william lawson

Better than swimming with dolphins...

Some great people all the way from Tuscaloosa spent their cruise ship stop time with us. Here is what they had to say about their experience:

I wanted our kids, ages 15 and 11, to see Mexico for more than the usual cruise shopping stop. Our guide, Pepe, picked us up and took us on the tour of a lifetime. We climbed Mayan ruins, swan in an amazing cenote, ate authentic Mexican food in a family home and toured Pregresso. It was the perfect combination of adventure, culture and education. Kids loved this excursion best of all, even better than swimming with dolphins.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g668864-d7168699-r312421066-Lawson_s_Original_Yucatan_Excursions-Progreso_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#
— TripAdvisor

Most memorable experience...

Paul and his family also came to the area via Carnival and Progreso. Here is their take on the private tour we provided them.

I recently took my girlfriend and her children on a Carnival cruise. We were trying to plan some fun excursions while in Cozumel and Progreso. We looked through the cruise sponsored excursions, and nothing seemed to really jump out. Many of them had some positive reviews, but all of them also had their share of negative reviews. I happened to search Tripadvisor for things to do in the 2 ports, and that’s where I discovered Lawson’s. I knew that we were wanting to snorkel in Cozumel, and honestly I was way more excited about that originally. I thought we would do some amazing snorkeling in Cozumel, and it would be better to do some site seeing in Progreso, and so I clicked on “Things to Do,” and Lawson’s was number 1. Let me just say, it’s number 1 for a reason. While the snorkeling was fun... it didn’t touch our tour in Progreso.

I checked their website, and the photo of Cenote at Sotuta de Peon Hacienda blew me away. I sent an email to Ralf, and he asked what the 5 of us wanted to do while in Progreso. I said that we wanted to see some ruins and we 100% wanted to swim in a cenote. He was very upfront and honest, and told me that our scheduled time in port would not allow us to visit Cenote at Sotuta de Peon Hacienda, but he had some other ideas that would be perfect for us. I gave him free reign to plan our trip.

We left the port and boarded a bus down the 4 mile pier in Progreso. We were dropped off at the bus terminal (not the flea market thankfully), and were immediately greeted with someone holding a sign with my last name. Ralf introduced himself, and our tour guide David and our driver Roberto. And we were off. It was literally just 5 of us on the tour with them. It was OUR personal tour, just the 5 of us in a private van. David took us to a small village to walk around and have some local fruits and see what a typical village and market was like. We got to have some guaya and dragon fruit fresh at the market. The dragon fruit was an unreal neon pink, with small black seeds in the white flesh. We squeezed a little lime on it, dipped it in some chili salt, and enjoyed these local fruits.

After leaving the market, we went to our first planned stop, Mayan ruins. Most of the cruise lines go to Chichen Itza, but over 10,000 people visit that site a day, and no one is allowed to climb on the ruins. Next we passed signs for Dzibulchaltun, but we kept going. Then we saw signs for Uxmal, but again, we kept going. I had heard of these 3 sites during our trip planning, but hadn’t heard of our destination, Mayapan. David told us that it is a smaller, lesser known ruins, but well worth it. We arrived at the site to find a whirlwind of butterflies gathered around a puddle of water. As we walked up to them, they flew around us in a cyclone of yellow and white.

We then walked into the ruins, and had the entire site all to just ourselves. It was literally our ruins to explore. Seriously, there were only 6 people in the entire ruins! David told us about the culture and the temples, as iguanas ran and hid from us at every turn. When we got to the God Temple, David said that we could climb it if we liked. My girlfriend’s youngest son was already a quarter of the way up before he finished his sentence. I decided to join him, and the view was amazing! After spending a good 5-10 minutes on top, it was time to descend the frighteningly steep steps. There were definitely no building codes back then! As we left the site, David provided us some fresh mango to enjoy.

Next was the trip to the cenote. I don’t know the name of the cenote that we visited, nor the village that was nearby. If I ever went back to Progreso and could find that cenote, I could swim in it all day long. We met up with Charlie in the village, and he biked ahead of us with his snorkeling gear to the spot. There was a scuba diver at the cenote, and David apologized for us not having private access to the cenote, but we didn’t mind. The sun streamed down into the cave at just the right angle to illuminate the surface of the water. It was a good 40-50 feet (I think it was that far) from the surface to the water down below. We walked down a wooden staircase built into the wall of the sinkhole and got to a platform at the water’s edge. I didn’t even test the waters, I just dove in. There is about a 20 foot section that is open to the sky above, and then a good 100 foot radius going into and underneath the cave, though the roof of the cave is a good 40-50 feet above your head! As we were swimming, one of the locals jumped in from a landing on the wooden stairs, probably a good 20 foot drop. So we decided that we should participate as well. The 2 boys and myself each took turns jumping from the stone wall into the clear blue waters down below. Finally David said it was time to go. But as we started to leave the waters, the scuba diver’s headlamp started illuminating the water down below us, it was a pretty amazing site. We came up to dry off, and enjoyed some cucumber and jicama for a snack.

