Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bastard Costa Rican Wildlife: Howler Monkeys

In this week's edition of Bastard Wildlife, I have a true story of a natural close encounter I had myself in the Santa Rosa National Park in the Guanacaste province. Yes this is true, and I am sure I will regret telling it.

No animals were harmed while making this blog post....

She was absolutely captivating.

I had met her through a female American friend I was working with, and we wrote back and forth and spoke on the phone quite a few times before we eventually met at a club in downtown San Jose. She was a wildlife researcher working at Santa Rosa National Park, and her job was to monitor populations of larger mammals and track their movements from park to park. Her English was almost perfect, and she had that intoxicating Tica accent that was more Paz Vega than Selma Hayek. Without deviating from the theme too much, we made another date to meet up at her place of work so that she could show me the kinds of animals that she worked with.

Is quite a few hours journey by bus to get to the park, but the scenery on the way made it all worthwhile. When I got there, she met me at one of the ranger stations and welcomed to me with a very warm, lingering hug that I didn't really expect. We were still at that "feeling each other out" phase you go through when you first meet somebody you like, but aren't really sure if you'd like to date them. Many men fall into "the friend zone" at this stage of the relationship, and once there it's not likely you'll get out. But I was very interested in this girl, here she was dressed all in the khaki uniform of the Costa Rican park ranger with her hair pulled back in a tight bun, but still looked like she could be walking a runway. It was those ridiculously large, beautiful black eyes and her mischievous smile that would've made her look good wearing a potato sack stained with bbq sauce.

So feeling more confident and very upbeat, I followed her on a nature trail that took us into the rain forest and halfway up the side of a mountain. It was absolutely incredible. We passed a waterfall that literally just materialized out of the solid rock of the mountain. She told me this was due to the heavy rains and the porous nature of the rock. She showed me jaguar tracks and the various listening stations the park authorities set up to monitor the animals that walk the trails at night.

After about an hour we sat down on the side of the trail underneath solid jungle canopy and just started talking. I was really impressed by this date, and we had some great chemistry going. I was just about to shift the conversation towards "us" when I heard a big rustling sound coming from above us. I looked up to see about a dozen toddler sized black forms perched on various limbs of this enormous fruit tree that we were sitting under. They looked like they were having a nice lazy day, munching on the orange fruits (I think they were mangoes) and stretching out in the branches like you and I would a couch.

This is my first time seeing monkeys outside of the zoo, and I remember thinking how cute they looked. They were like a little tribe of people just enjoying their weekend hanging out in a tree together. "Those are howler monkeys, aren't they beautiful?" she leaned in close and put her head on my shoulder. "Yeah they really are, look at them up there...not a care in the world!" I half whispered. I mused briefly on the thought of just hanging out in a tree munching on fruit all day. Then she looked up at me, and our eyes locked together, and my stomach started to flutter in anticipation of what was to be our first kiss.

Then one of the little bastards started screaming...

It startled both of us and shook us out of the "moment" that had just blissfully began. It was an incredibly loud sound, like a combination between a freight train blowing its horn just a few feet away from you and the world's growliest death metal singer. "Hey shut up, up there!" I yelled, "we were just getting to the best part!". She giggled at me a little bit and explained to me that this was their thing, they were literally a loudest land animal on the planet. The only thing louder than a howler monkey is a blue whale, and Lord knows I had never heard anything that loud before in my life. It was so loud that my ears forced my spine share in the pain by shunting some of the vibration to it. And it wouldn't shut up. It had to frikkin shut up.

So rather than lose this what should have been blissful moment, I decided the best course of action would be to fling a stick at them and get them to scatter...or at least shut the hell up. Her "no DON'T joo eediot!!!" hit my ears, but not my brain in time for the stick to leave my hand and go hurtling end over end into the canopy above us. My arm locked extended, as I turned to her and had just enough time to let out a sheepish "why?" before the same question was answered in the form of a warm, wet, squishy mass splattering on my forehead...

The screams were now all in unison and several times louder, forcing both of us to clutch the sides of our heads in an effort to save our hearing. She was yelling something at me, but I could only make out syllables instead of words. She realized this and began mouthing the words with more exaggerated lip movements, but that was no help either. Then she pointed at her face and then mine. That's when I realized that it wasn't a piece of rotten fruit that hit my face like I had originally thought. It was monkey shit.

I started to gag as both of us got up and started running down the trail the way we came. They were following us and having no problems whatsoever keeping up by swinging from the limbs. A few of the bigger ones would swing down to the trunks about head level to us and gripped them like lizards while screaming their demonic little heads off. The trail came to a bridge that went over a small branch of the bigger river flowing down from the mountain we were on. I had enough useless trivia in my head to remember the fact that humans are one of the few primates that don't sink like a rock when in water. That creek was our sanctuary.

