A monkey sat on my head!!!!!!!!

I'm going to cut to the chase here, people...A MONKEY SAT ON MY HEAD!!!!! It was awesome! His furry, curly tail and his leathery little hands and....well, allow me to explain. Today was the day that we had to leave Manuel Antonio for Costa Rica's capital, San José. We had some time to kill in the morning and decided to check out the local scene from a different perspective - the water. Luckily, our amazing hotel staff (Hotel Plaza Yara rocks ;) ) was able to book us a last-minute boat tour of Damas Island, known for it's variety of mangrove species and diversity of wildlife.

"Walking" Mangroves
Mangroves are a shrubby sort of tree that thrive in the estuaries of Costa Rica where the ocean meets the river, creating a salty, sediment-filled water that few plants can tolerate. Enter the mangrove. According to National Geographic, "the forests mangroves form are among the most productive and biologically complex ecosystems on earth." They have crazy root systems that eventually trap sediment and dead leaves and actually CREATE land. Pretty cool.

But, enough about mangroves....back to the monkeys!! Our guide, Jorge, had lived in the area and run tours of the local waters for 15 years, and though he hadn't quite perfected his English, he HAD honed a relationship with a group of white-faced, or Capuchin, monkeys. As we approached a particular area of the mangrove forest, Jorge started hooting and hollering in a very disconcerting way...I was starting to worry that we had been motored into a complex ecosystem by a crazy man, but sure enough, the monkeys came running!!

They jumped onto the canopy of the boat and started pounding with their little fists until Jorge brought out a mushy half of a banana and gave them a little snack. Now, I know, I KNOW that feeding the animals is really bad for them in a number of ways, including losing a healthy fear of humans, ingesting pesticides, etc, etc...but, Jorge really seemed to think of them as his friends and himself as a bit of a caretaker. I know...it still doesn't really justify it, but before we even knew what was happening, there were monkeys everywhere nibbling banana...on our boat, on our heads, on our laps. Then, Jorge, took my hand and smeared a little mushy banana on it...one monkey grabbed my hand in his two little hands and licked it off. It was the weirdest sensation to feel his smooth, thick-skinned hands holding one of my fingers and my thumb and to meet his eyes that seemed to say..."yeah, I know this is kind of degrading, but, hey, I won't tell anyone if you don't." We watched in wonder as the monkeys explored the boat for awhile and then scurried off.

We wrapped up the day (after copious hand washing) with a typical Tico lunch of casado, which closely resembles breakfast...black beans, rice, fish (or chicken or beef), salad and potatoes, in a local soda. I was not a very good lunchtime conversationalist because most of the time I just thought about the monkeys on my head and giggled idiotically to myself...incidentally, I'm doing that right now and probably will be for some time :)

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