Tuesday, June 17, 2008

night monkeys

There are night monkeys in the trees. Sounds like a children’s story. I can’t find much information on night monkeys, they are not supposed to exist here, but are reported on the Panama Caribbean coast and we have unbroken forest, in strips, between here and there. The locals of course know they’re here. They are grey with buff bellies and white, owl like faces and exist in small family groups, and they’re nocturnal. But there they are darting away from my flashlight. I wonder why they’re nocturnal, what pushed them into the darkness? Smaller than the other three monkey species that live here, and eat the same foods, perhaps competition pushed them ‘underground’ high into the canopy. There are plenty of flowers that open at night for the bats, perhaps their favoured food? Right now they are in the cacao trees. This explains why I can’t get hold of any cacao to make into chocolate, the monkeys and squirrels are getting there first. Oh well. The fig by my house is dropping fruit, a steady thonk thonk of fruit hitting leaves from 40 feet up. The area smells of fermenting fruit. Unfortunately these are not the figs we eat, though maybe I should try one. I’ve started eating the fruit of the swiss cheese vine after I saw how greedily the pregnant spider monkey devoured them. There are a couple of vines that reach down almost to the ground with fruit within my reach, I’m not taking them from the monkeys who would never come that low. My mum had these vines all over the house when I was a kid, tied to mossy sticks. I had no idea then that one day I’d be eating the berries which taste like a mix of pineapple and banana.