"Head for that river, we can lose them there!" I yelled as we picked up speed on the dirt trail. There were sticks and monkey shit raining down on us along with that ever present cacophony of hatred that blasted our ears like an idiot with an air horn. "No sheet, Watson where joo teenk I'm rahnning?" she glowered at me. "Sherlock", I said, "the saying is 'no shit Sherlock'...Watson was his assistant."

With that, she turned, grimaced at me and shoved me while I was in mid stride, causing me to lose my footing and stumble to my right side. I tried to regain my footing, but I tripped over a small bush and went head first into the underbrush. In trying to break my fall, my arms got entangled in some vines that comprised the jungle floor, momentarily pinning me face down with both arms extended in a Superman-in-flight like pose for about 10 seconds.

In that time, three of the larger monkeys had made their way to the ground and were hopping up and down while emitting that god-awful howl of theirs. It seemed like they were working up the courage amongst themselves to get closer and proceed to tear my face off. I got to my feet after some effort and started yelling back at them to fuck off, they had their fun. A stick hit me in the back of the head, and at first I thought it was the work of a monkey, but when I turned around, my little park ranger was yelling at me to run.

I took her advice and turned and ran away as fast as I could towards the creek embankment where she was waiting for me. When I got there, we both went about chest deep in the water. She hit me again when I asked if there were any piranhas or dick fish. I reached down into the sand and used it as a scouring powder to get the caked monkey shit off of my face and out of my hair. The fall had made the situation worse by adding leaves and several interesting insect varieties to the mix. She had managed to get hit too and was taking her hair down to try and wash the shit out of it. I don't know why I found that so alluring, I shouldn't have, and further I shouldn't have said anything to that effect because that got me a full on slap. "I hayt choo so much!" she yelled "how can joo be so stupid?!"

We walked back in silence back to the ranger station, soaking wet and with poop-smeared clothing. We didn't say a word. When we got back, I just walked to the bus stop and waited about an hour for the bus to finally come by. When I got in, the driver looked at me and and started belly laughing. He yelled something in Spanish to the rest of the passengers as I sauntered in. I wasn't really paying attention, but I heard "gringo" and "stupid". Everyone else started laughing as well and it was a long ass ride home...

I never heard from her again....meh....watch some videos... 



And from the Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation group of Costa Rica. This is a good one...




 "With surprising accuracy" is right lady....assholes

24 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

Good story, they're a right noisy shower of bastards them monkeys, if you never heard from here again then it was never meant to be my friend, howler monkey shit shouldn't have been an issue when love and noise are in the air and you're running for your lives:D

Patti D. said...

That is too bad, that girl should have known better.
Still, how come those monkeys have poo ready to be tossed?

Merlyy said...

Hahahahahaha:D

Awesome entry!

Kicking Rocks said...

ROFL!!! You evolved from an awkward child!

Alphabeta said...

Well written, hilarious and sad.
But that will learn you not to mess with a tribe of primates.

As for 'dick fish', I checked the link.
"Although lurid anecdotes of attacks on humans abound, there is only one documented case of the removal of a candiru from a human orifice".
I won't go in to further detail, but there is some.

mmmpieohyeah said...

interesting experience you got there... I've got bad experiences with monkeys myself...

Sam said...

That really sucks, surprised the girl didn't contact you again after the incident, guess she wasn't really worth it.

Banacek said...

I had a similar experience with groundhogs once. I still have nightmares.

GADAFINY said...

wow thanks for sharing great story
following and $upporting

duffboi said...

That is an incredible story. Sucks the girl couldn't overlook it tho. Wow, I'm gonna stay away from monkeys if I'm ever around em. I don't trust none of em now! hehe

Megan said...

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

I enjoyed reading this bit...as usual :-)

<3 Megan

mac-and-me said...

lol great post still laughing

Shutterbug said...

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday!! May all your wishes and dreams come true. :)

Venus said...

OMG super funny. My favorite post so far.

I hope you see her again!

amBored said...

oh hosh :D:D: cute animals btw

ed said...

lol@ the pokemon card you made for yourself

G said...

Great story - Happy St P's day

Robert Fünf said...

Note to self: Never throw anything at a monkey.

Arcita said...

interesting tale.

Chris said...

Hahahahahha! Damn monkeys, always cock-blocking humans

tearinox said...

well written great story. there is a lesson to be learned here :)

Astronomy Pirate said...

Dang, monkeys blocking your groove. Though it's never smart to antagonize a wild animal. Thankfully you did though, and gave us a hilarious post.

Spike said...

awesome story XD

Kim Anders said...

good story :P