Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hola from Honduras!

Can you find Honduras on a map? Here is a clue. It is in Central America. The north coast of Honduras has beautiful beaches. The climate is tropical so there are a lot of banana and pineapple plantations along the coast. There are only two seasons in the tropics – the wet season and the dry season. However, it can rain in the dry season, too. That is why it is so green.

Most people don’t realize that Christopher Columbus never set foot on what is now the American continent until his forth and last voyage. The story goes that his voyage was caught in a storm that lasted for days and days and when the storm let up and he saw the mountains of Honduras he said, "Gracias a Dios." That means, "Thank God" in Spanish. The mountains Columbus saw are now called the Gracias a Dios Mountains. Spanish is the main language of the country.

We took a small plane to Roatan, one of Honduras’ Bay Islands. The flight was only 15 minutes. We visited Roatan Nature Park, which was being built to take in rescued wild animals. They already have a jaguar, anteater and many other animals. Our friend, Ollie showed us the mark on the anteater where a rope had rubbed into the anteater’s skin leaving a scar. Most of the animals can not be set free because people took them in as pets when they were babies and they never learned to live on their own. Now they will have a nice, safe home with excellent care at Roatan Nature Park.

At Anthony’s Key Resort they have a marine research center where they try to preserve and study Roatan's natural resources including bottlenose dolphins. The resort has 20 dolphins in a large open-sea corral. If they wanted to the dolphins could jump out and swim away but it is their home. Many of them were born there. If fact, one of the researchers said, "Sometimes we take the dolphins out to the deep ocean so our guests can dive with the them. It is more difficult to get the dolphins to follow the boat out to the open sea but it is no trouble to get them to return." The resort has several programs that let people interact with the dolphins. They feel the more people learn about dolphins the more likely they are to help protect them and help to preserve their habitat. We loved watching the dolphins. They seem to have a lot of fun!

We also visited another nature park called Gumbalimba. We met Pedro, one of several free-roaming capuchin monkeys. Our guide said, "Be careful, Pedro is a thief." Sure enough he tried to take something out of the bag of our friend, Mr. Scott. The other monkeys were better behaved. At the same park we saw a Monkey La La. But it wasn’t a monkey and sure didn’t look like one. It is a lizard. No one seems to know where the name came from but the lizard has a special talent. It can walk on water – for a little ways. They stand on their hind legs and, because of the webbing between their toes, they can run about 15 feet before sinking at which point they have to resort to swimming.

Our guide pointed out many interesting plants and animals. We thought the Traveler Palm, which looks like a big fan was interesting because it always grows in an east-west direction. Also, when it rains the water runs down the leaves and collects in the stem so that when the stem is cut the water inside is good to drink. It is truly a good friend to a traveler.

There are many interesting things to learn in Honduras. I think we learned a lot on this trip don’t you?