I mentioned Charlie because some of the other reviews talked about eating a home-cooked meal at his house. While we wanted to enjoy some local cooked food, we just didn’t have time with our time in port to do so. Maybe next time.

It was a sad 1.5 hour drive back to the pier, knowing that our amazing day in Progreso was over. I honestly couldn’t have conceived of a better way to spend our time in port. That night back on the cruise ship, our fellow table mates at dinner were jealous to hear of our extraordinary excursion, and were a little disappointed that they hadn’t done a little more research to be able to have a similar experience.

I can honestly say that our private excursion was about the same price as most of the other full day excursions offered by Carnival, but ours was just that... ours. It really was one of the best vacation highlights that I have experienced in my life, and I want to thank Ralf, Roberto, and especially David. If we are ever back in Progreso, there isn’t a moment’s hesitation that we won’t book another trip with Lawson’s. 100%. Absolutely.

Perfect.

Visited June 2015

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g668864-d7168699-r285189134-Lawson_s_Original_Yucatan_Excursions-Progreso_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#
— http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g668864-d7168699-r285189134-Lawson_s_Original_Yucatan_Excursions-Progreso_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#

"If you're going to see the Yucatan, see it with Lawson's"

Fran, her husband and another couple were on a major 17 day tour of the entire peninsula. This was their experience.

In Jan. 2015, our party of four took what I guess would be the “grand tour” of Yucatan. I’m interested in the architecture (ancient and colonial) the crafts, the Maya people, the flora, and the history. For 17 days Angel, our guide, and Jose Luis, our driver, accompanied us.
Our itinerary began at Merida, then to Chichen Itza, Valladolid, Tulum, and Campeche, returning to Merida for the flight out. We visited seven archeological sites.
Having our guide and driver enhanced the efficiency and enjoyment of our trip. First, you can see much more within a given time; second, no worries about how you are going to get from one place to another. The whole thing is seamless.
Angel has an in-depth command of English and an exceptionally broad-based knowledge of the topics I was interested in. He can discuss in detail not only the obvious — Mayan history, architectural styles, etc., but also economics, sociology, botany and politics.
He routinely went beyond what was expected. The inevitable misplacing of my husband’s glasses initiated a sprint throughout the entire Uxmal site to locate them (they turned up in the van). If we had a day or afternoon we wanted to ourselves to wander around, he made sure we could contact him instantly if our plans changed by leaving his cell number with hotel reception.
He took us to remarkable out-of-the-way places, exquisite tiny churches, cenotes where only the locals were enjoying a swim, a Merida German/Jewish deli with 20 (I counted them) kinds of pate, the city market where he led us through a small door into a scene that I can best equate with the grand bazaar in Istanbul, a convent where the very air seemed pink from reflections off the rose-painted walls. I wanted to hear Yucatan’s traditional “trio” music, but concerts didn’t coincide with our schedule, so one night on the way back into town, he called up a friend, then stopped just off the grand plaza, led us through walkways, under arcades, and came to a stop in one small shop, where, on one lower shelf, was one three-disc packet of trio music for me to take home. Could I have ever found this on my own?. He recommended several books for further reading. He was conversant with the archeologists/explorers — from Landa to Stephens and Catherwood,the Thompsons, and on — who have worked in Yucatan. All this, plus a tray with terry cloths scented with orange and spice offered by Jose Luis to revive ourselves when we had concluded a hot, humid tour of the ruins.
Of course, we four were all agile, despite our advancing age, and did, in fact, scamper up the ramps at Edzna. But at Coba, while we rested on a bench in the shade, Angel climbed the Nohoch Mul with our cameras, capturing for us the jungle panorama from the top, plus the details of seashells in the limestone blocks on the way down.
Then there was his detailed explanation of the Mayan number system and exactly how one reads the dates on Mayan stelae. This was of especial interest to my husband, who is a mathematician. At my request, he read aloud in Mayan a description on one of the displays at an archaeological site.
My perception is that, as we said our goodbyes at the airport, both Angel and Jose Luis were genuinely sorry to see our adventure come to an end.
Bottom line: If you’re going to see Yucatan, see it with William Lawson.

