Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Max: Howler Monkeys

I’ve been to Costa Rica once before, several years ago, and I was introduced to howler monkeys then. They’re all over the trees like squirrels are at home, but they’re named for their large deep growl. From a distance one of these growls can sound like a distant earthquake’s rumble, or like a fierce lion attacking an enemy. Still, you get used to the sound and it’s no more surprising than thunder during a cloudy day.

However, the other morning I was taking an early morning run down the extended driveway from our compound. All was quiet and peaceful until suddenly, just beyond my right shoulder, one of these monkeys let loose one of their trademark howls. It’s one thing to hear them from a hundred yards away, but another to hear them from ten feet. While the monkeys are friendly enough looking (imagine Curious George on a serious diet), up close they can sound like King Kong at his absolutely most ferocious.

Anyway, that was a good wakeup call. No matter how much you know in your mind that these monkeys are small and harmless, a noise that powerful will still send your heart into overdrive.

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