Wednesday, October 04, 2006

day #4: finalmente! a tourist-free zone! yeehaw!

so our last day at the lake was spent going to the reserva natural atitlán. we had to walk a ways to get there, but it was super tranquilo because there was really nobody there when we visited. the lago atitlán’s nature reserve is a huge bosque that has a butterfly garden and a protected area for spider monkeys and badgers. i’d never really had much contact with badgers before, nor spider monkeys – so it was kind of cool to get to see those. the butterfly garden was amazing, but when we arrived we heard this banging on the side of the net that surrounded the garden and part of the lamina that serves as the roof of the building. we looked over and there was this huge spider monkey in the tree and he was pissed about something. he kept banging on the roof and shaking the net and then climbing on the roof. then he’d come back down into the tree again and start banging. we walked around the garden taking photos and by the time we came back around the monkey had left. i was kind of glad because i don’t know about interacting with monkeys that are mad about something. kate, one of the girls in our peace corps group, got bit by a spider monkey up at her site. the monkey is a pet of one of her neighbors and she had this huge bruise and bite-mark from where the monkey bit her. and i didn’t know this, but monkeys can transmit herpes to humans, so you know, getting in a monkey’s way when it’s pissed probably isn’t a good idea.

view of a waterfall high above lago atitlán

a spider monkey we encountered on the way to the butterfly garden

the monkey that was pissed off

so we left the garden and walked back to the center and then onto this other trail. they had this bin of walking sticks for visitor use and we took a couple but then were like “seriously, do we really need these?” but we kept them, and i’m glad we did. we came up to this platform area where the badgers were down below eating plantains. we watched them for a while and then went up top to watch the spider monkeys hanging out in the trees. monkeys are so damned cool! swinging about and acting like humans and what-not. so courtney and i are sitting there talking and watching the monkeys when all of a sudden courtney’s like “oh my god! oh my god!” and i turn around and there are like 15 of those badgers coming up onto the deck and towards us. like this huge gang of them. and it was a little weird. so i used one of those walking sticks and i’m like “vayase!” and they backed off – some climbed in this tree, others went back down the steps. but then we were watching some of them and i thought they were super cute. there was one with a hurt paw so we kept calling it the grandma. anyway, so we were taking pictures of them and then courtney says “what if one of them was like ‘now gimme a quetzal.’” and i about died laughing. seriously, that’s some funny shit.

some of the badgers that started stalking us

¨gimme a quetzal¨

¨while you´re at it, i want one too¨

these were the spider monkeys hanging out in the trees high above where the badgers were

so we continued on the trail which now consisted of a series of hanging bridges over the stream that was being fed by this huge waterfall. it was so super cool! we made it up to the highest one and then it started raining, but you know, not horribly. we took some pics of the waterfall and then moved on and decided to walk the long trail back to the center. well, of course, we only had flip-flops and about half-way down the trail we realized that the combination of flip-flops and a muddy trail didn’t mix well. it wasn’t really a problem when we were climbing up higher, but when we made the descent, we found nothing but mud the entire way down. and because it had just rained, it was even worse. so after almost falling on our asses a million times, i told courtney we should just take our shoes off and walk the rest of the trail barefoot. so we did that and it wasn’t too bad, actually a little relaxing. i felt like a hobbit – and probably looked like one too. but we made it down without falling, even though courtney had a near miss where i thought she was done for.

yo on one of the hanging bridges

courtney and her walking stick

so when we finally made it down to the center, we approached in our mud-caked feet and the guy who was working there was like “what?” when we showed up on the sidewalk outside. we asked him to get us paper towels from the bathroom and i think he was confused. then i sat down on this tree stump out in the yard area and a couple of minutes later i felt something biting my leg and i look down and i’m sitting right in front of this huge anthill. the ants are crawling up my legs, biting whenever and wherever they could – i literally had ants in my pants and this group of people coming out of the center were laughing at me as i was hopping around trying to shake the ants away. whatever.

basically the rest of that day was spent making some last-minute market purchases followed up with eating the most picante tacos i’ve ever had in my life from this street vendor.

view of the lake from high in the bosque

view of the lake as we were walking up the road from the reserva