Towel Art

Everyday when we’d return to our room, housekeeping would surprise us with a new towel sculpture…

Maybe this on is a caterpillar?


 

The Jungle Place

As we were doing some research on things to do down here we found one that looked pretty interesting.  The Jungle Place was rated high on trip advisor (#6 our of 85) so we thought we would check it out.  It’s a sanctuary for Spider Monkeys about 30 km from Playa del Carmen.  They only take a few visitors a day so we were lucky to get a last minute spot.

The Jungle Place consists of a few stone houses and lots of chain link fence in the middle of the jungle

To get there we had to travel down the main highway 307 until the turn off at Chemuyil.  This in turn took us through a small town where we stopped and had lunch (couple of meals, couple of bottles of water, and a smoothy for $8… woo hoo!).  Then we continued on a small paved road until it became a dirt road which in turn became a series of potholes occasionally bridged by small flat islands of road.  It was one of those drives where you keep telling yourself “I must have missed the turn” as you drive along, fortunately we stuck to our guns and eventually saw a sign for the Jungle Place.

One of the young spider monkeys staring out from the tunnel, wondering who we are...

Heidi and David started this place in 1999 when they rescused a spider monkey being sold as a pet who was on the verge of death.  Over time they took in more spider monkeys that had been sold as pets and since abandoned.  The monkey’s were captured when they were young and never developed the skills necessary to survive in the wild so they couldn’t be released.  Instead they built a series of cages with connecting tunnels to be a place for the monkey’s to live (reminicient of one of those hamster habitats with colorful plastic tubes for the hamsters to crawl in… but on a much bigger scale).

When we got there another group was finishing up.  They left and the 7 of us met with Heidi and David and had a seat around a long table just outside of the monkey’s habitat.  Heidi and David (and maybe the monkey’s) needed a little break before they were ready for the next group so we all just sat around and talked for a while.  It seemed like quite a long while actually and we began to get a little antsy waiting for things to start.  We chatted with Heidi as David started bringing out little containers of food.  Tortilla chips, lettuce, walnuts, grapes, and cantelope that would soon be instrumental in our visit. 

Not all the monkey's would sit there politely accepting treats, instead they would try to pry your hand open to get at what was inside

David handed out some tortilla chips and walnuts and told us to break them into little pieces.  It was time to go in.  They warned us to remove any jewelry or clothing that the monkey’s might play with.  I left my shoes behind and gave Heidi my camera to take pictures.  The cage had two chain link doors set up in series so that one door was always closed when the other was open to prevent the monkeys from escaping.  I was the first one in, followed by Sandy and then the others.  They had us sit on the floor with our legs out in front of us because this was a non-aggressive pose and the monkey’s would feel more comfortable.  We each had a clenched fist filled with bits of chips and nuts that we had been given.

The monkeys knew the drill and soon they were all over us, seeking the bits of yummy treats that we had.  Some would politely take the pieces offered while others would try to open your hand to get what was inside.  We were warned that one of the monkeys, named Luna, was a little aggressive and basically we should give her whatever she wanted.  She was also the one monkey they warned we shouldn’t pet.  They pointed Luna out to us so we’d know which one she was.  The only problem is that all of the monkey’s look the same!!  Heidi and David could tell them apart but for me, not a chance.  Despite the warning, the monkeys were all very friendly.  Heidi and David would periodically point out Luna and remind us but there were no problems.

"I know there's something yummy under Sandy's leg"

Heidi was the only person not in the cage with the monkeys. Periodically, she would go get more food and then throw it through the chain link fence at us.  Crackers or grapes or cantelope would go flying everywhere.  Some we would catch, some ended up hidden beneath our legs or between us and the monkey’s would start searching for it.

We only interacted with the females.  The males could be a little more aggressive and unpredictable so to play it safe they were all off in another cage.  The females all had their own personalities, one just wanted to cuddle with one of the girls in the cage with us.  Others were explorative, curious, unfortunately one was ostracized from the group and set alone watching us with sad eyes.

Sandy almost loses a shoe as one of the monkeys figures out how to undo the velcro. Fortunately for Sandy, the monkey lost interest before she was able to get the shoe off Sandy's foot.

Sandy fighting a losing battle for possesion of her hairband

Sandy had worn her hairband into the cage and after a while Maya discovered it.  Maya went to work quickly and it didn’t take long before she had pulled off the hairband.  Heidi joked that Maya had a collection of those.

Let's try some bribery... wouldn't you rather have this tasty grape than that old hairband?

