Villas del Tordo, Barra del Tordo, Tamaulipas, Close To Texas Border

Villas del Tordo is a real hidden jewel on the Mexican Gulf Coast, not too far from Tampico (Aldama & Barra del Tordo), Tamaulipas with the  deepest cenote in the world (1138 Feet), El Zacatón.

The depth of El Zacatón cenote has finally been determined to be 1138 feet or 350 meters. This was achieved May 28, 2007 by the NASA robot, DEPTHX, which was designed to probe Jupiter. Previously, the depth determined by divers from the University of Texas, Jim Bowden and Sheck Exley to be 281.94 meters or 925 feet. Mr. Exley died on the dive.

Quick! This is a quiz. Where can you:
* find the deepest cenote (sacred natural pool) in the world (El Zacaton)? 
* one of the greatest birding locations in northern Mexico? 
* find an unspoiled beach, hours from Texas? 
* visit the nesting areas of the endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles (Rancho Nuevo)? 
* dive in an unknown reef without the crowds you find everywhere else in Mexico? 
* catch snook, negrilla, red fish, flounder, grouper and freshwater bass in the same day? 

El Zacaton cenote, 1138 feet deep near Aldama, Tamaulipas

If you answered Barra del Tordo, Tamaulipas, you are among the few who know about this hidden jewel on Mexico's Tamaulipas Gulf Coast. If not, time's a'wasting! Get to Barra del Tordo before it, too, is over-developed to death. The lodge, Villas del Tordo is an excellent place to stay and is quiet and well-appointed.

There are hundreds of varieties of birds, an unspoiled beach minutes away by boat, and great fishing. I've always believed that this is one of the very special spots in Mexico. For a unique getaway, and the chance to experience nature at its most peaceful, check it out. Birders will love it. Romantic couples will too. Fishermen, heck, they like anywhere if the fish are biting, and they usually do here, both river, surf and deep-sea. Divers will love the undiscovered reef offshore (best in the Fall and Spring).  

I've been to this out-of-the-way spot more times than I can count. El Paraiso across the river used to be my favorite spot, but it is now a real estate development with high-priced rooms. Villas del Tordo is a reasonably-priced hotel with villas that is my new favorite. Their web site has pictures and prices. It is a special place for those looking for a retreat from the bustling world. If you want to get away from the Texas heat in the summer, it is always cooler at Barra del Tordo than in Texas. If you want to get away from the cold in winter, the weather is about the same as the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, perhaps 5 degrees warmer. Tell the owners you heard about their resort from "Mexico" Mike's web page. I'd appreciate it.

To get to Villas del Tordo and Barra del Tordo, drive down Hwy 97 or 101 to Hwy 180 and keep going south towards Tampico. At Aldama, you take a left and head towards Barra del Tordo. There are plenty of signs directing you to Villas del Tordo. The food, rooms and beds are excellent.

Should Villas del Tordo be out of your price range, there is a very basic fisherman's hotel in the town. I have stayed there and, while it won't wow anyone with the amenities, it is clean. And cheap. Getting food is always a challenge, but someone will direct you to someone's house who sells meals.

If you take a boat ride, as the outboard motor drones, you can watch eagles, egrets, hawks and parrots overhead and on the banks. Ducks abound in the winter. Birders will find this a perfect spot catch glimpses of over 200 species of land and waterfowl. The rest of us will be glad to observe the flocks of wild parrots that wing their way over the resort twice a day on their daily commute.

They have boat rides down lagoons for catching glimpses of dozens of species of birds. Farther down river, you come to the Gulf and miles and miles of truly deserted beaches. Imagine you and your sweetie frolicking on fine white sand with miles of pounding surf and driftwood your only companions. The endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles use the area to nest, up the coast a ways.

Not too far away, back towards Aldama, to the west, is El Zacatón, the deepest cenote in the earth and a sulfur spring. They are on private property, so ask at the hotel for someone to show it to you. The water is as clear and turquoise as any cenote I've seen in the Yucatan. There are several "islands" of reeds and plants floating in the lake. It's quite eerie to watch them float from one end of the cenote to the other, propelled by nothing more than the wind - or is there a creature below? Dive in and find out.

There are two warm (not hot) pools and a cave close by. Local residents swear the sulfur pools clear the skin and reduce signs of aging and are good for psoriasis.