Friday, March 07, 2014

The Monkey River Tour, Monkey River Village, Belize

After hearing several cruisers rave about the Monkey River Tour as led by Percy Gordon, I arranged for 7 of us to take it together. Percy picked us up at Yoli's at 8:15pm in a fast boat. It took us about 50 minutes to get to the village but the trip was really fun. We did some bouncing through the waves off shore for awhile (but with padded seats thank goodness) and then wound our way through the mangroves. Percy stopped a few times to listen for oncoming boats as the waterways were narrow and we couldn't imagine how he knew his way. Sometimes, knowing it was safe, he put the pedal down and it was a fun ride. The village of Monkey River now has only 200 people but back when the banana industry was thriving there was a population of 2500. In 1891 it was a town but in 1981 it was downgraded to a village. They got electricity only a few months ago. We were able to walk around a bit at the village and use the clean bathroom at Alice's Restaurant, where we later had a very good lunch. Then back in the boat we slowly went up the river, stopping as Percy saw birds, bats, a small crocodile, and a big green lizard. The scenery was lovely with a variety of trees and plants that Percy pointed out, along with a description of the medicinal and practical uses. We got out further up and spent an hour observing the howler monkeys. To attract them and get their attention Percy pounded on the tree and howled - just like them. We had lots of time with one big family group. The teenager was fun to watch and the mother with a tiny baby who couldn't keep his eyes off us. Per instruction we all worked on keeping our mouths shut (hard to do when you're looking up) as the monkeys love to shit or pee down on the onlookers. Percy also showed us termite nests and the various uses of the plants; leaves, roots, stems and branches. It was interesting and fun. We could have had a swim but no one volunteered (maybe it was the crocodile we saw earlier). Back at the village we had a delicious lunch at Percy's mother's restaurant. Unfortunately she passed away only a month previous. His niece however did a great job. We had a choice of chicken or fish with coconut rice and cole slaw. Yummy. On the way back we stopped to watch a family of manatees. They come up to the surface occasionally but not for long, although I got one shot of a young one. It was a great day and we are all thankful for Percy's expertise and charm. You can see him online at his web site He was featured in Esquire magazine and on Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures.
Mary and Bill from "Backstage Pass"
Can you see the 4 small bats hanging on the underside of
this branch? Our guide did from quite far away.
The water is fresh but murky with silt and the vegetation
lush on both sides
This green lizard, quite large, was sunning himself
These huge bird nests hang from the trees and are
built by the Oropendulas. We saw these before
in Trinidad.
Percy's boat pulled up along the bank
These thorns are hacked off by machete
and used as security like broken glass on
Percy's hand is crawling with red termites. They taste a bit
like oranges. Scott has tried them!
That's the termites nest
Mary wears one of the leaves which Percy
picked off a tree as decoration. They stick
like velcro to any thing.
Walking through a stand of giant ferns.
We watched a tribe of howler monkeys for some time. This
is a juvenile that moved twice as much as his elders
I have two shots of this mother with her baby clinging on
her back and staring at us. 
Mom looks around to see what the fuss is about but it
doesn't stop her eating. The baby is still staring a us - he's
just above her tail. 
Our guide Percy, the King of the Howlers, 
Heather with her "leaf decoration"
Suzie from Joyous, Renata and Jim from Emerald Seas, Scott and Heather, Bill and Mary from Backstage Pass
Jim drinks from a branch Percy cut, these are
a source of fresh water while hiking.
Climbing down to the boat from the steep bank required
some dexterity. 
Even Scott has a leaf decoration, although smaller
Percy pointed out many birds but unfortunately I can't
remember their names.
As you can see it was a beautiful day, although to be
honest almost all our days here are like this.
Renata, Mary and Suzie with Percy and his son Perceival
(Percy Junior) behind.
Our delicous lunch prepared by Percy's
neice. His mother Alice died only a month
ago. We were very sad to hear. 
The cook and staff at Alice's Restaurant
The restaurant itself.
The gift shop. Monkey River village had no electricity until
a few months ago. Percy says it was because the person
in charge is now a woman!
We saw a family of manatees on the way back.

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