Roatan is a small island about 36 miles from mainland Honduras. It attracts many tourists, as it did us today, for its varied wildlife. The captain was able to dock without issues next to one other MSC ship. Near the dock was a collection of retail shops, but our eyes were drawn to the thick jungle vegetation behind them, even greener and thicker than what we had left in Florida.
We took a tour to the Gumbalimba resort at the tip of the island to see it all. When you are on a big ship, you always hope that you and your fellow passengers don’t overwhelm the place. Gumbalimba was big enough for all of us and then some. As we walked off the ship, we boarded small shuttles for a half hour drive. The groups did not all leave at once, so when we got to the resort we wandered around, unaware that others might be nearby. Our guide Nash, had lots of great patter to prepare us for what we were about to see and to learn a bit about his island. Although in mainland Honduras the primary language is Spanish, on Roatan English with a bit of an island twist is primary. Communication flowed easily.
We were not allowed to bring much into the park; lockers were provided. This is because the tour included a visit to a Capuchin monkey colony. I know these tiny monkeys from documentaries I have seen where Capuchin are trained to live with and serve quadraplegics bringing them things and feeding them. They are smart and their hands look remarkably like ours. Our guide was quite worried that the monkeys would steal things from us, even things as large as water bottles and sun tan lotion. I suspect his worries were based on items that his tour groups had lost over the years. The Capuchin handlers bribed the monkeys with sun flower seeds and they happily sat on our heads munching away and dropping hulls in our hair. They wrapped their long tails around our necks for balance and felt like fur wonderful fur hats, better suited for where we come from than where we were.
We saw agouti dashing around on the ground. They were not nearly as appealing, looking like large rats. As the day warmed, more and more iguanas appeared, coming to life in sunny patches. The island has black ones which are carnivores and green ones that favor green stuff. The large male with is bright orange scruff was clearly the big man on this campus. Colorful parrots and macaws shrieked in the trees and could also be bribed to spend a little face time with us. I have never held a large macaw in my arms like a baby before. They sat in pairs, sociably picking lice off one another’s feathers. A little girl in our group, who was moaning and groaning the whole tour, suddenly beamed and was good as could be once a macaw was placed in her hands. Finally, the tour included something that was interesting! It was ironic how much better we saw these animals here, than in the Amazon where no one was bribing them with sun flower seeds. A highlight was a sloth, hanging in a tree, snacking on leaves. We went back to see him again after the tour was over and I got some action video of him moving from place to place. The resort had a nice beach and swimming pool nearby, which felt delicious after we tromped around in the woods in the high humidity.
We were free to stay at the resort as long as we wanted and returned to the ship on shuttles when we wished. Judging from the announcements we heard over the ship’s PA, two people did not keep an eye on the clock and missed the ship’s departure altogether. We are staying on ship’s time (EST), but Honduras is on CST. Some of us with watches which automatically adjust to new time zones, were in for a rude shock when they were an hour off.