I went on a very relaxing vacation with my BFF Craig to Riviera Maya, Mexico. We did all of the things, including snorkeling, swimming in a 75-degree cave, bowling, ATV riding, paddleboarding, escaping a room, ziplining, and - my favorite - seeing spider monkeys.
Our hotel was bordered by jungle on most sides, one of many oases dotting the southern coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula. Our room was in the first building of the resort, so we were right up against the jungle on one side and the resort on the other. The resort, however, also had a number of forested areas, with walking paths through thickets of banyans, banana trees, and beautifully flowering bushes.
We were pleased to learn that these areas were home to spider monkeys, and not just one or two. The property was littered with them. While they were most active in the late afternoon (5-6 was the ideal time to go looking for them, we were told), evidence of their presence was never far away: the cleaning staff was constantly sweeping monkey poop off the open-air hallways.
On our third day, after 5 pm rainstorms thwarted our first two attempts, we finally set out for a pre-dinner walk in hopes of finding spider monkeys. We walked for approximately two minutes before finding the cutest baby spider monkey hanging out in a tree right below our room.
We were so fixated on this little guy that we didn't realize a larger spider monkey was sitting on the sidewalk right behind us! I took so, so many pictures of this monkey, and he obliged for quite a while. They were very relaxed, clearly habituated to humans. They didn't balk at our presence at all, nor did they come up to us.
Because there were different stands of jungle across the property, we got to see five monkeys walking between two before hopping up and disappearing in the trees.
On their way, they climbed the sides of the stairwells with rock climbing skills I envied and hopped onto people's balconies, likely in search of food. The room service instructions requested alerting them when you finished, probably so trays would not spend long outside rooms. The monkeys apparently knew where to get an extra snack when the fruit trees weren't hitting the spot.
Getting glamour shots of these guys was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I love wildlife photography, and I don't think I'd ever seen spider monkeys before (outside of a zoo). I was a little creeped out by the adults' extremely long limbs, but the baby monkeys were super cute.