Reminiscing Belize

by jane arie baldwin

My Belizian writing desk

My Belizian writing desk

MONKEY RIVER

I hopped on board with my pack

Binoculars, camera, lip balm, sunscreen, bug spray, water bottle

My baggage

The early morning birds on active duty Watched our boat pass

To Monkey River

Once a thriving banana republic

A real republic of bananas

Colonial British, Creole, Garifuna, manifestly destined Americans

Bartering bananas instead of khakis

Now only a couple hundred Creole-Garifuna locals

Bartering in the tourist trade

 

And we come

With our backpacks (and our khakis)

Binoculars, cameras, lip balms, sunscreens, bug sprays, water bottles

To see something different

A crocodile here, some mangrove swallows over there

A blue heron, or two, strangers sitting next to us

Some birds high up in the sacred Ceiba tree

Relatives of the oriole, the largest of their family

What were there names again?

 

The great roar

Of the howler monkey

Large round mouth, wide-open throat, voice deep and amplified

Little bitty body

Like a black cat hopping from tree to limb

And those tiny little bats

Easily mistaken for giant moths

Incognito on dried branches sticking out of the river

 

On the way back

Wind-Whipped

Hair like meringue peaks

Sun pink skin glowing

The color of rum punch

Bowl of turquoise blue holds

A playful stingray, a manatee and her two calves

Acquaintances sitting next to us

Who saw the same thing

 

Check that off your bucket list!

Stingray?       Check!

Manatee?      Check!

Howler monkeys?               Check!

Tiny little bats?                     Check!

Friends sitting next to us

Portlanders, Coloradans, Yukon Canucks

And those whatchamacallit orioles high in the Ceiba tree

What were their names again?