This morning we went out with Captain Bobo on his skiff, traveling down the coast from Placencia to the Monkey River. At last! Out on the ocean! We saw many birds diving for fish, mostly pelicans and cormorants. Part of the trip was through some red mangroves – such cool root systems (picture number 1). When we got to the mouth of the river, as we pulled up to the shore, there were seven pelicans just sitting there on the pier looking at us (picture number 2). We stopped there at the village to pick up our guide Mario (who carried a machete) and place our orders for lunch so they’d be ready when we returned later.
As we traveled up the river, Mario pointed out interesting birds, trees, and plants. After a while, we pulled to shore where there is a trail through the rain forest jungle. As we walked, Mario told us about what we were looking at. Many of the trees we saw were familiar, and I liked that fact that different peoples in Belize use the plants in similar ways. One thing different about this jungle is that the inhabitants include large Blue Land Crabs – we were able to see one (picture number three). They live in holes in the jungle floor.
There is a large growth of bamboo in one area – very tall, with stems 3-5 inches across, growing in such a way as to make a large cathedral-like space. That was amazing to walk through. Then Mario found a live termite nest close enough to reach (they build them in trees) and poked his finger in and got some out. These were little, like little ants. His challenge to us was to try them – they are edible, high in protein, and taste minty. How could we refuse? And yes, they do taste very minty. But you would have to eat a LOT of them to get a decent meal.
After our jungle walk, we went back down the river. On the way, we saw a crocodile, our first. We had a delicious lunch at Alice’s Restaurant (yes, the actual name!) and said goodbye to Mario. Then it was back onto the boat to come back to Placencia. On the way, we stopped at a popular manatee feeding ground to see if we could spot any. It took a while, but Captain Bobo was patient and knew how to look for them, and we did finally see several manatee noses as they came up for air. After that we returned to Placencia and then back to our hotel.
Tomorrow is our last full day here, and we are taking an aerial tour of the Great Blue Hole.