Friday, July 18, 2014

Monkeys? La La!

Tropical Flower
There’s more to do in Roatan than just diving. On one of the days we didn’t spend underwater, we explored the area including Gumbalimba Park. The park has spectacular flowers, a nice area to sit with a cold drink, a cave with historical relics, and tropical animals. You can get to the park by walking in, hiring a taxi, or you can zip in. We chose the latter.

Once we got to South Shore Zip-Line Adventures, we found we were all too old for the ride. However, with a bit of discussion we convinced the owner that we were all in good shape and wouldn’t do anything
Clockwise from upper left: David, Andi, Steve, Cynthia
stupid (or at least act Near-Normal). He did admit that they had strapped a 90 year old woman in with one of the guys and taken her down the zip line; she’d had the ride of her life! We had a great time, too. The trick is not to slow down too soon or you have to use one of the overhead ropes to drag yourself along. Besides, slowing down isn’t nearly as much fun a barreling along screaming ‘Whee’ at the top of your lungs. Some of the staff were adept at hanging upside down from their zip-lines, but since none of us were quite that good we stayed upright. A couple more practice runs and I’d be willing to give upside down zipping a try! There are 16 levels, so it’s quite a trip from the top of the canopy to the final stop at Gumbalimba Park.

Octopus Snack Bar
After we got out of our gear and had a drink at the octopus snack bar, we were ready to go with our guide to see the rest of the park. He showed us a huge array of tropical flowers with their assorted hummingbirds sipping the nectar, several giant fichus trees and palms with edible nuts. On our way to the pirate cave we encountered critters wandering loose in the park that inspired images of dragons: iguanas. Some were sleeping in trees while others sunned themselves on rocks or looked for insects in the grass; all were quite large and too aloof to notice us. In the pirate cave we learned some local history and posed with the pirate. However, the best was yet to come. This park is also home to
parrots. Several of the birds like the tourists and will come without prompting to sit on shoulders and arms. Although they have giant, lethal-looking beaks, they are gentle and enjoy being talked to and gently rubbed. These birds are well mannered and don’t steal glasses, hats or earrings. The monkeys aren’t quite that genteel.

Left to Right: Steve and David with Macaws
The monkeys have to be socialized before they are allowed to interact with the tourists. The
Cynthia and Andi with 'friends'
socialization also serves another purpose; when the monkeys need medical attention, they are more willing to let a veterinarian touch them than the monkeys who are not socialized. Even when they are released to play with humans, monkeys do like hats, sunglasses, earrings, and anything else that attracts their attention. Once they have a treasure, it may be several hours before you get it back and it may not be in the same condition as it was when they first got it. One of the monkeys had just had a baby and our guide said that she probably wouldn’t want to interact with us. However, she immediately decided that she liked Andi and spent a great deal of time on her shoulder grooming her hair. Several others came to crawl on the humans, get treats from the guide, pose for pictures and generally be sociable. Once you decided you’d had enough interactions, all you had to do was stand close to a tree. The monkeys happily scampered back into their habitats.

Towel person and rabbit
The nightlife on Roatan is somewhat like that anywhere. There are plenty of restaurants, both on and off the beach, lots of bars and dancing, and a clean, air conditioned rooms with a towel character to greet you every day. But one thing we don’t see much of in Texas is fire performers. One couple danced on the shore with lighted batons and a variety of containers holding flaming oil. Using different containers allowed them to create an assortment of shapes and designs that kept their audience entertained. In one part of their act, they set a bit of the ocean on fire, dancing in it. Their daughter, obviously training to perform with fire once she was older, twirled light sticks on strings around her body as she danced.
Fire Dancers
Of course one of the best things about a tropical island is relaxing. We spent a lot of time on our
David, Cynthia, Steve, Andi
front porch reading, chatting, watching the ocean, sometimes with beer or a
Monkey La La and other times just enjoying spectacular sunsets. The islands call to us every year although we don’t get to enjoy that environment as much as we’d like. And we always wonder if living there would be as wonderful as just visiting.


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