Woke up this morning at 5am to the sounds of howler monkeys in the trees. Leah, my roommate while we’re at this hotel, and I got dressed and met everyone in the restaurant area for coffee before heading out on the boat for a canal tour. The hotel owner’s dog, Sasha, a 7 month old Rottweiler, happily greeted us all once we saw her. What a life she must live, a pup in a tropical hotel.
During the 2hr boat ride we saw a great variety of animals and plants. Some were essentially a tropical version of birds I’d recognize back in Ohio, like herons and kingfishers, while others were completely exotic, like toucans and macaws. We even saw howler monkeys, spider monkeys, basilisks, an iguana, and another caiman. As a zoology major, the animals interested me more than the plants, but they were beautiful and diverse all the same.
We have some free time until 1:30 or so, when we’ll have lunch before heading into town for a lecture and talking with local people about sustainability. Until then, most of us are taking naps, catching up on our journaling, or relaxing by the pool.
After lunch, shortly before leaving for town, I went to walk on the paths around the hotels, and found that the monkeys had come back. A whole troop of them, children and all. White-faced capuchins and one lone spider monkey, swinging through the trees.
Despite seeing wild monkeys for the first time, my favorite part of the day was actually getting to walk through the town. I know it was oriented towards tourists, but it was amazing anyways. Dogs, everywhere. Just roaming the streets, in and out of shops, between legs, through crowds. So many trinkets made out of coconut – necklaces, bracelets, bowls. Men chopping coconuts with machetes, or carving turtles out of wood. One woman was carving designs into the side of natural wooden bowls. She enthusiastically welcomed us in her shop, showing us all the masks, bowls, lamp shades, candle holders, and scrapbooks she made. She shared her favorite songs with us, helped us with our limited Spanish, and got to know us a little bit too. I ended up buying a bowl, and she carved my name into it in Spanish – Margarita. I also ended up getting a shirt and some gifts for friends. I can tell my biggest problem when I fly back is fitting all my extra stuff into my carry on.
I actually enjoyed the town more so than the beach – the waves were very rough, the sand black, and palm trees swaying in time with the surf. We made our way to the turtle conservation center to learn about Tortuguero’s work for Hawksbill, Green, Leatherback, and Loggerhead sea turtles (although we didn’t see any).