Tag Archives: Monkeys

Jaguary January

I’ve been having a really, really fantastic time here in Guatemala. The places I’ve been and the people I’ve met are some of the coolest. From Semuc Champey to Lake Atitlan, the locations have been top-notch. My fellow volunteers and housemates are amongst the broadest range of personalities I’ve come across in one place. I’ve been receiving lots of positive feedback from kind strangers all over the world, especially from Nic’s family.

Two new volunteers entered my house. Their names are Alex (Toronto, Canada) and Luke (Perth, Australia). Alex is here doing childcare and Luke will be teaching alongside me. As a matter of fact, there is now a total of seven teachers! Too many if you ask me but we had to make it work. Which meant I gave up my younger classes to the newbies while I kept the older class. The younger classes initially didn’t like me leaving them, but they quickly warmed up to the newer teachers.

I reluctantly let the new teachers take over my original group of younger students, but I would still be around to see them all the time!

We all went out the next night to Monoloco for ladies night. Since Carly was gone, we now had Alex to sneak us cheap drinks! As usual whenever we go to Monoloco, we have a great time!

IMG_7569
Luke, Alex, Tim, Sarah
Luke, Hanni, Me, Lucinda, Deirdre
Luke, Hanni, Me, Lucinda, Deirdre

IMG_7694

Maximo was hosting a fundraiser at a restaurant called Kafka for one of the organizations they support. I bought ten raffle tickets for 100 quetzales to help benefit the proceeds. Some of the prizes were decent: free spanish classes, a gift card to Monoloco, bottles of wine, stuff like that. I won the prize that I definitely didn’t need nor want: a haircut and a shampoo massage. I just got a haircut yesterday! Bad timing on my part. Nic has been saying how much he needed a haircut here so I passed him my voucher to use. I would never have used that thing.


Auto Safari

The weekends are opportunities for me to take trips somewhere in Guatemala. Hanni has been my partner in crime when it comes to weekend excursions so we thought of some places. She suggested hot springs or nearby ruins. I wasn’t too keen on either. She then suggested an auto safari. A safari here in Guatemala? I was skeptical, but thats what we decided on. I checked on the internet and apparently there was a zoo about an hour away we could check out. Ever since I’ve been to the Serengeti three years ago, anything else afterwards related to zoos or animals have been ruined for me. I kept my expectations low. So did Hanni. We rode with a family to the zoo in Somewhere Land and were dropped off but were told to be back at the gate by five. It was only 1:30 so we had plenty of time. We began our walk and saw big elephant rat things.

IMG_7687

I don’t know what they were called but they were weird looking. We entered the main complex and began to roam around. We saw a cage full of capuchin monkeys where I decided I wanted to play with them. Hanni and I went around the wooden fence and I found a stick. I used that stick to sweep chunks of fruit from underneath the cage to give to the monkeys. I just wanted to touch the monkeys hand. Thankfully there wasn’t any security around watching us.

IMG_7688

I was actually surprised with all the animals the zoo had. There were peacocks free-ranging about when all of a sudden we saw a couple with its iconic feathers fluttered about.

IMG_7679

We saw snake cats and rabbit rats. To be honest, I had no idea what these animals were and their descriptions were in Spanish. There were these creepy owls who stared at me as their heads lightly swayed back and forth.

IMG_7689

Then there was this basilisk lizard, native to Central America, that could run across the water! It´s also called the ¨Jesus Christ¨ lizard for that reason!

IMG_7680

For me, the jewel of the whole zoo was the jaguar, my most favorite animal! I know everything about them!

The jaguar is my favorite animal of the world!
The jaguar is my favorite animal of the world!

They’re the third biggest natural cat in the world with the strongest jaw of any big cat. One of the primary differences between a leopard and a jaguar is that the jaguar has a rosette pattern instead of solid spots. The jaguars here were constantly pacing back and forth in their enclosure which meant they were uneasy.

IMG_7690

The highlight of the day came from a curious little monkey swinging above Hanni and I.

IMG_7681

At first we paid no attention to it, as it swung branch to branch above us. All of a sudden Hanni let out a loud shriek!

“Whats wrong??” I asked.

“That monkey just squirted juice out of it’s butt!” she said with a disgusted look on her face.

It nearly got on her. I busted out laughing! There was another baby monkey following us on trees nearby. We stopped to watch it as it climbed closer and closer to us.

IMG_7682

IMG_7683

We stood there as it bared its tiny teeth at us. Suddenly the little monkey swung to the ground and landed just a couple feet in front of us, staring straight at us. Hanni and I froze. We didn’t expect the monkey to come up to us so close. We slowly inched backwards when the monkey briefly looked away. We then sped walked in the opposite direction. I looked back to see if it was following us and it wasn’t. That was the most nerve wrecking moment of the day. The moment Hanni and I thought we were going to be attacked by a itty bitty baby monkey! We saw on our map that there was a larger area harboring larger animals. This was the ‘auto safari’ part. We hopped in a van with a driver and drove around the outskirts of the park. The animals were much bigger here: giraffes, hippos, zebras, and even lions.

