Howler Monkey Spotting

Finally – a howler monkey spotting!

It took some doing. We rode by skiff to Monkey River Village, a Belizean village down the coast where the population made its living fishing, lobstering, and escorting tourists up the Monkey River to see the howler monkeys. There, we picked up a guide, Brian, who took us upstream a couple of miles. The whole trip, he treated us to an entertaining account in barely understandable English about the flora and fauna of the rain forest and how his grandparents used the palm fronds, and bark and what-not to build their dwellings and cure their ailments. Brian belongs to one of Belize’s more colorful ethnic groups, the Garifuna, descendants of native Indians and castaway African slaves who have their own distinctive culture and language.

At length, thanks to Brian’s sharp eye, we spotted some monkeys. There they were, feeding off the leaves of a tree by the river, hanging by their prehensile tails, uttering the occasional bark (but no full-throated howls) and otherwise loafing around. It’s not a hard business being a howler monkey. Predators can’t get you high up in the trees. You don’t have to worry about humans — you’re a protected species, and an entire village of 350 or so souls makes its livelihood showing you to people. Even the tourists are no bother. They’re stuck on boats in the middle of a crocodile-infested river. For howler monkeys, life is sweet.

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21 responses to “Howler Monkey Spotting

  1. Boy, you guys are far out into the Bush, or Jungle, or Whatever. I got questions.

    What do you got to do to get a Howler to Howl? Did you try it?

    Did you spot any crocs? If so how big, how close up? On shore or waterborne? No wonder them Howlers hang out high up in those trees!

    You got any pics of the Monkey River Village? I thought lobsters only lived off Maine. Not down south in Monkey River with crocs below Howlers high up in jungle trees with vines hanging down!

  2. Just lovely! You chose a good time to get away. Remember your poor readers as we submit to cold rain mixed with sleet and the occasional snow shower. More of the same expected Monday. Meanwhile New England is getting hammered with a foot or two of late winter white. Appropriate background for reading about our own golden howler monkey, our very own loose cannon, firing off trade wars.

  3. Should we all retire to hang with the Belizean Howlers down south?

  4. Dear Reed,

    To get the Howler to howl, all you have to do is have it blog with Larry on any subject. ;-))<



    • Andrew –

      Could commentary here on Bacon’s Rebellion drive those monkeys in Belize mad, off the grid and up into the treetops, where they’ve been howling ever since? Quite possibly, I think.


      • Dear Reed,

        Oh, yes, these non-howling howlers are definitely “preppers” or “survivalists” who were once smartphone scratching grid-dwellers like the rest of us sad folk. They just couldn’t take it any more, lost their razors and are living the expat life in Belize. In fact, my sources tell me that they were once “hot rod” junior execs in Sillicon Valley or Northern Virginia! Oh, how the mighty have climbed!



  5. Thank you Andrew! no comment at this time on howlers except I think there are a couple others sometimes!

  6. Bacon,
    What is this? Some kind of Indiana Jones fantasy? Do you have a good-looking, witty female sidekick with you?
    Send pictures.

    • Peter –

      I fear that Bacon’s business about the skiff and crocs and all that is a feign. Quite likely the old boy has gone rogue and arboreal, fled the country, and taken up with troop of Black Howlers hanging out up in the top of the rain forest canopy over Belize.

      • Dear Reed,

        You realize, don’t you, that if Jim has gone and done such an outlandish, nay, mad, thing, that we are besmirched by our association with him! We will be remembered, and tormented, with multiple accusatory questions of “so, you used lurk and make comments on that Bacon fellow’s blog, didn’t you?!?” and we shall be turning away, and stooping in shame at the stinging of it all, endlessly! YES! I DID! AND IT LIVES ON IN CYBER-SPACE, FOREVER! My good name, and that of my children and grandchildren, down to the fifth-generation, is hopelessly soiled! It will be in all of the public school Virginia history textbooks! If only I knew those many years ago that Jim was contemplating such a desperate act in the future! I might have prevented him with sage advice! Now, all is lost! Jim! Why did you not tell us! Perhaps, we missed warning signs…? [sobs]



