Friday, February 8, 2008

A Walk in the Park

"Too much of a good thing. . . is wonderful."
Mae West

The other day I walked the 3.5K jungle trail to Punta Cahuita in the National Park. The trail follows the incredibly beautiful coastline on one side with a picture perfect private beach around every turn. On the other side of the trail is the lush protected tropical rain forest full of abundance and life. At certain points the trail edges deeper and deeper into the jungle and farther from the sea.
This is the domain of the White Faced Capuchins "Monkeys" otherwise known as "The Terrorists of the Trees" My neighbor, Elena from Quebec was walking the path from Puerto Vargas back to Cahuita when an aggressive male white face came down from the trees after stalking her for some time. They always look you straight in the eye to kind of size you up. Then without warning the bugger jumped on to her backpack and ripped it off her back. After undoing the zipper and finding no food, the critter tried to steal her camera. Elena was able to shoe away the rascal but not without some trepidation.
On another occasion I came upon a friendly Tico family having a pleasant picnic on the beach at the point. I quietly watched the pack of white faces maneuvering all around the chicken that was roasting on the grill. Finally one of the rascals was hanging by one arm right over the chicken. He reached down with his other hand and grabbed a piece of the meat but it being rather hot, was dropped immediately by the primate with a sharp yelp! Dinner was saved if only temporarily.
On my way back I watched as a troop of about 25 Howler monkeys, including babies, crossed the path on trees only about 20 feet over my head. The babies would stop and eat and then clumbsily struggle to catch the group. There was no overbearing mother nearby so it appears that they feel very safe with the kids on their own.
The many rivers, the volcanic soil and abundant rainfall make this part of the world an ecological paradise where almost anything will grow well. Fruit trees abound. Nothing goes without full and complete nourishment from the land or the sea.