Life in the jungle
We live in the jungle.
I say that, but I often look around and see we have screens on our windows and landscaping in our yard and think, “No, it’s not that crazy out here.”
But this week made me think otherwise again.
Our “living room/dining room” and cooking stove are outside on our patio (I suppose that should have been my first clue that we don’t live in the suburbs), so we were eating dinner last Saturday evening there, enjoying a spectacular sunset and remarking just how vibrant the colors seem to be in our little part of the globe. My friend had given birth to a baby girl earlier that day and we got to take part in the excitement of those events. The neighbors had invited Joel to join them on their weekly off-road motorcycle ride through the mountains (of course, coming out of rainy season and crossing many rivers, they came back exhausted and covered in mud). We were relishing the beauty of the day, each in our own way. I was watching the inky silhouette of the leaves of the trees gently blowing in the evening breeze washing up the mountainside when I noticed an unusual rustling in the leaves. I pointed it out to Joel and just as he looked over there, a monkey walked out on the limb, tail high in the air, as he went from branch to branch, against the hot pink sky, apparently also enjoying dinner at sunset.
The other neighbors we didn’t realize we had made an appearance this morning, shortly after breakfast. Again, we were sitting at the table on our patio, when I heard rustling in the bushes. I looked over at the same time our dogs took notice, and saw two wild pigs (either collared peccaries or white-lipped peccaries) snorting their way through our yard! We’d heard they can be aggressive, so we weren’t sure whether to…well, let’s just say, Joel wanted to chase after them with his spear gun and the dogs to get a Christmas ham, but I wanted to close the doors in case they smelled breakfast and decided to come get a closer look!
Our other neighbors have also been happy to keep their distance — a slow-moving two-toed sloth who camped out in our tree for a week; black squirrels chasing each other from branch to branch, driving the dogs wild; worms that glow like cheap 4th of July necklaces as they cross the road at night; a choir of fiery-billed aracari and giant chestnut-mandibled toucans, lineated woodpeckers giving themselves headaches on the palm trees, white-fronted parrots, hummingbirds of all colors, shapes and sizes visiting the flowers around the yard, as well as a host of other exotic birds making their presences known.
Those are the fun ones.
Then there is the highly erratic fer-de-lance that has even struck at our car, coral snakes, bats that swoop through during dinner, humongous, slimy poisonous toads that leave their waste on the patio at night and torment the dogs to chase them (a potentially lethal choice for our canine family) and all the freaky things crawling around through the bushes at night, rustling the leaves by our window or falling out of trees, “thudding” like dead bodies and then scurrying away into the darkness upon timid inspection with a flashlight and pajamas.
Of course, my favorite falls into the previous category of “harmless, fun jungle creatures” not “scary, what-in-the-world-was-that / get-the-machete” file. My favorites are the giant electric blue butterflies (blue morpho) that follow their super-highway along our hillside, making their way to the banana trees below us. Their appearance is rare, but when we see them, we stop everything to watch them float by, splashing a new color in the midst of the myriad shades of green in the jungle that surrounds us.
Yes, the jungle where I live.