Beaches, Jungles, and Monkey Urine in Puerto Viejo

Wild Capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus) on a tree near a riverbank in the jungles of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Photo via Wikimedia by Storkk.

Wild Capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus) on a tree near a riverbank in the jungles of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Photo via Wikimedia by Storkk.

One experiences certain moments in life that define the way we think for the rest of our living days. A few for me: seeing the sunrise over Mt. McKinley in Alaska, watching a wolf howl 20 yards from my car in Yellowstone National Park, witnessing a full moon rise over the ocean in Mexico, my first Radiohead concert in Montreal. Recently, here in Puerto Viejo, in the lush embrace of animalistic jungle, I was witness to something the likes of which I have never once considered, much less thought even possible.

It started with a stunningly gorgeous, hot, and sunny day; the first in a long succession of seemingly endless rainy days. It was finally possible to do your laundry, hang your clean clothes out to dry in the sun, possibly rid your bathing suit of that offensive mildew scent infiltrating the lining like an uninvited guest with foul smelling feet. The ocean was clear and calm. While I treaded water I watched the sand below become an underwater aurora borealis as it undulated with the movements of the waves above. The water was that quintessential turquoise that you see in travel brochures; the balmy water beckoning you to come visit or perhaps even live there. But what that travel brochure doesn’t tell you are the hardships of living in a tropical place. Yes, Puerto Viejo is a bit of a dreamscape with the jungle abutting the beach; however, it is also a place with an abundance of wild animals that, quite frankly, don’t care much about you. Wild animals that partake in the same basic toiletry needs that humans do. I now have an understanding that, just like the chances of a bird dropping its morning business on you, there are other, bigger animals that you are equally as likely to be the target for.

I spent the afternoon floating in the natural pools made by coral reefs in Playa Chaquita, intermittently sitting under a palm tree seeking shade in the midday heat. It felt like it had been forever since I had been able to enjoy a perfect beach day, sweating in my skin going in cycles between a bit of sun, a bit of shade, and a bit of salty water, a slow carousel ride of choices. Hunger finally drove me back to my bike and a slow, meandering ride returning to my home. The sun was hunkering down towards the horizon and I was biking right towards it, squinting and brushing sweat away from my eyes.

View of the beach at sunset in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Photo via Wikimedia by Letartean.

View of the beach at sunset in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Photo via Wikimedia by Letartean.

Quite suddenly, I was surprised to see a steady and rather thick stream of water coming from the sky. The sun was shining right on it, giving it that pre-sunset golden glow. Could it be one random, very isolated tiny and thin rain shower? Perplexed, I looked up at the power lines, wondering if there was water dripping from the lines. Huh, I thought, that doesn’t make any sense. I took my gaze off the power lines as I heard a motorcyclist revving down the road towards me. He drove directly under the stream. Right after, a small branch fell from above. The stream of liquid stopped. I looked up again, this time much higher than the power lines to the trees above. No, no way. Did I just witness what I think I witnessed?

In a tree branch, over the power lines and street was a monkey. A monkey who had just finished urinating. On an unassuming passing motorcyclist. And then, as if in jest, threw a branch down as if to say, “Suckaaaa!” Passing by the puddle, the acrimonious smell furthered the proof of what I had just seen. Disbelief quickly turned into a bent-over, stomach-clenching laughing fit while still on my bike. How was it that I was so lucky to have witnessed something so strange? Once, I was relieving myself in the woods and oddly enough, was the unfortunate target of a bird’s droppings. But to drive underneath a monkey’s stream of urine while on your motorcycle is of a completely different caliber. Did the guy know? Did his clothes reek afterwards? Did he think he was just shot by an errant, random, very tiny rain shower? Did he even notice?

I learned an important lesson that day. Here in the jungle, where monkeys are high above, when you are biking underneath the trees, keep one eye on the road and the other on the lookout for random streams of liquid coming from above.

Bekka Burton

About Bekka Burton

Bekka Burton is addicted to conquering fear, stepping outside of her comfort zone by traveling and acquiring rusty bikes and riding them everywhere. She sold everything she owned in Rochester, NY and moved to Central America on a one-way ticket to teach English, write, learn Spanish, eat fresh mangoes and papayas, swim in the Caribbean everyday and meet other global wanderers.