The Howlers

It is 5:15 a.m. at Melia Panama Canal and the Howler Monkeys have just started their serenade.

They howl most days. Especially in the morning. Starting at fiveish or sixish. Often at night.

But the Howlers have been mostly silent these last few days. It is Carnival in Panama. And, on Sunday dozens of mostly Panamanian people began to arrive in their white KIA’s, Honda’s, Hyundai’s, and the occasional Mercedes. By Monday their numbers had swelled to 500. Or, so I was told by one of the staff — Michael.

Like most Latin American countries Panama is a maraily Catholic culture. Carnival is excuse. To get away from work. To get together with friends and relatives not often seen. To treat the kids to time away from school and home. To sometimes misbehave. To be loud. To be pushy and inconsiderate (but that’s my Canadian coming out).

It seems to be slow season at Melia. I’m not sure why. I have not many Canadians here. I met a few when staying near Tocumen Airport, the main international airport that serves Panama, about a 45 minute drive from Panama City.

We arrived here at Melia on the fifteenth of February. One of the first things we did was go in the pool. And, enjoy the fierce sun. Briefly. I had too much sun in the pool at our hotel in Tocumen. The solar irradiance is high. Which is the main reason I come South in our dark, cold, and sometimes rainy Canadian Winter. For the relief of pain. And, the often joy of travel.

Thankfully, most of them went yesterday. Maybe to celebrate Fat Tuesday at home.

And, the Howlers who had been silenced began to sing their song this morning.

I will remember the Howlers as the highlight of my trip to Panama. We heard them the first morning we here. We seen them in nature documentaries but did not realize quite how loud they are. They sing largely to define and defend their territory.  And, apparently to compensate for the small size of their penis.

Anyway, we have to welcome this daily ritual. We sit on the patio deck of our unit and listen for their serenade. It is funny, scary, exhilarating — and I shall miss it.

I saw a Howler Monkey, draped over the large branch of a tree, sleeping in the shade. He was black and seemed bigger than a chimpanzee. We saw him on, what turned out to be, a 3-hour tour of Lake Gatun.

Oh. Oh. It is 6:10 a.m. and the Howlers are at it again — and I leave Panama in 2 days — maybe, forever.

Copyright 2020 Lyle T. Lachmuth All Rights Reserved