Howler Monkeys, Leaf Blowers, and Conference Calls

Originally published July 11, 2016 – I just returned from ten days of vacation in Costa Rica.  We stayed at a wonderful all-inclusive resort located on Playa Conchal, touted as the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica.

And who am I to argue?

Unbeknownst to us, our rooms were located along the main Howler Monkey commuter line.  That is, twice daily the mango trees next to our veranda filled with a troop of twenty to thirty Howlers, feeding, howling, and posing for pictures taken by vacationing logisticians.

For those of you that haven’t had the chance to hear a Howler in person, they are the loudest land animal, topping out at around 130 decibels (jet engines are 140 db).  They sound like demons welcoming tortured souls to the gates of hell.  Here’s a link to audio recorded by a traveler in Mexico:

For ten days, that was my wake-up call.  About 6 a.m., the male howlers would start hooting, working up to their full blown howls.  By then, I was wide awake!  I’d grab my camera and head out to see what I could shoot that morning.

To my amusement, I found the monkeys were usually talkative in the morning:  if I hooted and howled at them, they’d usually respond.  And I could  usually get some good pictures.

Now, Dr. Doolittle I’m not, so I’m not sure if I was picking a fight, giving directions to the beach, or asking for a date.  But I like the shots I was able to get.

However,  what was most engrossing was in the late morning, when the grounds crew would come by, using leafblowers to clear the walkways.  The roar of the leafblowers infuriated the monkeys!

The monkeys would become highly agitated, screaming at the leafblowers.  They would roar and howl, screaming their anger at the groundskeepers, who had heard it all before, and wore headphones to dampen the din.

And after twenty or thirty minutes, when their work was completed, the groundskeepers would turn off their leafblowers, and move on to their next job.

The howlers, satisfied their mad howling had accomplished much, fell silent, and went back to eating their mangoes.

And I, convinced I had just observed the perfect metaphor for most office conference calls, went back inside to jot down my thoughts.

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