My birthday present from my husband, Gunter, was a 9-day trip to Belize.

Belize was a great getaway for the two of us.  The choice of Capricorn Resort on Ambergris Caye was a good one. It allowed us to be laid back in a boutique resort where it was quiet and we didn’t have to do anything if we didn’t want to!  The resort consists of three private cabanas facing the sea and the second-largest reef in the world, next to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The resort has a large, attentive staff and fantastic food; in fact, the restaurant is known throughout the island of Ambergris Caye (a 15 min flight from Belize City).

During our stay, we took only one tour, the jungle river trip to Lamanai. It was one long day: we flew out of the San Pedro airport to the Belize City municipal airport, then took a van ride through the rural areas of Belize and finally, a 31-mile jungle wildlife river tour (by boat) to the Mayan Ruins of Lamanai, situated on the banks of the New River Lagoon. These are the most well-kept ruins in Belize. While traipsing through the jungle paths leading to the three archeological sites, two howler monkeys roared on and on, announcing their territories.  The eerie sound was a fantastic backdrop to the Mayan ruins. I took some camera videos to catch the sound; I hope it worked.

There in the jungles of Belize, I am pleased to report, Gunter and I actually saw a black howler monkey for the first time!  In the first book on our circumnavigation called MAIDEN VOYAGE, on page 161, I describe the first time we had experienced that same sound, while anchored in an uncharted bay in Panama:

“I awake with a start. The sound is like nothing I have ever heard, a kind of braying, like that of a hoarse donkey. The guttural sound comes again, clearly from the jungle.  I listen more closely. It seems like more of a throaty, pulsating roar than a bark. Do they have wolves out here in the tropics? I don’t think so. Gunter is now wide awake as well. Because we can’t identify the sound, we decide to retreat into our cabin to shut it out. We remain there all night long.”

Our determination to find the source of that sound is recounted in the story: “In Search of the Howler Monkeys,” Chapter 10, page 168 of my book when we take an ecotour of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. There, we hear the black male that makes that sound, but we see only the brown female, rustling the treetops high in the jungle canopy.

While “on vacation,” I found that my creative energy—which seemed stifled by the holidays— did come back. Sitting barefoot at a teak table at the back of the thatched roof restaurant, I made some terrific progress on Book 2, which will be called SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC.  I am in the middle Chapter Six now.  I returned back to San Diego rested and with renewed energy.