Friends on the Road
You often meet the most interesting people by the roadside. On the highway fringe, approaching San Juan, Panama, one such family were the Walkers. Steve from South Africa and Michelle from New Zealand, packed up and left Rockhampton, Australia 5 years ago in search of adventure and change. Perched high in the Jungle hill tops, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, they have established something wonderful; Alouatta Lodge and Release Centre. It's a Monkey Refuge for abused, injured and homeless Howler monkeys.
It has been one of my niece Katie's wishes to see and hold a monkey, of it's own free will. Katie's eyes lit up and she jumped at the opportunity. The Walker's monkey association began when an indigenous neighbour brought them an orphaned monkey that was needing care. Soon, more arrived from all corners of Panama. Many had been saved from poachers, smugglers and rescued from the highways, as natural environments become more scarce.
They wish to use their centre as a platform to educate both locals and foreigners about the forests and its inhabitants, such as the Howler monkeys. Alouatta Lodge also offers accommodation, food, local knowledge, guided tours and transfers to this tropical oasis and is definitely worth a visit when in Panama. It was a wonderful experience for Katie and the rest of the crew to meet the monkeys and share the hospitality of the Walker family. There was also an exchange of a jar of much desired Vegemite for a jar of home made tropical ketchup!
You can email Steve and Michelle on firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will be more than happy to accommodate. If you find yourself on the road to San Juan, you can also hold meet the monkeys!