People Say We Monkey Around…
Ok, we’ve been toying with your emotions for long enough.
We’ve teased and flirted and played coy, but now it’s time to finally give up the goods.
That’s right, folks. It’s time… for monkey pics.
But first, I have to tell you a little story of how we came to get them. This’ll just take a minute. Patience, my pretties.
On our way to Tamarindo to spend one of our last days in Costa Rica at the beach, we made a detour to Congo Trail, a canopy tour company located just outside of Playa del Coco in the small town of Artola. In addition to offering zipline tours, ATV rides and other invigorating outdoor pursuits designed for people with far more pep and energy than we have, the park features a butterfly preserve, snake exhibit and monkey refuge. Becs had visited the monkeys earlier in the year and loved it, and since she’s been pretty much dead-on with every other recommendation, we were dying to check it out.
So we arrived, wide-eyed and eager to handle us some monkeys–except, when we got there, the staff informed us that the regular monkey handler (how sweet of a job is that, by the way?) would not be in today and, as such, the monkey exhibit was closed.
Considering we’d just spent the last 40 minutes driving 20 mph down a dirt road, puttering past goats and straw huts and people who looked startled to see a large metal object moving of its own accord, this was not the news we wanted to hear. Fortunately, after a little haggling and pleading and cajoling, they agreed to let us in. All they had to do was prep the cage for us and then we could commence getting our sweet monkey action on.
Only there was one small problem:
Apparently, there’s a strict social structure amongst the capuchin monkey community (totally not the hippy, free-lovin’ Phish concert vibe I was expecting), and this bad boy just so happened to be the alpha male of this particular clique. And while he may look all “Aw shucks, ma’am” in the above photo, believe you me, he ruled his 9×9 foot domain with tiny Totalitarian fists. And he was positively pissed about us trying to come up in his house.
When initial efforts to remove El Capitan from the cage were unsuccessful, the interim handler got down to business. Sensing an ensuing battle, he called for backup and escorted the three of us outside the fenced area, suggesting that we go walk around, see the sights and come back in 15 minutes or so.
Not easily deterred, we let him guide us out but quickly scrambled to find a good vantage point on the other side of the fence from where we could watch the juicy drama unfold. And man, are we glad we did, because what happened next was the most unintentionally hilarious hour-long standoff involving five grown men and a monkey that we will ever see in our lifetimes.
It was hard to tell what the staff’s battle strategy was, but it seemed to involve each man taking a turn tentatively stepping into the cage, only to sprint out two seconds later with three pounds of screeching, frothing, pure and unadulterated monkey rage quick on his heels. At one point, one staff member finally succeeded in snagging the little guy in a net; however, in his excitement, he failed to follow through by covering the gaping hole at the top and the monkey ended up escaping and scaling onto the top of the nine-foot-tall cage. From there it proceeded to shriek and taunt the staff members, possibly even saying bad things about their mothers.
With this latest turn of events, the group below did a quick huddle and, after some lively discussion and finger-pointing, one of the staff members climbed up on top of the cage as well and the two reluctantly began an awkward interspecies tango involving zigging and zagging, advancing and retreating, parrying and thrusting, shucking and jiving. After about 15 minutes, the monkey finally decided it had had enough of making a fool of the staff and allowed itself to be humanely captured. Although Katie, Becs and I didn’t actually witness the resolution because, by that point, we were steeped in our very own melodrama of trying to laugh without peeing our pants.
But the saga did have a happy ending and the grim-faced, beady-eyed staff finally allowed us in.
And here’s what I learned about monkeys that day:
They are very affectionate.
Very, very affectionate.
Maybe even a little too affectionate.
They like to eat sunflower seeds and have atrocious table manners. As such, you will spend the rest of the day picking shells out of your hair and from down the front of your shirt.
They have zero qualms about personal space.
And although they are masters at volumizing, oddly enough they do not make the best hairdressers.
Mainly because they don’t take customer feedback well.
Yes, a monkey bit my scalp.
So that’s that. Thanks again to the Congo Trail staff for all the memories!
And, don’t worry, we made sure to tip them.
Our stylists were another story.