Belize Wedding Day 9: Monkeys

Sam and Ryan who are in charge of guest relations came by to talk about the things we’d told them we wanted to do the night before to solidify plans. We wanted to go ziplining, Pam wanted to swim with dolphins, I wanted to go sailing on a day cruise, and scuba diving. And all of these things needed to be weighed against the time we have left and the damn cruise ships! It was decided today we’d go ziplining and perhaps do a bit of hiking, Jenn and I would dive tomorrow and Pam would go swim with dolphins and go on an Eco Snorkel trip. Then Sunday we’d all go out to the east of the island and sail on a catamaran for the day (which in my mind I’m hoping for some short watered down version of what we did in Turkey). Ryan brought me something that sounded more like a booze cruise for Sunday so I contacted the excursion I wanted to do directly. The prices were a bit high, but it sounded more in line with what I wanted and we’re here. The only way to reserve a spot though is to pay up front via paypal, and internet is sketchy in the house to say the least. All decided we hopped in a van to Gumbalimba Resort for the zipline and monkey walk.

The roads in Roatan remind me so much of those in St. Lucia, they’re twist and dive, and run up and down very steep inclines. Diesel minibuses are a favorite, and everyone positively hustles them.

We stop at the top of one of these hills and jump out at the start of the zip line run where we’re given release forms, gear, and instructions before setting out. There are a lot of guides for the group, and they’re characters as I guess they need to be, they’re entertainers of a sort. The lines are excellent and are about as good as the one I did with my family in Costa Rica, and much better than the one we’d done in Belize. The whole system drops over 500ft and travels 2.5 miles all the way down to the coast.

Where Belize often feels thrown together, Roatan is often very polished when it comes to the resorts, though often to the point of Disneyland fakery. Gumbalimba is very much one of these places and a lot of the “tour” has us looping back to the resort and its giftshop and restaurant. Before we can start the monkey walk we’re taken through a fake pirate cave. However all through the grounds are interesting creatures from massive iguanas of different types and ages, but also interesting birds and those little lizards that run on water. The highlight is the monkeys which aren’t kept caged, but have been socialized to come down to trainers that have little treats. They build houses for them, but the monkeys don’t care and as soon as the tourists are done for the day they split. The macaws are a bit of a different story, they’re mostly kept in cages, but those that they trust, are let out to fly around and get a treat if they come down and sit on tourist shoulders. When we started out today I didn’t really like the idea of coming to the “park” to see these animals pulled out of their local environment to interact with tourists, but there is something slightly less horrible about them having the freedom to come and go. Domesticated to some degree, but more free than the dogs we keep at home.

By the time we finish with our walk, we’re starving, and grab a bite to eat before our bus is ready, just some chicken fingers and what not. I’m really wanting some street food and not this Americanized stuff so I hold off. The restaurant at Gumbalimba is under a giant concrete canopy, and the highest point a good 30 ft above us is filled with bats of some sort. It’s kind of unusual having them so close, but it doesn’t bother me.

From Gumbalimba we leave not for West Bay where we’re staying, but West End, an area that has a town, though touristy and a nice beach. From there we’re able to catch a water taxi back to West Bay and home for the night, but first we can see the town. It’s warm and sunny, and I’m hungry. First I need some money though, I find a store and exchange $20 US into roughly 400 Honduran Lempiras and buy a pineapple juice that hits the spot. Cold and sweet. Next I find a guy making tacos, the price is high for locals, but still it’s a tasty small meal to hold me over for our epic dinner tonight.

Jose and Roger look for Cubans to smoke tonight, while the girls look for gifts to take home with them. It was happy to just relax with no needs to fill. West End though is small, and it doesn’t take us long to exhaust our interest and hop on a water taxi over to West Bay.

In West Bay we checked in with the rental place regarding our plans for tomorrow and diving and then over to the dive shop to get our gear sorted out before they closed for the evening. We’re ready to go and just need to show up and suit up. Having our own wetsuits and knowing how much weight we need from our dive logs makes this whole process a ton faster. No need to try on a wetsuit or guess at the weighting.

At the house we didn’t have too long to wait until Blackey showed up with her daughter and husband with half of dinner cooked, and the other half ready to go in the oven. Our stove has a hard time getting hot enough; I’m guessing its propane. She worked through the trouble of our rental kitchen and produced an amazing meal of lobster tail, coconut shrimp, and sides.

For the rest of the night we digested our dinner and watched Unbroken on bootleg DVD left by a previous tenant.

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