Return of the howlers

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.)

Sunday, October 21

One of the howlers I was hanging out with on Saturday.

I’ve been struggling mightily with a section of The Book, and yesterday morning I started to hit stride, making more progress than I had in a few days.

Then the howlers showed up. Monkey business ensued.

I noticed two of them in a tree about 25 feet from where I was writing. They’ve been scarce since the days became bloated with rain, and I guess yesterday’s nice weather convinced them it was time for a feeding frenzy. I still act like a little kid at the zoo every time they come around, so I promptly abandoned my computer and went over for a closer view of what turned out to be a mom and baby munching leaves and seed pods from a tree about 15 feet above me. They seemed completely unfazed by my presence.

That’s when I noticed two more. In the same tree. And three more in a nearby tree. The sound of dropping leaves and branches prompted me to spot another handful making their way toward the bar area of PurUvita. Within 15 minutes about 15 or 20 of them emerged, hanging out in the nearby trees.

So much for momentum on The Book. But I did get to spend a quiet hour watching the monkeys move gracefully through the trees, and the alpha male even unfurled a magnificent series of howls. That’s the first time I’ve actually seen one screaming. Very impressive. Even cooler, there apparently was another band of them over behind La Jungla Ferretería (The Jungle Hardware store), so their alpha started shouting back at our guys.

I also had a really strange coatimundi encounter on Friday. I was in the Treehouse reading Jennifer Egan’s incredible “A Visit from the Goon Squad” when I heard a racket that sounded like the distress call of some bird that had been nabbed by a predator. When I hobbled out onto the deck to see what was up, I saw a swarm of coatis hopping around in an extremely agitated manner. There were easily 15 or 20 of them, and as I watched closely I realized there was a larger, darker one who was the center of their ire. I assumed it was a male, and it wasn’t backing down. I pulled up the Wikipedia entry on coati’s and found this:

Males over two years become solitary due to behavioural disposition and collective aggression from the females and will join the female groups only during the breeding season.

I’m betting that’s what was going on here. They’re a lot like raccoons, and they can be just as fierce. After snarling at each other for a while, the entire pack ran in unison up the hill and disappeared into the jungle.

Last night, I took Gian and Sara out to dinner at a wonderful Mexican place here in Uvita to thank them for their help and friendship. If you ever find yourself in Uvita, I highly recommend Carlito’s, especially the shrimp enchiladas and the pineapple margaritas with jalapeńos. ¡Que sobrosa!

My first time atop the property in about 6 weeks. Stunning.

This morning, I decided to take the steadily improving ankle for a test drive. I toyed with going to the beach but opted instead for a walk up to the top of the property, which I figured would be lower impact. Th ankle did well and the view was breathtaking. I’d forgotten how much I love it up there.

Banana update: I’m not sure I see a lot of difference sine the last photo, but they do seem to be doing well. I suspect they’ll be ready after I’m gone. Something for Jeff to look forward to …

The bananas continue to grow.