IMG_7684

IMG_7693

IMG_7685

The auto safari was good enough to keep our interests but I wouldn’t recommend it to people traveling to Guatemala. There are far more unique things to see and do in this country…like hiking up Volcan Acatenango, which I am doing next!

Advertisements

Fermented Grapes and Fuzzy Apes

Great news! My iPod has rose from the dead! It got soaked while rafting in Pai (don’t mind why I brought an expensive electronic on a white water raft) and wouldn’t turn on. I’ve kept it ever since though, with the small glimmer of hope that it would work again. I nonchalantly put it on the charger and like magic, it turned on! I had some feel good songs to reacquaint myself with.

Anyways, today Isaac planned on picking Chris and I up and taking us to Lord knows where. But first we had to run into Stellenbosch and pick up a few supplies, including postcards to send to most of the people who donated to our campaign for the kids. Us and the kids are in the process of writing messages on them all now so expect a postcard in a few weeks, I would imagine. After running around town, Isaac picked us up from the minibus station around noon and took us to Franschoek. Franschoek is essentially a wine country neighboring Stellenbosch. He took us to The House of J.C. LeROUX, a facility known for processing champagne and sparkling wines. Let’s do some tasting!

20130921-095427.jpg

20130921-095441.jpg

I’m not a fan of champagne really, but the champagne offered here was probably the best I’ve ever tasted. We had five glasses of different champagnes, including an extra sixth one that Isaac was able to smooth talk the staff into giving us for no extra charge. Each glass was paired with a candy or chocolate of some sort. I love candy, but I came to find that I don’t like eating candy and drinking champagne at the same time. It’s just…weird. At least to me. Also, I don’t really care for higher end, upscale candies and chocolates. I’ll take a Reese’s or Twix over fancy schmancy chocolates any day!

20130921-105000.jpg

20130921-105019.jpg

20130921-095325.jpg

We had no idea where we were going next, but Isaac took us to another vineyard, this time to Deheims Winery, a facility started by a German wine enthusiast. Here, they specialized in port wines, which are traditionally a lot sweeter than your norms. The layout of the winery was identical to an old cellar. There were even cobwebs that were purposely left in the windows to show how old this place was. Old wine means good wine so we were up for it!

20130921-104951.jpg

First we tried a few ports. They weren’t too bad. Next the host gave us tastings of different Pinot Noirs and Merlots. I prefer smooth wines over most and these wines were as smooth as can be. They were so great that I bought two of them on the spot and had them shipped back home! I bought another for myself for later. The wine I bought is called Ansela van de Caab and is grown and produced by Muratie. Muratie actually names each varietal of their wines after a member of the family. Ansela has the prestigious distinction of being paired with the flagship wine of the company. We tried a few different glasses, and each glass was paired with more chocolates. I still didn’t like eating chocolates and drinking wine together in my mouth but the chocolates by themselves were alright.

One of the best things about enjoying wine, champagne, and the likes is that it gets me super hungry. Same with Chris. Actually, it might just be because we didn’t really eat anything substantial this morning for breakfast; just a cinnabon. Isaac took us to Gino’s, a pizza place, nearby in Stellenbosch. This was my first time here but Chris has been here numerous times before. I ordered a delicious pasta that did the trick.

Chris has always said that on this trip, one of the things he wanted to do the most was hold and play with monkeys. Isaac knew a place nearby where that could happen called “Monkey Town” that neither of us ever knew existed! We made a quick drive and arrived to our destination. This place was similar to Monkey Land except on a much smaller scale and not as many monkeys. But, more importantly, Chris and I were able to have a monkey encounter!

20130921-095344.jpg

20130921-095459.jpg

20130921-095335.jpg

The monkeys we interacted with were a few squirrel monkeys, a wolf monkey, and a very timid ring-tailed Lemur named King Julian. I think this is the third lemur I’ve met named King Julian. The squirrel monkeys were pretty playful and would leap around on our shoulders, heads, laps, arms, and anything they could to reach the peanuts and cheetos we had in our hands for them. I could never get enough of their tiny human-like hands lifting each of our individual fingers one by one, to try and find something to eat. I tried my best to get King Julian to socialize with us but he was too shy. I did manage to get him to take some food out of my hand though. Before we knew it, our time limit was up and we were encouraged to go around Monkey Town and see all the other monkeys that were in an enclosure. The other monkeys included capuchin, tamarin, owl, and spider monkeys. There were also parrots and meerkats around, and also a caracal which I really wanted to play with really bad!

20130921-105027.jpg

20130921-095401.jpg

20130921-095414.jpg

It’s great to have a local friend like Isaac who can take us around and show us places that a lot of tourists don’t go to. Although I don’t consider myself a tourist at all here in South Africa, I practically live here! I don’t think I really thought about what exactly we were going to be doing today – all I knew was whatever we would be doing, it would be a good time.

And there was no better way to spend the day than drinking tons of wine and playing with monkeys. 🙂

20130921-104942.jpg