Magic Hour on the Water

Laura McNamara

St.Charles, United States

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Honduras has quite a few protected areas and the Refujio de Cuero y Salado is one that boasts rare, indigenous and endangered species such as the leopard, howler monkeys and a plethora of birds I’ve never heard of – butterflies too. And iguanas. And crocodiles. The refuge is stunning in its beauty. Well worth an off the beat excursion… especially when that excursion is such an adventure!

From La Union, Honduras, Kat- my travel buddy – and I needed to take a little, toy-looking train for the trek to Cuero y Salado. The train is a remnant of the Banana Republic days and was used to haul loads of bananas across the massive banana plantations of the early 1900s. I was in a state of utter bliss as we cruised in the old train from generations past along a beautiful, sunlit countryside filled with palms. A fresh breeze whirred across our faces. Locals strolled and biked along the tracks. Horses dodged our string of toy cars.

Then, as the sun was beginning its daily dipping ritual into the horizon, the Salado river appeared on our left reflecting the “magic hour” glow of the late afternoon. Locals were lined up at the little stop ahead, ready to board the train and head back… (continued below)

I think we were up even before the roosters that next morning. Kat and I felt our way through the dark to the small dock on the Rio Salado. The river was now dark shadows… deep blues, navys and black etched into a twilight river scene framed by mountains in the distance. Our guide, Rolando, slipped our canoe into the cool blue water and the three of us began slinking our way along the shadowy riverbank.

At first, everything was so quiet and still. Then, a low grunting sound started to reverberate through the trees, getting louder and louder. The howler monkeys were greeting the new day with their deep, throaty trumpets. Only once, was I able to actually capture a glimpse of the rare monkeys. Their voices are deceiving, and they’re much smaller than they sound.

As light began to creep into the shadows great herons and other strange birds that looked like creatures out of Pan’s Labyrinth stretched their wings in morning flight, skipping from one bank of the river to another. The refuge was coming alive with the orchestra of the swampy jungle. As we slunk further into the swamps in our canoe, the roots of the mangroves tangled into tighter and tighter clusters of gnarled nests. Our guide spotted hidden creatures that were right under our nose: bats hanging just a foot overhead, a camouflaged iguana perched a few yards off. A black bird that shimmered with rusty red in the sunlight dipped his bright yellow beak into the river for a drink. A cousin of his ran across floating foliage with young chicks in close pursuit. We were floating in a strange and wild world. It was beautiful.

Artwork Comments

  • Rick Lawler
  • Laura McNamara
  • Barssel
  • Laura McNamara
  • berndt2
  • Laura McNamara
  • x- pose
  • Laura McNamara
  • fatdade
  • Laura McNamara
  • ozecard
  • Laura McNamara
  • John Quinn
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