Friday morning, our 5th day at Sandos Caracol, was photo safari day. First I took the time to say hello to my coati friends. After breakfast, I spotted this little critter back in the trees. I didn’t get a good shot because it was quite shy, but I’m told it’s called an agouti. The photo safari started with the macaws by the snack bar. Noemi, our lovely safari guide, explained how Sandos Caracol provides refuge for rescue or surrender birds, as well as many other animals needing a safe haven. We visited the burros next. These two are brothers, born on the same day, different years. Their parents and younger sibling live at Caracols’ sister resort, Sandos Playacar. I was happy to see the Mayan dogs back in their enclosure, after needing isolation to recover from a serious junk food-induced illness. (People – just don’t feed the animals!) In two nearby trees live an iguana couple. I could barely see their little heads peeking out of their tree houses. The macaws overnight in an enclosure across from the dogs. Peacocks are also kept there. The female peacocks wander freely during the day, returning on their own at dusk. Once the male peacock, having only recently been surrendered, gets used to his surroundings he’ll also be allowed to wander at will. We spotted these turtles in the Mayan river. The big mossy one is the female. The smaller, pesky one (unsurprisingly) is the male. The resort also has Mayan beehives. Mayan bees, which do not sting, make their hives in tree trunks. Their honey, made with sap as well as pollen, is not sweet like regular honey. It’s greenish in color and is mostly used for medicinal purposes. As already mentioned, white-tailed deer live in a dead cenote on the property. These deer are smaller than their northern cousins and they’ve been hunted to near extinction. To help propagate the species, Sandos Caracol breeds the deer, which are then released in select locations. The safari ended with a visit from the troop of spider monkeys. It’s hilarious how they can eat upside down hanging by their tails. Lots of monkey cuteness This is my only shot of the youngest baby monkey. Babies ride on their mama’s backs for about a month, so this wee tyke was probably just a few weeks old and so adorable. The sidewalks were usually lined with sunning geckos. This cheeky little fellow puffed itself out to challenge me. I had to do a double-take to make sure this was a real iguana and not another statue. More cute towel art Friday’s eco tour was the Sun Tribute and we once again had the pleasure of Noemi’s company. Here she is explaining about termite’s nests. A dead termite nest is pitted and dried out. A live termite nest is smooth and moist-looking. In an earlier post I mentioned how we’d happened across a cement hut near the Cenote Sacrado and we didn’t know its purpose. Noemi explained it’s called a Temazcal Hut (sweat lodge) and is used in a cleansing type of spiritual ceremony. Lava rocks are heated in the outdoor oven, then placed in the Temazcal hut, along with medicinal herbs. After working up a cleansing sweat in the hut, participants take a dip in the Cenote Sacrado. We ate at El Templo Japanese Restaurant that evening. The food was just okay but the presentation was quite entertaining. The Freddie Jackson Show that night was incredible. I love Michael Jackson’s music, so am probably biased, but Hubby and I really enjoyed the dancing, costumes and production as well. Not only were we greeted by the usual little coatis Saturday morning, an inquisitive raccoon also made a rare appearance. Saturday’s eco tour was the Fire Tribute. Among other things, we learned about the Sacred Ceiba (say-bah) Tree (or Xa’axche in Maya). The trunk of a juvenile Ceiba tree is spiny, but as it matures these spines disappear. The mature Ceiba tree takes on the shape of a woman’s body. The Mayans believed the Sacred Ceiba tree represents the connection between the heavens and the underworld. The branches go to heaven where the Gods are, the trunk is where people live, and the roots go down into Xibalba, the underworld, where the spirits dwell. The Ceiba tree also had many practical uses. The trunk is naturally buoyant, so was used for canoes and rafts. The fruit, called kapot, has a fibre used for pillows and mattresses, and even the seed oil was used for cooking and lamp fuel. Noemi took us to the nearby Plaza del Sol (sun plaza) to talk about that evening’s Fire of Life ceremony.
Iguanas gravitate to the stone benches circling the plaza, to sun themselves and make their homes. How many iguanas are in this picture? After lunch, we explored the beach. The wind was a tad stronger than brisk and we found the walk invigorating. I prefer to walk at the water’s edge and at times the waves almost whisked me off to Cozumel. After his impressive weight loss, Hubby’s now healthy and looking good. This dog was having such fun fetching a coconut. Compared to the wildness of the Caribbean Sea, the Cenote Cristalino was an idyllic oasis of calm. Saturday towel art That evening, we returned to the Plaza del Sol early to secure our seats for the Fire of Life ceremony. I found it amusing to wonder what the unsuspecting guests would think if they realized they were sitting on benches that housed dozens of iguanas. The show was spectacular and Hubby and I were left in awe. I’ll go into more detail at a later date. Please come back next week to see whether I successfully conquer the mighty Grupo Nohoch Mul.