Zoo Animals

Day 6 – This one has been a long time in the making… turns out that vacation plus people is not a great recipe for blog writing. I fully expected this to be the case, as much the same happened during my Switzerland/England/Wales sojourn last year, but naively, I tried to fight it. Clearly, I lost that battle… and so a few months later, here I am catching up. To close out the suite of Belize posts, we have this here summary of day 6, and then perhaps, if I’m feeling up to it, a single post to recap the second half of the trip—friend marriage fun time.

Morning of day 6 was my last at the Amber Sunset Jungle Resort. Terrified (I don’t use that word lightly, despite doing my best to pretend that I wasn’t) though I was while staying there alone, I felt that familiar traveler’s melancholy when watching my last sunrise at the property. It’s a human thing to always be thinking about your own mortality, but I do this more than perhaps is normal. Everything seems too transient. Time always feels like it’s slipping through my fingertips. I think ridiculous things like “this is the last March day you’ll EVER experience in Belize while you’re 31 years of age.” This, I hardly need note, is an exhausting way to go through life. I could really do with subscribing to the mindful, living in the moment thing. Working on it.

BACK TO THE POINT. I was sad. But two things kept my spirits up #1—the planned day’s outing visiting animals at the Belize Zoo, and #2—meeting friends for the second half of my Belizean experience, wedding festivities! Anyone who knows me at all knows that when it comes to animals I’m like a real life Elmyra from Tiny Toons. Nothing draws at my heartstrings quite as strongly as the round dilated eyes of a fluffy little creature, and I will chase, stalk, and then promptly squeeze until they escape my loving, but perhaps suffocating, grip. A visit to a conservationist zoo was just the thing to lift my spirits, despite the torture of not being able to touch any of the sweet, fuzzy beings.

The drive to the zoo was planned as a pit stop on the way to the airport, where I’d meet up with my dear college friends and some pretty essential members of the wedding party, the bride and groom. From there, the plan was to hop a ferry to our beach resort on San Pedro.

But first, the animals! Myra played the role of driver for this leg back to the airport (not a cheap one, might I add… another $150 for transit back to the hotel). But I was grateful for her company. I found her to be such a chilled out, super smart, efficient, and skilled host. The time during our hour or so drive to the zoo was filled with stories about growing up in Belize, including anecdotes about their carnival, her experience living within too close proximity to sizeable crocodiles, and insight into Belizean culture. I realize now that part of why I keep this blog is to have details of this sort recorded. Because in writing this as a recollection, I’ve lost most everything. Or at least all of the yummy, interesting little details one hungrily hoards like flecks of gold whilst on vacation. Cursèd forgetful brain of mine…

Myra kindly offered to take me to the zoo without charging extra for the pit-stop (as many might have done). She also accompanied me as I walked thru the grounds, snapping the hilariously dorky (storky?) pic of me comparing my arm span to that enormous Jabiru stork’s wingspan (which can be up to 9ft long!) While I would have loved the visit with or without Myra, she added such richness to the visit. Of my favorite stories during our walk thru the zoo was the one about the gibnut BBQ she’d accidentally participated in. Myra had always refused to eat gibnut because the little creatures are just ridiculously adorable. You might be tempted to “squee” at the sight of one. But at this BBQ, Myra was carried, like a cartoon character, by the tempting aroma. Only after she devoured her portion of gibnut was she told that she was, in fact, eating gibnut. This creature is also known as the “Queen’s Rat,” and is, per Myra’s description, incredibly delicious. It tastes (again, according to Myra) like pork, but even richer and more mouth-watering, and just yum. Alas for vegetarianism. I only ever miss eating meat when I’m on vacation.

Some other animals I saw and swooned over at the Belize Zoo include:
Coatimundi (looks like a ring-tailed raccoon)
Puma
Tapir
Ocelot
Jaguar (adult as well as a wee babe!!!)
Jaguarundi (little wild cat, like my sis 😉 )
Kinkajou (just look them up)
Harpy eagle
Jabiru (the stork from my featured pic)
Blue-crowned Motmot

The zoo trip wrapped up, we left for the airport where I bid Myra goodbye. Then, after some texting, some confusion, and some baking in the Belize sun, I was finally reunited with my next set of animalian encounters, my crazy, delightful, smart, goofy, playful, curious, inquisitive, and forever favorite, friends. They might not be as cute as jaguarundis, but they’re my forever people. To put it as cheesily as possible, they are indeed the family that I chose. Heart filled to the brim, we exchanged some sweaty hugs, and off we went to our next adventure. The setting for the second half of the trip would be the beautiful sea-side island of San Pedro, there to witness the union of one lovely lady, Arielle, with her Harrison Ford, Zack.

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