I’ve been having a really, really fantastic time here in Guatemala. The places I’ve been and the people I’ve met are some of the coolest. From Semuc Champey to Lake Atitlan, the locations have been top-notch. My fellow volunteers and housemates are amongst the broadest range of personalities I’ve come across in one place. I’ve been receiving lots of positive feedback from kind strangers all over the world, especially from Nic’s family.
Two new volunteers entered my house. Their names are Alex (Toronto, Canada) and Luke (Perth, Australia). Alex is here doing childcare and Luke will be teaching alongside me. As a matter of fact, there is now a total of seven teachers! Too many if you ask me but we had to make it work. Which meant I gave up my younger classes to the newbies while I kept the older class. The younger classes initially didn’t like me leaving them, but they quickly warmed up to the newer teachers.
We all went out the next night to Monoloco for ladies night. Since Carly was gone, we now had Alex to sneak us cheap drinks! As usual whenever we go to Monoloco, we have a great time!
Maximo was hosting a fundraiser at a restaurant called Kafka for one of the organizations they support. I bought ten raffle tickets for 100 quetzales to help benefit the proceeds. Some of the prizes were decent: free spanish classes, a gift card to Monoloco, bottles of wine, stuff like that. I won the prize that I definitely didn’t need nor want: a haircut and a shampoo massage. I just got a haircut yesterday! Bad timing on my part. Nic has been saying how much he needed a haircut here so I passed him my voucher to use. I would never have used that thing.
The weekends are opportunities for me to take trips somewhere in Guatemala. Hanni has been my partner in crime when it comes to weekend excursions so we thought of some places. She suggested hot springs or nearby ruins. I wasn’t too keen on either. She then suggested an auto safari. A safari here in Guatemala? I was skeptical, but thats what we decided on. I checked on the internet and apparently there was a zoo about an hour away we could check out. Ever since I’ve been to the Serengeti three years ago, anything else afterwards related to zoos or animals have been ruined for me. I kept my expectations low. So did Hanni. We rode with a family to the zoo in Somewhere Land and were dropped off but were told to be back at the gate by five. It was only 1:30 so we had plenty of time. We began our walk and saw big elephant rat things.
I don’t know what they were called but they were weird looking. We entered the main complex and began to roam around. We saw a cage full of capuchin monkeys where I decided I wanted to play with them. Hanni and I went around the wooden fence and I found a stick. I used that stick to sweep chunks of fruit from underneath the cage to give to the monkeys. I just wanted to touch the monkeys hand. Thankfully there wasn’t any security around watching us.
I was actually surprised with all the animals the zoo had. There were peacocks free-ranging about when all of a sudden we saw a couple with its iconic feathers fluttered about.
We saw snake cats and rabbit rats. To be honest, I had no idea what these animals were and their descriptions were in Spanish. There were these creepy owls who stared at me as their heads lightly swayed back and forth.
Then there was this basilisk lizard, native to Central America, that could run across the water! It´s also called the ¨Jesus Christ¨ lizard for that reason!
For me, the jewel of the whole zoo was the jaguar, my most favorite animal! I know everything about them!
They’re the third biggest natural cat in the world with the strongest jaw of any big cat. One of the primary differences between a leopard and a jaguar is that the jaguar has a rosette pattern instead of solid spots. The jaguars here were constantly pacing back and forth in their enclosure which meant they were uneasy.
The highlight of the day came from a curious little monkey swinging above Hanni and I.
At first we paid no attention to it, as it swung branch to branch above us. All of a sudden Hanni let out a loud shriek!
“Whats wrong??” I asked.
“That monkey just squirted juice out of it’s butt!” she said with a disgusted look on her face.
It nearly got on her. I busted out laughing! There was another baby monkey following us on trees nearby. We stopped to watch it as it climbed closer and closer to us.
We stood there as it bared its tiny teeth at us. Suddenly the little monkey swung to the ground and landed just a couple feet in front of us, staring straight at us. Hanni and I froze. We didn’t expect the monkey to come up to us so close. We slowly inched backwards when the monkey briefly looked away. We then sped walked in the opposite direction. I looked back to see if it was following us and it wasn’t. That was the most nerve wrecking moment of the day. The moment Hanni and I thought we were going to be attacked by a itty bitty baby monkey! We saw on our map that there was a larger area harboring larger animals. This was the ‘auto safari’ part. We hopped in a van with a driver and drove around the outskirts of the park. The animals were much bigger here: giraffes, hippos, zebras, and even lions.
The auto safari was good enough to keep our interests but I wouldn’t recommend it to people traveling to Guatemala. There are far more unique things to see and do in this country…like hiking up Volcan Acatenango, which I am doing next!