Before moving to Ecuador, I lived along a quiet stream in Costa Rica’s dry rain forest. Jaguars sometimes left their footprints in muddy areas to remind me not to venture out too far at night, and other exotic nocturnal animals allowed fleeting glimpses from time to time. (Red-eyed Pacas and golden-eyed kinkajous) Regal morpho butterflies surfed the invisible air currents above the cool waters of the stream while howler monkeys foraged and entertained me from the dense canopy overhead.
Almost every day the howler monkeys meandered through the tree tops along a specific-yet-relaxed route which included a stop-and-gawk session at the studio. Like watchdogs, they often slept in the treetops above the roof. Some mornings they slipped away silently, and other mornings they roared and howled until I finally opened the door, stepped outside and returned their greeting: “Buenos dias! Good morning! Ummmph-ummmph-ummmph-ummmph…” (Roaring upsets them; quiet ‘ummmphs’ calm them.)
They became quite territorial in my behalf and seemed to watch over me. The ‘little ones’ taught me a few subtle nuances of their language, and I could often call them a bit too close for my comfort!
How well I remember a quiet morning in Costa Rica when “my” troop of monkeys raced by without stopping. “Hmmm,” I thought, “That was strange. I wonder where they’re going.” About half an hour later, they raced back in the other direction. “Yes; that was very strange.”