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Sunday, October 23, 2011

A BETTER DAY

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I got my wish for a better day today. We got to get up leisurely and be out by 7:30 when they serve breakfast, the Abelardo said we would meet around 9 to head for monkey island. Another family was with us, but they were just here for the morning—he is one of the owners/administrators of Explorama.
I figured we'd be seeing monkeys in trees like we do in the wild, but when we got there, we were greeted by several who climbed up on us and wanted to play. They also like to lick our skin for the salt, which was plentiful since it was already hot and humid and I was sweating profusely. My hair hates this weather...as does the rest of me.
Anyway, we had a great day seeing about 7 or 8 types of monkeys, some who came over to us or took bananas from us, and some who just stayed in the trees, but came fairly close to get food. They're all ages, and most are rescued from people who had them as pets and gave them up or were found and needed attention. They're used to people and love the attention. As we were heading to the hut for a little talk by Abelardo about the kinds of monkeys there and what the company does for them, one grabbed my hands, climbed up into my arms and ended up lying across my right forearm. He posed for a picture, then wrapped his tail around my neck and stayed. We had to convince him he had to stay outside when I went in....  We have great pictures, but they won't load here since it takes so long, but I'll add them if the Ramada on our last night is ANY faster. 
  I loved being there. They also have chickens, one with some new chicks, and a macaw and a dog running around. The people who work there love what they do, and we met a woman from New York who is volunteering there for a week. She's the first female we've seen working in the Amazon...
  We returned here to Ceiba Tops for lunch, and will have a boat trip this afternoon. We were supposed to go to an inlet to fish and see dolphins today, but the water is very shallow there, which is near where we were this morning, so we already know it's too shallow for the boat, plus no dolphins would be there. It was fine yesterday for the group who went fishing—that's how fast things can change here. He said he'd take us to see the large lily pads and find some dolphins along the way.
  Before lunch, we brought our Kindles down to the hammocks and relaxed there for an hour or so. As we sat there, we listened to thunder first in the distance, then closer and louder. We never saw the lightening and it never started raining here. They say the seasons never change here and no one can predict rain—it comes whenever.
  By the time we were to meet Abelardo at 3:00, the weather had changed again and the skies were blue. We headed out on the open air boat and before we even left the dock, dolphins were close by. These were small gray ones and easy to see and watch. Plus, they were fishing, and the fish would leap out of the water to get away from them. We did find a pink dolphin out farther—it's much larger around and longer. We only saw it briefly, but kept trying to coax it to the surface. Finally we gave up and headed to the island where the lily pads are. It was a small trek uphill to the stairs that led to the fish pond and lily pads. We were standing on a covered wooden bridge over the water and a young girl came over and slowly made her way near us. We smiled at each other and said hello...or ola. Abelardo asked if we'd like to see the village, so we headed across the bridge. The little girl tapped my arm and handed me 2 hibiscus she'd picked for me. Then she followed us around till we got to her house and she went inside. Everyone we saw greeted us and smiled. They have many chickens and baby chicks roaming around the village, several dogs, lots of human babies too. We came to a house where Abelardo showed us a sugar cane press and the owner offered to show us how it works. His wife pulled the cane through as he pressed down at each joint to crush it, much like a garlic press only on a larger scale. They brought it through several times, and with each squish, cane syrup poured out and into a bucket below. Then he doubled the cane, put a wooden stick through the bend at the top and twisted. He kept wringing it until every drop was extracted. Then his wife held up a towel and he poured the liquid through it to strain it and they offered it to us to taste. I only took a small sip, and it was really good. They drink it in this form, but in larger quantities, they heat it and make a rum type drink called cachaca. Matthew tried it here one night—i prefer it in this form. It was very strong.
Being in the village was special and almost just as momentous was my bathing suit getting wet. We went into their whirlpool, which is far from hot, thank goodness. Had fun talking to some people from the OAT tour and then the Aussies arrived....they have 29 in their group that arrived today. It will be a full house tonight.
Tonight we're meeting Abelardo after dinner for a night walk in the jungle. Thank you, Barbara, for insisting I bring your DEET clothes.

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