Friday, September 4, 2009

You'd Better Belize it, Part Deux!

On to Monkey River! Our 3rd day in Placencia took us to a tour of Monkey River, and Monkey River Town. To get there, we boarded a teeny tiny boat with four other people, and sped across the (thankfully) very still ocean waters. Seriously, that morning, the water was so still it felt like a Stephen Kind book. After some time we came to the mangroves, which were maze like and so unlike any other vegetation I've ever seen. How many trees actually live in salt water? We wound our way through, the boat driver telling us how this was actually a quick, safe way for people to keep between Placencia and Monkey River, since its waters are more calm and protected, and the roads are so incredibly bad in Belize.

We finally made it to the mouth of the Monkey River, and there it was - Monkey River Town! I think the current population is maybe 80 (don't quote me on that), but it used to be even more populous than Placencia. A banana blight destroyed the plantations, and forced everyone to move away to Placencia.

It was here we picked up our guide, Percy, aka. Rambo, made out lunch order at Alice's restaurant, and headed back up the river. Rambo was a great guide, friendly and incredibly knowledgeable, and told us about a million plants in the jungle that could either kill you, save your life or help you out with that nasty bed wetting problem.

After seeing iguanas, alligators, bats, and numerous birds we found Howler Monkeys. Percy got them riled up by walking around under their tree and making a ruckus. The dominate male put on quite a poo and pee show to let us know who was boss around here.

We traveled a little further up the river, then landed the boat, and took a walk through the jungle. Covered in bug spray saw more amazing plants, ate a delicious fruit, drank from the water vine and ate real live termites! They tasted grassy and minty, and were so small you didn't really notice you were eating live bugs. We also came across the giant blue crab who makes holes all over the place, and would probably be happy to eat your toes.

After the trip through the jungle, we headed back down the river, stopping to eat some sugar cane, getting rained on in the rain forest. Back at Monkey River Town, we had lunch. Let me tell you people, Belizean stew chicken with rice and beans is ridiculously good. I'm planning on ordering the spice they use, Recado or Recardo, to try it out myself. After lunch, Rambo took us on a tour of the village - which is going to get electricity soon, showing us where everyone sheltered in a 2002 hurricane, the school and the structures they built to curtail the shore erosion.

On the way back to Placencia, we stopped to spot manatees, which we did. Mostly it was their snouts popping up for air, and their tails flipping back under the water, but cool nonetheless.

Next up, we hike to a waterfall, tube down a river, visit a ruin and I almost drown! Just regular honeymoon, really. Now, for your viewing pleasure, a real, live jungle chicken...or iguana.

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