Visited January 2015
— TripAdvisor

Angel the best, Adriana very helpful

Mia brought her 18 (that's right, eighteen) friends and they enjoyed a private tour on their recent cruise stop at Progreso. Once again, Angel proved to live up to his name.

The magical hidden cenote near Mayapan

We thank you guys for an awesome experience . Angel was the best and so was Joseph and Jorge. We enjoyed our tour, they were very nice to us providing our needs even before we ask for it. The ruins were beautiful and the cenote was magical, the kids had a blast.
It was an experience that we will cherish forever and Angel and the guys made it all possible.
Please give our thanks again to Angel, he was the perfect guide very knowledgeable and very helpful, willing to do everything to make this a special experience for everyone. He even worries about my mother In law who has knee issues, he made sure she has somewhere to seat under the shade at the same time too, not missing out on what she could get from the tour.
We truly appreciate the guys, hopefully we’ll have a chance to go back someday soon. We will surely spread the word about William Lawson tours, highly recommended
— - email -

And Mia's lovely review on TripAdvisor:

“Our Progreso experience with the awesome Angel of William Lawson Tours”

5 of 5 stars

Reviewed September 2, 2014 NEW

Our 2014 family annual vacation for a group of 19 people, 8 teen agers, 8 adults in their mid 40s and three senior citizens 81 y.o, 72 and 71 year old was set for a cruise with Carnival Elation from New Orleans to Cozumel, Mexico and Progreso, Mexico.

The excursion choices for Cozumel was overwhelming because there’s just so much to choose from, but our family decided will do our own snorkeling adventure at Chankanaab National Park. It was a totally different story with the Progreso stop because there were very few choices for excursion and from the reviews they said Progreso is boring.

So I have decided to do some research and found all the good reviews for William Lawson private tours here on TripAdvisor. That was just the start. So I decided to research some more and decided will give them a try. I contacted William Lawson tours and started corresponding with Adriana (who had been so helpful right from the start in deciding what we should do in Progreso) We have decided to tour the Mayapan ruins and swim in a cenote.

August 26, 2014, we arrived in Progreso and got off the boat around 9:12 am , hop on a free shuttle bus to Auto Progreso terminal and there was Angel with my name boldly printed on a board, with his welcoming smile. I was so happy to have gotten him as a tour guide because I have read so many good reviews about him. We boarded our 15 seater van with Angel and our very friendly driver Joseph (they had two vans for our party of 19, the other driver was Jorge ) They have cold drinks, water, soda and native mexican flavored drinks for our 1 1/2 hour travel to the Mayapan ruins. Angel was sharing tons of information with us all throughout our travel, you can very well see his love of his culture and he is very knowledgeable too. We appreciated every little information he was able to share with us and we asked him the silliest questions too and he did not mind that at all.

The Mayapan ruins was more than what I imagined it would be, it was beautiful and serene. It was very peaceful there too (no vendors) it was just our party of 19 and three other tourists. Angel even set up a place for my mother in law to sit under the shades because her knee is bothering her and she can not walk far (That was very thoughtful of Angel) The kids and adults climbed every structure and took tons of photos. Angel was our personal photographer too (among his many talents). We explored the different structures and we also found some iguanas. It was very hot that day (felt like we are inside an oven) and we were all dripping with sweat and on our way back to the vans Joseph and Jorge has prepared some watermelons, bananas, frozen chocolate covered marshmallows and a whole lot of drinks for us thirsty tourist which was so nice after being exposed to the extreme heat.

On the way to the cenote, Angel stopped for some more fresh fruits (what a treat !) Next stop was the highlight of our trip. The cenote, was amazing, magical, breathtaking ...... awesome(from our kids mouths) !!! It was scary to look at, because it was a bottomless sinkhole after all, but as soon as the sun shone on the water, we were in love! and the steep descent did not bother me at all. The water was so refreshing and the kids explored to find hiding places in the cave. And to our surprise after the very refreshing swim, they had food prepared for us again (you are the best Angel !!) pumpkin seed dip for freshly made tortillas, chicharones and native chips. The mayan family that was taking care of the cenote prepared the meal, we were so grateful and appreciative of their hospitality. The kids had a blast, it was awesome food in a very beautiful setting, what more can we ask for. (They also provided life vests, and towels for all of us) I have to mention that the towels smelled lovely ... : )

On our way back to the port, the kids wanted to try authentic mexican tacos and burritos (can’t believe they want to eat some more ... teen agers LOL ) . Angel stopped at El Trompo, the food was really good (loved the beef taco)and nothing like the tacos we have here in the US just beware of the sauces, they are really spicy. Before we enter the port, Angel even bought custard apples for all of us that we devoured in few minutes (so good).

