Monday, August 24, 2009

On Horseback

Our first day at Chaa Creek was both active and relaxing.

Shortly after breakfast we embarked on our first activity of the day, a wonderful horseback ride through the jungle. In addition to me and Ellery, there were four others – a family from, of all places, Ardmore, by way of, of all places, Los Angeles. Our guide was Robert, who was truly wonderful, teaching us about the plants and animals of the jungle, as well as a bit of archeology at an unexcavated Mayan site at the top of one of the mountains we climbed. The ride was much longer than expected, almost 4 hours, and well worth every minute of it.

Then it was lunch and the swimming pool, mixed in with a short walk on the River Trail and the Medicine Plant Trail, both of which run alongside the Macal River. Once apparently very clear, the building of a hydroelectric plant upriver has turned the Macal into a very brown, muddy river and unfortunately not at all tempting. But the pool, filled with salt water, was lovely, and we spent several hours there, me chatting away with Chad and Elizabeth (the couple from Ardmore) and Ellery playing with William and Henry, their two young sons.

Dinner was unremarkable, and followed by a “creatures of the night” walk led by Allan. Unfortunately, Ellery was very frightened, despite the fact that the only creatures were saw were a scorpion, two tarantulas, and lots of ants. But what was amazing were the sounds … an amazing orchestra of birds and insects.

Chaa Creek reminds me very much of the lodge we stayed at in South Africa – a compound of rooms, with a central dining room and bar, terrifically friendly people and very knowledgeable guides. And yet, we really could be anyplace in the world; being in this secluded camp is also being away from local culture. It’s one kind of a vacation and a nice one to boot, but I’m really looking forward to moving on to Guatemala, staying in the heart of towns and spending more time getting to know the culture of the region.

Oh, and I need a better camera – or I need to regain those photography skills I once had but seem to have lost over the last two years.