  7. [Panning from fantasy to REALITY an innocent bystander querries, “Sirs, will you excuse me, please, but pray tell, precisely what IS ‘Bacon’s Revolution’? “]

  8. Pray tell indeed. Andrew, I take it, Bacon’s Revolution is when our Howlin’ Moderator turns the issue before us, the bacon, upside down so as to fry both sides properly — rendering the meat from the fat, so to speak. But that suggests, Bacon’s Evolution is when he loses patience with commenters’ insults and injuries and determines to get out of their way — jumping from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak. Thus, Bacon’s Devolution is when Others Who Shall Not Be Named attempt to steer the conversation their way. And Bacon’s Rebellion, then, must be when he runs howling mad to some beach in Belize to calm down.

  9. Bacon is not in Belize. C’mon, we’ve all seen this before. Remember the supposed trip to Barcelona?

    Bacon’s wife is on a business trip. He’s seized the opportunity to go on a bourbon and branch water bender. He’s been lying on the couch in his sunroom this whole time. The “fire ants building ant highways”? That was the neighbor kid mowing Bacon’s lawn as he does every week. The “Howler monkey” was an EMT that Jim’s daughter called when she noticed Dad lolling around on the sun room couch for the third day in a row. “Sir, are you OK? Sir, I need you to make some kind of movement or I’ll have t take you to the hospital. SIR! SIR!”

    Belize. Really. Jim Bacon hasn’t been outside of Henrico County in a decade or more.

  10. Don the Ripper,
    Yes, Bacon is perpetrating a fraud on us but of a different sort. If you read him, he’s always pitching this Protestant Work Ethic thing of 60 hour weeks, and personal responsibility — stuff WHITE PEOPLE of a certain income level like to think about. In fact, Bacon takes at least six vacations a year. Last year, I think he was on two or three cruises. When I asked him about it, he said he was going to have to take it easier this year. I would have thought he’d be in on Fiji or Samoa,
    Belize it or not!

  11. I owe Jim an apology here. My comments on this post and the prior one on Belize were inappropriate given the circumstances. I am sorry, Jim.

  12. As it happens, Bacon will not accept my apologies. In particular, he says:

    “Reed, Nothing to apologize about. I enjoyed all the kidding you guys gave me – made me laugh! Jim.”

    I figured my earlier rendition of how the early 1950’s UFO monsters movies Them and the Thing combined with Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, Joseph Conrad’s 1898 Heart of Darkness, and W. B. Yeats 1919 The Second Coming, were in retrospect a rude distraction from Jim Bacon’s epic journey through wild red ant colonies and a croc. infected river in search of troops of arboreal Black Howler Monkeys in high jungle canopies. And thus an apology was in order.

    Apparently, I was wrong. And you other skeptic guys were on target.

    Andrew, retrieve your keyboard. Unzip your fingers.

  13. Jim cannot apologise sufficiently to restore his credibility. For you and I and DJR know, the story of his epic “voyage” is plagiarized. It was the howling of those monkeys that scared away aliens, as we learned in Richmond theaters in 1953: “It Came From Outer Space.” In 3D no less.

  14. I missed that one Acbar. Sounds like a highly sophisticated script suitable for Richmond kids of the Ray Bradbury school, particularly as those aliens could shape shift into the human form of particular townies and walk among other townies showing only an occasional tic of odd unfamiliar behavior. Talk about spooky ratcheting up into mega-spooky, turning townie against townie.

    Perhaps those Black Belizean Howlers felt the same growing disquiet spying Bacon far below in his skiff afloat amid crocs infesting the Monkey River.

  15. OK, I’ll confess, the river was not “infested” with crocodiles. We saw only one crocodile, and it was only five or six feet long, and it slithered away when it saw our boat.

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