What can I say about Angel of William Lawson Tours ..... he is the best !!! He is not only very knowledgeable as a tour guide, he is kind, thoughtful and provides things even before we ask for it. I highly recommend him and the tour to everyone visiting Progreso. Hopefully we’ll get to visit again some day and explore more with William Lawson tours .

Visited August 2014
— http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g150811-d256079-r226357947-Progreso-Merida_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#REVIEWS

I cannot say a single negative thing!

Here is the happy group INSIDE the taco kitchen with some of the staff!

Jennifer and her fellow cruisers took our food-filled excursion to Merida and Dzibilchaltun, and they loved it! 

I cannot say a single negative thing! We had an absolutely amazing time. David and our driver (I can’t for the life of me remember his name) were so nice and professional. It was the highlight of our trip. I will certainly review you on Trip Advisor. I have already given you rave reviews on all the Carnival groups I follow on Facebook! We look forward to traveling with William Lawson again!!
— - email -

and

I am so impressed with your company. I am a business owner myself and can definitely tell when someone has their act together. I already reviewed you on Trip Advisor. You should be proud of your staff!

Jennifer
— - email -

and the TripAdvisor review:

5 of 5 stars

Reviewed September 2, 2014 NEW

We visited Progreso on the Carnival Elation on Tuesday the 26th of August. After hearing horrible reviews of this stop I began searching the internet for something outside the box to do. I stumbled across William Lawson Tours on the internet and I am so glad I did! I emailed with the company representative and explained a little bit about what we wanted to do. He suggested a tour that meant my wants and I sent a small deposit through Pay Pal and as easy as that we were set up. I received an email a few days before my cruise with complete instructions of where to meet and a map. Our guide and driver where at the meeting place as promised and me and three of my friends began our private tour immediately upon arriving to the port. We were driven in a private air conditioned van to all the places we requested to see. David, our guide told us all about the city and it’s history. We toured Merida, went to the large market, and then saw some ruins AND swam in a cenote! We were then driven safely back to the boat, with plenty of time to do a little bit of shopping and sip a beer! The cost was $130 a person and we felt this was very worth the money. Auto Progresso was offering tours which were cheaper, but you traveled with 30 other people and only offered one of the things we saw. If you want to see it all and do it at your pace, this is the way to go. Our price covered everything including authentic tacos and admission to the ruins. Our guide even paid for a piñata for my daughter because the vendor did not accept $$. This is a wonderful local company, that definitely has their act together. It was by far my best excursion ever and I have been to a lot of ports. Do not count this wonderful port out, you just need the right guide and William Lawson is the way to go.

Visited August 2014
— http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g150811-d256079-r226348855-Progreso-Merida_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

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 -

Exactly what we had hoped for...

Pete and Jim took a private tour from Merida to see Uxmal and the surrounding area. Here is what they had to say...

Hi Mr. Lawson:

We made it back to Wisconsin! We drove home in a snowstorm from Milwaukee and said to ourselves, “We are really going to miss the Yucatan!”.

Thank you so much for being our guide on the Puuc Route and choosing so many wonderful things to see along the way. The tour was exactly what we had hoped for…a little glimpse into the culture and people of the Yucatan, a little history and a LOT of fun! Your knowledge of and sensitivity to the people, culture and environment of the Yucatan clearly was the highlight of our trip.

Jim keeps telling friends and family about swimming in the cenotes and I tell them about the monkeys at the cacao farm and feeding the iguanas those fragrant yellow blossoms at the Uxmal ruins. We also stopped by and tried your wife’s cookies and carrot cake too! It was so very nice to meet you…if you’re ever in Green Bay, we’ll take you on an Original Green Bay Excursion! Deep-fried cheese curds, a tour of the Packer Hall of Fame and a swing up to Door County for a swim at Cave Point!

Take care and thanks again!

Pete & Jim
— - email -

Best excursion... anywhere!

