The first thing you notice when waking up in the port in Roatan, is the huge abandoned ship which has rusted over and partially sunken into the bed of the ocean. It looks like something out of a movie set, like it had been placed there for tourists to get a kick out of. Upon exiting the ship at the port in Roatan, everything seemed like a big party. There were islanders banging on drums and dancing around to the tribal grooves, pulling in tourists to dance with them. They danced like they were conjuring up spirits, or ridding their bodies of evil forces. On this day, we enjoyed our excursion along with my friend Kristin, her mom Jackie, Jackie's friend Cheryl, and Kristin's boyfriend David. We found our tour bus shortly after watching the dancing fiasco.
We were greeted by our tour guide, Joy. She was very funny and knowledgable about the island. The first thing she mentioned was the abandoned ship that we saw earlier, and informed us that it was actually a Carnival Cruise Ship that never made it back home. After she scared the wits out of all the bus passengers, she relieved us with "JUST KIDDING GUYS!" and proceeded to tell us the real history behind the ship. It was actually a cargo ship that got pushed into the bay and sunk during Hurricane Mitch in the 90s. As we zipped through the narrow twisting and turning roads of the island, Joy also told us that there were no speed limits in Honduras, and that STOP signs are merely suggestions. That put us all at ease as well! These tour guides really like to keep you on your toes!
We also learned some pretty interesting information pertaining to the lifestyle here. Teachers actually make more than doctors, and the highest paying salary you can get in Honduras is about $200 a month flat rate, no overtime. She also pointed out the colorful houses throughout the island and informed us that instead of delivering the mail according to house number, they deliver it according to the color combinations. No two houses have the same roof and house color combination. I also noticed many little Coca-Cola and Pepsi stands on the island. We must have driven by at least 20 of them.
She also talked about some of the wildlife here including the Rabbit of Roatan, which she made clear was not like the cute little white fluffy tailed hippity hoppity creatures that we were used to back home in the states. She referred to the rabbits of the island here as "Rabbits on Steroids", and then said, "You'll See". GREAT!! We soon arrived at Gumbalimba Park which was named after the Gumbalimba Tree. We ventured to Gumbalimba to explore various tropical wildlife such as parrots and capuchin monkeys. Before we could see these beautiful animals, we had to experience a little adventure first!
There was a replica cave dedicated to Pirate Captain John Coxen which we walked through for a short tour. Being that this was a man made cave, I was not expecting it to be inhabited by low flying fruit bats. I had to scream and duck for cover at least twice, giving the less skiddish quite the laugh. We learned a bit about Captain John Coxen here, who was a pirate infamously known for raiding the Gulf of Honduras. He also had an eyepatch and a hook on his hand, which legend has it, a mosquito was flying around his face, and forgetting that he had a hook for a hand, swatted the bug out of the way, and in turn, gauging out his eye. I am not sure how entirely true this legend is, I can't seem to find much about this guy on the internet referring to his hooked hand, patched eye, or pegged leg.
After the cave replica, we proceeded across a suspension bridge which stretched out across a murky river filled with turtles. I think we had the most fun on here, and I had flashbacks to my favorite scene in Indiana Jone's "Temple of Doom". We took our time walking across, as it didn't take much for the bridge to start swinging. We finally made it across and didn't realize that Joy was already waiting for us on the other side. There was an alternate, much faster route called "The Chicken Path" for those who were too nervous to cross the suspension bridge. She led us to an area with beautiful Amazon parrots and McCaws resting freely amongst the trees. There was a bird trainer also holding a Green Amazon parrot, allowing people to take their pictures with them. Everyone in our group had lots of fun with this. I allowed the heavy bird to sit on my left shoulder as it squawked ever so loudly in my ear. I've owned birds before, little cockatiels, but this was horse…errr… bird of a different color.
After we had fun with the crazy birds, Joy regrouped us and kind of reminded us about the rules and regulations when dealing with the monkeys. We had bought a locker so I didn't have to bring in any of the bags, because apparently these little guys are quite the pick pocketers! We were also instructed to leave our water bottles on the benches off to the side while we played with the monkeys. On the way into the monkey reserve, we heard rustling in the bushes. All of the sudden there were these two crazy guinea pig looking animals who were running at at least 25 miles an hour after each other, not even acknowledging the humans in their path. These were the Steroid Bunnies as Joy liked to call them. They really minded their own, but crazy they were indeed!
The experience with the monkeys definitely was not long enough. I really wish I could have spent my whole time at this park, in this section. There were also about 30 other people in this section at one time, so your time with your monkey, IF they even came over to you, was pretty abrupt. The monkeys were allowed to roam here freely, jumping on whoever they deemed interesting at any given moment. There were cute little baby ones and larger adult ones all mixed together. I had some time with about two different monkeys for a few minutes each. They would sit on my shoulder, and climb on my head, resting their human like little fingers on my forehead. The personality they all have is hilarious, and it's crazy how intelligent they are. So intelligent in fact that one of them saw our water bottle over on the bench and must have mistaken it for a toilet bowl because it decided to spray feces all over it! GROSS INDEED! We definitely chucked that right way!
On the way back to the park's entrance area we stopped at an Insectarium and bug museum which was just a little shack containing thousands of dried species of bugs in glass display cases. There were literally thousands of moths, beetles, roaches, butterflies, filling up each wall with their scientific names next to each. After we were done here it was time to head back to the main area to wait for our bus and collect some souvenirs. I bought a cute pair of monkey earrings made from the wood of a coconut tree, a bracelet, and a couple pocket knives in resin cases made from mahogany trees, all from a nice merchant lady. We then were picked up by our shuttle van that was more than scary, twisting and turning once more through the hills of Roatan as it rushed us back to the port to meet our ship. Every day on this trip, was one adventure after the next!
Photo Credits - Avinash Patel
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