stuffed. But if you’re a sweets lover, ask Ralf about his wife’s cookies. She’s the Mrs. Field’s of Merida, with a baking business that encompasses several stores (and supplies restaurants too). The company is called Kukis. He gave me a box of sweets to bring home. The office will appreciate them, I’m sure.

In my last post, I didn’t mention the prices. For a family of six, the Mayapan/cenote tour is $87 per person. The Taste of Merida tour is $111. All tours include entry fees, tours of sites with qualified guide, food and drinks, tips to local “helpers”, towels, lifejackets etc. Prices go up with more people, down with fewer.

I’m the type of person who splurges on excursions when I travel (in Europe, Context Travel is my go-to service), and I often hire personal guides, particularly in countries where I don’t speak the language. I tend to ask A LOT of questions (and so does my husband), which can annoy people when we’re on a larger tour. I also hate trips where you end up stopping at a cameo factory or papyrus museum that you have absolutely no interest in, just because the guide or tour company is receiving a kickback. So for someone like us, a personal trip like this, tailored to our interests, is a good value. I always walk away from these type of experiences feeling like I met a friend.
— http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1905471

Cruisers won over, plan to return for extended visit.

Mandy and her all-girls family group entrusted us with their shore excursion this past week and took a whirlwind tour to Uxmal with plenty of interesting stops along the way.

The pyramid of the Magician, from the side, at Uxmal

I just wanted to tell you what an outstanding experience we had on our visit last week- it was truly the perfect day and was even better than promised! I corresponded with Ralf, who considered our interests and helped us plan the perfect tour including a visit to Uman Village, a stop at Yaxcopoil hacienda, a guided tour of the ruins at Uxmal, and swimming in the Peba cenote. We were skeptical that all of the activities could be done in the allotted time, but we were so wrong! Gener picked us up promptly at the terminal in Progreso last Wed morning and showed us a wonderful time. He proved to be friendly, interesting, and well-educated. I really appreciated his Mayan heritage and deep anthropological understanding of the region. Gener’s intimate knowledge of the area created a very personal experience, and he was never short on interesting facts and stories - we felt right at home. The attention to detail was evident - from the refreshments to the order of our itinerary, with each stop building on the previous. Swimming in the cenote was my favorite part, especially after the hot, humid hike on the ruins! My mom mentioned a few traditional Mexican dishes she had researched and wanted to try, and Gener knew the perfect restaurant next to the ocean in Progreso that served all of the dishes! Needless to say, I highly recommend your tour services, and thanks to the hospitality we were shown, I am even planning to return to Progreso soon for an extended visit. We will request Gener again! Thanks again, and best wishes!