William and his group of 16 arrived via Carnival and we also took them to the Mayapan & cenote tour... here are William's comments:

Thank you so much. It was by far the highlight of our trip and easily one of the best excursions we had been on anywhere. Everyone was very pleased.
— - email -

The view from inside the cenote...

Really enjoyed our trip...

The magical cenote you visit after seeing the Mayan ruins at Mayapan...

Lori and her family came to Progreso on Carnival and we showed them Mayapan and a beautiful cenote. Here's what they had to say:

This is Lori and I just wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed our trip with your company. Angel was a great guide and was very nice. We really enjoyed the mexican fruit that he shared and he was very informative.
— - email -

Angel made sure we were safe!

The Temple of the Magician, Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico - photo by R Hollmann

Bridget came to Progreso on the cruiseship and with 19 (yes, nineteen) of her friends, had us take them all out in two vans to see the sights around Uxmal Here is what they had to say:

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who had a part in making sure our excursion was awesome.

Angel and the drivers were amazing. They made sure we were aware of what was happening step by step. They were very professional, courteous, knowledgeable, and caring. We never crossed the street without Angel making sure we were safe.

Most of all, they were with us the entire time. Our entire family enjoyed the excursion and we all learned so much.
— - email -

Angel did an Amazing Job!

Ken and Sue allowed me to post their review of their recent trip to the area, where they visited Uxmal with everyone's favorite guide, Angel. Read on...

Upon disembarking with the first group from the cruise ship, we were able to immediately board a bus to take us to the bus terminal in Progresso. Unfortunately, we waited on that bus for more than 45 minutes before it finally left for town. It was waiting till it was full with passengers before leaving. If we had known this information a head of time, we probably would have requested a taxi so we could have started our tour faster. When the bus entered the terminal, Angel was waiting for us so we didn’t have to waste any time trying to locate him, which we appreciated. Angel was very personable and knowledgeable. We appreciated that he shared with us many details of life in Progresso and the surrounding villages. Our main goal was to see the Mayan Ruins at Uxmal so we elected to drive around the tiny town square filled with market/vendors, but not shop so we could spend more time at the ruins. Fortunately we did that since we could have easily spent more time touring Uxmal.

Angel did an amazing job of explaining what we were seeing at Uxmal and has a fantastic grasp of the English language. He definitely gave us insight into the people that once lived here that we wouldn’t have acquired by just walking through the park. Even with the information signs being printed in English we would have missed so many details that Angel was able to share with us. We were disappointed that we ran out of time during the tour so we couldn’t climb the one pyramid at the back of the park. Wish we could have stayed another couple of hours! We were very impressed with this National Park and it’s cleanliness. Your country has done an outstanding job of preserving these awesome ruins with so much history.

We were shocked that your company used a large passenger van just for us. It would have been fine with us to share this tour with another couple or two, while maybe lowering the tour price. What a pleasant surprise to be dropped off at the shipping port since we thought we were going to have to catch the bus a second time to get back to the boat.

Thank you for an incredible experience in your country. We would definitely recommend your company to any friends or family traveling to Progresso.

Ken and Sue Hayes
Arkansas, USA
— - 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 -

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

We absolutely loved all of it!

Carol from Texas and her hubby Steve took a private tour when they sailed in last month on the Carnival cruise ship. The two of them went to Uxmal and also did part of the Yaxcopoil hacienda experience, complete with a totally private cenote! Here's what they had to say: 

Thank you again for designing our tour for us. We absolutely loved all of it. We enjoyed the unique feel to the tour and thought that our guide (Gener) and driver (Jorge) were excellent. It was very nice of everyone to surprise Steve with a “birthday tortilla”. We appreciate everything and will recommend your company to others. I have already recommended you to someone on the ship that is a frequent cruiser.



I hope we get a chance to do it again.



Carol

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

David was an excellent guide!

Kristen and her "boat people" from the Carnival ship in Progreso recently visited Uxmal and stopped at the Hacienda Ochil for a bite of real Yucatecan food. Here's what Kristen had to say. 

Meeting Gonzalo and David in Progreso

Meeting Gonzalo and David in Progreso

Yes we all had a wonderful time. David was an excellent guide and we had a lot of fun. The best and biggest surprise were the cold peppermint towels after our stops! It was just so perfect and welcome.



I will of course endorse you and should we ever return we will call again.



Thank you.

Kristen
At the Hacienda San Pedro Ochil, Yucatan

At the Hacienda San Pedro Ochil, Yucatan