Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Want to Reserve One Monkey

My herbal sleeping remedies are just not up to snuff to battle the outer influences disrupting my sleep. Though I cannot really complain, this room is costing us 900 Q for the 5 nights; that comes to 90 Euros for the 5 nights. However, there is such a draft in the window that is divided into twelve smaller windows that it feels like the big bad wolf is huffing and puffing, trying to get in at night. At the back end, there is a dog that barks non-stop, but he competes with a rooster who must have jet lag. He starts to crow at 3am when it is definitely still dark out, so his body clock must be way off.  Back to the cost of the room, this is a typical amount for the hotels here in this town. Breakfast is included also.

When we went to the restaurant for breakfast, we had choices, so we ordered two eggs with coffee. It was not feeling like an oatmeal day. We asked for a portion of ham and said would pay the extra. This really threw them, so they must not have that request often.

The day’s adventure was the Atitlán Nature Reserve, which is about 3 miles from where we are staying. Tuk-tuk time! Good thing too, the roads are treacherous even in a vehicle and there are some steep hills getting there too. Entrance fees are 55 Q or 5.50 Euros, but for the really brave, hence neither of us, they had the Extreme Cable Adventure, where you could go up on the mountain via a cable car and then use a zip line to come flying down. That was 220 Q; sad to say we did not bring enough cash with us. Darn, next time.

We walked the trails up and down and around. There were seven suspension bridges, not my cup of tea, as I have a tremendous fear of heights outside of any type of container: plane, cable car, or elevator. We followed the signs displaying the little man hiking, as opposed to the plain route signs. I figured if that little man could do it, I could too. Being outdoorsy is my greatest challenge in life; I filled my quota in Cub and Boy Scouts and then gave it all up for an extended period of Lent that lasted over forty years. Still there are challenges to be had for one’s personal growth, plus I didn’t want to disappoint Ron. The park promised monkeys. We saw one…from a distance…from the back. We were only certain it was a monkey when we saw him run up a tree. There was also supposed to be some other animal like a raccoon, but none appeared. Walking through lush greenery, there were poinsettias the size of small trees, ferns and other plants that were Jurassic sized and dozens of coffee trees with coffee berries on them. With all of this, one would think there would be a great deal of bird watching. Not a single bird was around. It did make for a peaceful walk, there was not bird calls to draw our attention from the dangers of the path where irregular rocks appeared out of nowhere waiting to trip a shoe and send you flying or the hidden holes that are covered with fallen leaves that you inadvertently step into. Seriously, yes, we had a joyous time even if we did not see the promised animal life.

Back at the central info point, we snacked on nachos and fruit salad. These were by far the best nachos I have had in some time. Fresh papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and cantaloupe are excellent ways to snack through the day. On the other side of the park is a butterfly refuge. Just as we were collecting our energy to check it out, we ran into the Australians from our boat ride. They had done it all and were leaving.

The butterfly area necessarily was stuffed with greenery of all kinds to accommodate different types of butterflies. There were not that many visible, though there was one black and red one that was totally camera shy. Monarchs or seem to be less evasive and will almost pose for you. There was supposed to be a display in the back, but it looked abandoned long ago.

Another tuk-tuk took us back to our place and from there; we relaxed, thought about what things we wanted to buy and shop for and then decided on dinner.  As we were out walking, there is one coffee shop that has desserts to drool over that are anything but traditional. Who should be sitting there, but the Spanish family that we were on the boat trip with. We chatted for awhile. They had hiked up the volcano and were exhausted. We left them and had dinner, but planned on returning for dessert. When we did, our neighbors from the hotel were at the next table. Small world, small town! As were were enjoying our cake and coffee, the little kids who are hustling wares came up to us. One little boy about 9 years old, said to me "Friend, I remember you from last night." I told him I had the same memories of seeing him too, since he would not leave our table for thirty minutes no matter how many times, I had said I wasn't interested. Tonight, he and his partner in hustling were eying my cake and asked for a bite. I had not assurance of how the waitress would react, but I told them I would buy them one piece to share. It is like feeding pigeons, once you show attention to one, a half dozen more show up. Two more children arrived as if a signal were flashed in the sky. Asking the waitress for 2 pieces of the cake of their choice, I left them to it. With a touch of wisdom, the waitress cut their choices equally and put them on plastic plates with plastic forks and divvied them out. Each of the four children came up to me with plate in hand and said "Thank you". My heart melted. 

This is a totally non-type A vacation. I am not certain if I like it or not, but I certainly don’t want to make a habit of it.
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