Lost In The Forest: February 8, 1998

People always say, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” They’re right! It IS the humidity!

The night before, as we climbed gratefully into our hammocks, we found that the mateiros had helpfully laid out for each of us towels and... thick, rough blankets! Obviously some kind of cruel jungle humor, we thought as we sprawled out in the hammocks, trying to take advantage of any little breeze. Ha! Turns out, in the middle of the night, those little breezes get very cool with no sunlight to warm them. It’s like the chill you get when you step out of a swimming pool all dripping wet. Going to sleep uncovered in the humidity of the rainforest means waking up at midnight, frozen solid! If there was any jungle humor that night, it would have been in watching us frantically scrambling in search of that same blanket that had been so casually tossed aside.

On the other hand, the rudely chilly awakening does provide the opportunity to appreciate the incredible diversity of sounds as the rainforest night-shift go about their business. Along with the expected honks, squeaks and whistles, there were other less expected sounds—like an air horn, an angry wet cat, and a pager. One call in particular sounded exactly like spontaneous laughter, but coming from another room, an eerie feeling when surrounded by looming shadows! At one point, there was a noise just like a tree branch falling on the tin roof of our hammock enclosure. But a tree branch with claws that went scrambling across the roof to the other side?—safe within your mosquito net shelter, it seemed best not to think about such things.

Dawn comes abruptly in the tropics, and along with dawn came the Amazonian equivalent of an alarm clock: howler monkeys. Referring to the sound as the “call” of the monkeys would be as odd as describing the sound of an F15 fighter plane as a “call”. In fact, for me personally, that’s exactly the first groggy thought that penetrated my still-sleeping brain, “Why are they holding an airshow over my house?” Other descriptions of the sound ranged from “a tornado” to “the breathing of some kind of monster coming through the forest”! Ok, that may sound silly, but do you think you can do better? Listen to the sound of the howler monkeys, and then let us know what you think they sound like!

Ann’s Journals Lost In The Forest    1     2     3     4