Thursday, January 15, 2009



Within walking distance of the Barillas Marina Club (where we are moored), there is a group of spider monkeys living in the forest. The family of one of the groundskeepers has been watching over this troop of monkeys for many years - even giving them safe-harbor during the recent civil war. Why? Because the rebels were eating them!

Now, the troop has about 24 members which is far less than it had many years ago. El Salvador is largely deforested and has a high population density - population of humans that is. This makes it hard for the native animals to survive.

So with Marco, the groundskeeper as our guide, we left the safety of the first set of iron gates and armed guards and started the walk to go see the monkeys. Jonesy and I had picked up some bananas in town the day before to feed the monkeys as the family is quite poor. We walked along a foot path past sugar cane fields and through the forest. Coming along for the walk were two little dogs which were the pets of another guest at the club. We guessed that Marco was "dog sitting" them for a few hours.

Oh...I guess we didn't leave all the armed guards behind as one followed us from a discreet distance the entire trip. Security is top-notch here at the Barillas Marina Club. We cruisers benefit from the attentive staff who are here to care for wealthy, and sometimes famous, Salvadorians.

Anyway, we walked along through the forest. Along the way we saw some amazing stuff...check out these bright orange/red beetles! They were everywhere in one spot eating the rotting fruits.

It is "summer" here in Central America as it is the dry season. We've only had one episode of rain and that was only a very few drops the other night. For this reason too, there is not much food available for the monkeys.

Along the footpath we were greeted by the man who watches out for the monkeys. Nope. Don't know his name as it was really really long. As he walked with us he called out "Pancho!", "Pancho!". Soon, there was rustling high up in the trees. Pancho, a male spider monkey, appeared from among the branches just as we were coming into the living spaces of the local family.

Soon, there were monkeys everywhere! The bananas came out of the bag and we doled out pieces to the crowd. One female was quite unafraid to approach us. The family calls her "Maria". She even tried to steal bananas from within the shirt of our guides.

Bad Maria monkey. Aw heck - she was pregnant so she's eating for two - give the gal an extra banana fellas.

And look carefully at the photo below of the darker colored monkey - she has a baby clinging to her back! So cute! But be careful - mamas are very protective of their young.

Soon we were out of bananas so it was time to head back. We gave our host some cash and our thanks and started the walk back to the grounds of the club. Good-bye Pancho! He followed us for quite a while - high up in the tree boughs. Yes. He is in the picture here in the upper center.

These beautiful flowers where just growing wild along the path. Marco braved stepping into the growth to pick some for me.


Soon we will be leaving El Salvador and moving along down to Nicaragua. We've been going into town (Usulutan) twice a week to make progress on getting Jonesy's dental issue resolved - just needs the crown now - and to do general errands. Yeah, even cruisers have to do errands sometimes - we gotta eat - and we always need copies of our boat papers and passports to enter and exit the ports. Copies? Sure, but where? Oh! Here! Just follow the "Copias" sign - up the narrow green staircase to a concrete cubicle above.

While Jonesy was getting copies made, I checked out the balcony and shot a photo of the street. Sure isn't a tourist destination is it? It's just life as usual in Usulutan. And that includes the constant stream of trucks loaded with sugar cane rumbling through town. And life as usual also includes a much more economical way to sell basics such as mustard and mayonaise - in plastic bags!

All sorts of groceries are sold in plastic bags here, and they are quite a bit cheaper than if you choose to buy items in the jars. Tomato sauces are sold in little pouches instead of cans like in the USA.

The vendors in the outdoor markets are very agressive - reaching out and grabbing you as you walk by. Even inside the larger grocery stores, they station girls by the products to talk you into buying some! There's the poultry girls...they shove chicken breasts under your nose. Around the corner is the yogurt girl. When I put one container of yogurt in my cart she grabbed a second one and tried to get me to take it too. Just let me shop in peace!!

Hmmmm....I'm sounding grouchy - time for a little swing in the hammock under the cacao trees here at the Barillas Marina Club.

wow. How cool that yo got to see the monkeys up close and personal. I'm so insanely jealous of your travels. Thanks so much for including pics of your trips around the towns. It's so neat to be able to experience the differences in the cultures out there.
Great post, the trees are huge! That's so sad that the this beautiful country is in turmoil.
That is awesome to see all the monkeys. In Peru all alot comes in bags it is kind of weird but cheaper.
The pictures are beautiful as usual! You are sooo lucky to experience all those beautiful things :-) Have fun!
That is the sweetest little baby monkey face, and amazing picture of the mama monkey. I've never seen a pregnant monkey before. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. I always look forward to the next post!
Hey there, I finally have a chance to catch up. What wonderful pictures. The red beetle is something else. Your adventures sure are taking you too see such great places as far a people, fauna, bugs and animals go.
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