Sandy tried bribery, holding up pieces of food so that Maya would drop the hairband but she did not want to let her little treasure go.  At least she didn’t let it go until we stopped paying attention to her.  Once she was no longer the center of attention, Maya let the hairband drop to the floor.

The game is only fun as long as someone else wants to play... no longer getting the attention she desires, Maya drops the hairband.

Sandy and Maya make up... still friends 🙂

Bruce has a friend too who happily picks away at those pesky parasites

See more pictures in our photo album.

Towel Art

Critters…

So our first night here, when we were eating dinner at the resort restaurant, out of the corner of my eye I saw a brief streak of movement that quickly disappeared into the bushes.  The next morning as I walked out to get some coffee, I saw these strange five fingered tracks in the sand.

Then one evening as Sandy and I were out on our deck playing cards, we saw a small mammal dart across the sand and disappear under the building.  After some careful tracking (I wandered towards the shrubs behind our building while Sandy yelled out “be careful and don’t get bit!”) we finally managed to get a good look at this little critter.  He seems to spend most of his time digging in the sand and shoving his long snout down into the hole he just made, presumably looking for food. 

So… does anyone know what this critter might be?

Wine bar

No… we didn’t have wine here.  But it seems wine bottles is one of the main building components of this restaurant that we found for lunch.

This restaurant near our hotel used old wine bottles to make many minature skylights

They also had a turtle pond in the middle of the restaurant and several small streams that cut through the restaurant floor (watch your step!)  We had enchaladas (mediocre) and a cheese stuffed pepper that was delicious!!

Towel art

A space invader was waiting for us when we returned to our room

5th Avenue

Sandy and I wandered down the beach all the way to the ferry terminal.  Hotels line the beach just about the entire way and we stopped at one for lunch.  For our return trip we walked back along 5th Avenue.

One restaurant had a nice pond filled with large koi

5th Avenue is a long, pedestrian friendly, strip of restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, and vacation club salesmen (oh no!).  For most of the way back to our hotel it was closed off to cars, only the last few blocks allowed cars on the avenue.  We poked our head into a couple of shops as we walked along, which of course got the salemen very excited.  Heck, just looking their way would get them excited.  Even the most discrete glimpse would not go unnoticed and you would have someone calling out for you to come see their wares and boy would they make you a great deal!

The cats see all that goes on from their 5th Avenure perch

At one point, like suckers, we saw a sign announcing two for one tickets and we went up to ask.  Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb!  We know better than this… it was of course a vacation club.  The sales women were a pair identical twins perhaps in their 50’s, they had short identical haircuts, were dressed the same, and both had the same high pitched, almost cartoonish voices that sounded like they were made up.  We couldn’t tell them apart and they worked hard on us.  We probably would have escaped pretty quickly but they were fun.  It was entertaining talking to them and listening to how quickly they spoke and how fluidly the conversation switched from one twin to the other.  At one point I did try to leave, grabbing Sandy’s arm and pulling only to have the twins grab her other arm and pull back.  It was all very good natured… well mostly good natured.  They were trying to get us to go to a sales pitch.  Ultimately we managed to escape their siren’s song and continued down the avenue.

There are so many interesting looking restaurants along 5th Avenue, you could easily eat out every meal and not go to the same place twice.  We’ve already discussed if we were to come back, we’d probably try and get a place a little closer to the ferry terminal and with no meals included so it would be a little easier to explore all of these options.

Towel art!

Our national bird (almost) greeted us when we can back from the beach

sol-less morning

The resort was mostly dark at night... only a few rooms had their lights on.

The next morning I found myself up at 4:30am.  A result of a combination of time change (an hour earlier than at home), our early bed time, and my being a natural early riser had me up and out the door, heading down the beach to enjoy sunrise.

Trusty camera in hand, I made my way down to the beach.  It was a little early for the sun so I went for a little walk to see what there was to see…

A colorful scene breaks up the monotony of a long concrete wall

One of the famed Mayan pyramids slowly being lost to the waves of time

On my walk I spotted one of the famous Mayan pyramids.  Sadly, by the next day it was gone.

As the sky grew lighter, I could see clouds everywhere.  It didn’t look like there was any space left for the sun.  After a long wait, a hint of yellow finally showed itself.  But it didn’t last long before it disappeared again.

Cloudy morning on Mayan Riveria

 

Playa del Carmen map

Mahekal is towards the end of the strip of hotels that stretch along a mile and a half to the ferry terminal