Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Letters From Nicaragua: Part 19 - Into The Jungle

I was getting pretty sure that the scary sound was only in my head. Why else was it that no one else seemed alarmed? Standing there in front of the Casita (our little house), the sound was becoming louder and more insistent. I looked around trying to figure where it was coming from and saw our ubiquitous yard guy, doing his thing and not paying any attention to the freaky noise, much like a person that lives in the flight path of an airport ignores the passing of a low flying airliner.
I gestured wildly to him, hoping that even with no language between us, that he could understand. Once again I heard the sound nice and loud and pointed up in the air with a questioning look. He merely replied "Monos" as if that would mean something to me. He saw the puzzled look on my face and pointed out into the trees behind the house. He then started walking out into the forest, making that universal hand movement that indicated I should follow. Sure thing, was it feeding time for the monsters? Was he the appointed guardian that merely pretended to drag a rake around the yard while waiting for the next gringo to guide to the feeding ground?

I gamely followed him, realizing that if this was a movie, I was that guy that wandered into the basement with a flaky flashlight because I heard a funny noise. He walked for a while until we came to a clearing. I quickly looked around for evidence of bleached bones or skulls piled up in a pyramid, but instead, I was motioned to look up in the trees. There, not making even a peep, were two large monkeys. I gave him a quick thumbs-up, which, by the way, does seem to have universal meaning. Whenever I met someone that realized they had no English and I had no Spanish, we quickly figured what sign language worked, and thumbs-up was the most used sign by everyone.
I ran back, got my camera and found the monkeys had probably had their photos taken before. Not exactly striking poses, but I did seem to notice that they gave me their best profiles.
Satisfied that I had some cool photos of a native animals, if not the source of the sounds, I was happy. Much googling later, I found this WAS the source. The Howler monkey is known for making the second loudest sounds of any animal, next to the Blue whale. The sound is known to carry and fools many people into thinking they are nearby when they are not. The sound is nothing like something from a Tarzan movie or the zoo. I'm not sure if it is a warning or a greeting, but the reading I did told me that the monkeys are common to Nicaragua and they travel in families of as many as eighteen. So, even though we got the house off the beach, and behind the mansion, we got the cool monkey visit.
From that time on, I'd head out surfing and come back home and listen for our monkey friends.
It wasn't until a day later that I heard the sound again, this time it was early and I was having my first cup of coffee. Bravely, I walked out into the woods and stood to see if I could find the source. There he was, a really big one, sitting back just looking at me, low in the v of a tree branch. I saw more movement, and then realized two very young ones were moving closer to check me out. I stayed quiet and didn't move, hoping to see the young ones better. As I stood there I slowly started to see that it wasn't one or two monkeys....they were all around me...

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