Waking Up with the Monkeys!
August 24, 2010
One of the funniest Villa Perezoso vacation home stories
One of the funniest Villa Perezoso vacation home stories I heard was from our very first guests who stayed at the vacation home Villa. Thankfully, they were our “guinea pig” guests, friends of mine who invited their friends along to test out the vacation home Villa to make sure it was ready for prime time. Greeted upon arrival with our house specialty drink by Victor, our house manager, the gang of 9 were very happy to have finally arrived to begin their week’s stay. The evening was full of relaxation, good food, frivolity, (and tropical drinks!) as they admired the panoramic ocean and jungle views, the scenery and the sunset. Having flown on a redeye, it was early to bed for most. This is where the “fun” in a vacation home begins and how it was told to me…”In what seemed like the middle of the night, out of nowhere (but really from outside) came these thunderous sounds which catapulted everyone out of their beds scrambling to find out what on earth was happening. Running up and down stairs, bewildered, still sleepy, they all bumped into each other on the main living floor, a bit frightened, but mostly surprised by the cacophonous cries emanating from right outside the vacation home Villa…they were wondering if there was a lion or seal or perhaps a new vicious creature they had never heard of sending them warning signals . At that moment, the sun was beginning to rise and looking out beyond the decks, the images of a dozen or more bellowing monkeys came into view. Realizing that these very very loud noises were coming from the monkeys, they all looked at each other in various degrees of dress (some a lot less than others) and burst out laughing until their guts ached”…They have told this story again and again to their friends. Of course Victor now is sure to tell the guests upon their arrival about the possibility of a morning wake up call at the vacation home from our howler friends!
Some “howler” facts:
Known and named for their loud cries, their “din” can be heard up to 3 miles away. There are nine species of the howler monkeys, a New World monkey. Costa Rica is home to the common mantled howler (Alouatta palliata), called the mono congo in Costa Rica, which also inhabits parts of southern Mexico, Central and South America. What distinguishes the New World monkeys from the Old World monkeys is that they do not have a padded rump and they have large side-opening nostrils. They also have a gripping tail used to hang off trees while eating, a characteristic not found with Old World monkeys. They have thick long red, black or brown hair.
As our guests found out, howler monkeys usually vocalize at dawn and dusk and they do this by passing air through a specially-adapted “hyoid bone” in their large throats. The result is a deep, grunt-like call that resonates for miles, and the reason why they are heard long before they are seen. Apparently, these vocalizations are used to mark territory and communicate with others within the troop.
These mantled howler monkeys inhabit rainforest canopies as they search for leaves in the treetops. A troop of mono congos consist of anywhere from eight to twelve females, three or four dominant makes and a few young ones often seen riding on mom’s back.
Females breed about once every two years with their gestation period being six months and giving birth to one offspring. Males will typically breed with several females a year. Newborns ride on mom’s belly for about the first month of their existence and then can be seen riding on their backs.
Howlers are considered to be “folivores”, animals who primarily eat leaves though they also will eat flowers and fruit. They are arboreal creatures hanging out on the tops of trees—part of the reason they love to hang out at Villa Perezoso vacation home where we have the large canopy trees. They live about seven to fifteen years and are the largest of the New World monkeys.
Thankfully, howlers are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species program which prevents the international trading of animals. Though the mantled howlers species is not threatened what is worrisome is the destruction of their natural habitat. These monkeys play an important role in the ecosystem by dispersing seeds in the rainforest (through their dung) which helps regenerate the rainforest.
I am always so happy seeing them settle into our canopy tree in the evening. It is one of my greatest morning pleasures at the vacation home is waking up to their loud calls to each other just as the sun is about to rise…it always puts a smile on my face. The Pura Vida!