To Love the Jungle

our current house 'en la jungla'
our current house ‘en la jungla’

It was exactly a year ago that Mate and I moved out of a peaceful community not far from a wonderful river to this mountain jungle piece of property.  When we were first moving here I had seriously big feelings that we would not be here very long, that this was only for an unknown duration of time, not to mention my uncertainty of living so deeply in the jungle.  When we first arrived in this country I was very apprehensive about straying too far out into ‘the jungle’, or being outside during the night when the snakes are actively ‘on the move’, so when we moved here it was challenging to my ‘security net’, my ‘safety zone’, in a way.  As Mate was developing the spring for our water here he had the unforgettable experience of having an aggressive mama pizote (coati) come flying out of the jungle straight towards him, and a fer-de-lance popped out of a rock in the creek in front of the guy in front of him (subsequently whacked with a shovel in the nick of time).  The pizote stopped when the guys made a loud racket, but these critters are notorious for setting up a dog (very much like a jungle cat, leopard or puma or those kinds of kitties) so they can attack and kill the dog. And that viper flying out from under a rock in the creek?  Phew!  And you want ME to hike up the creek to look at the spring?  Have you seen those fangs?  Those snakes are aggressive and frightfully fast!

Okay, so we have been here for a year and I have fallen irreversibly in love with the jungle.  I walk in places with flip-flops that I would never have imagined doing a couple of years ago (never stand more than a few seconds in one spot – biting ants).  I have found baddie snakes in the bathroom down below and the kitties have brought them home – dead, of course.  The dogs bark at all kinds of things in the night, but for the most part we have established and maintained our boundaries pretty well here.  I am so thankful to have my dogs and cats!  They are terrific ‘notification specialists’ of anything that you could imagine to be an unwelcome intruder, and they know how to deal with snakes – amazingly.  However, that does not mean that they would never be harmed, and for this there is always concern.  And I as well am not infallible to the dangers.  But my comfort zone and awareness of my surroundings has changed tremendously, and this in itself provides a peace in living here – no fear, live and love living.

The environment is so alive, so incredibly beautiful, the wildlife so amazingly diverse and plentiful, there is so much always going on! The bird life here is absolutely amazing and a wonderful music to hear, as well as the ever changing activities going on all around.  We have so many of the common birds in abundance here like the red-backed black birds and the flycatchers, the toucans and the Fiery-billed Aracaris, the Crested Guans and the Chachalacas – which are the wild ‘turkey like birds’ that are always crashing through the treetops and they make the most amazing range of noises. DSC_0079 They sound like cats growling at times, and then there is a range of honks, squawks and grunts that they come out with; as they crash through the upper canopy with what seems like clumsiness and lots of wing flapping and noise, yet we also see them deftly moving from branch to branch with ease at other times.  The red-backed black birds are a medium size bird that lives in groups, they prefer our fruit trees for bug foraging and there is a pair that has established a nest in a lime tree.  I can see the nest from the front deck and so I watch them in the mornings as I enjoy my coffee and meditation.  The male is usually close nearby, especially if the female needs to come out for a break. DSC_0549 (2) DSC_0547 DSC_0526DSC_0527 She comes out and has a bath in the banana leaf while the male perches on the top, in vigilance he surveys the area looking for danger (the cats are the worst here) while she enjoys her bath, and then she returns and he relaxes.  It is such a joy to see!  The Aracaris have been having conventions around the yard recently and they all line up in the dead tree and discuss their agenda before they move on to wherever they are going.DSC_0498  The toucans are always around, depending on what trees are flowering and where the best feeding stations are, but they are always somewhere close and available to watch.  And then there are the groups of parrots squawking and flying in tight groups from tree to tree, there are the White-crowned Parrots and Orange-chinned Parakeets.  They are always chattering about something!DSC_0209

The rainy season has come in very early this year and with an intensity that is far from the range of ‘normal’ (if there is such a thing anymore!), and with that comes the spectacular thunder and lightning shows, the incredible pounding of the rain on the rooftop, the snapping and breaking and dropping of tree branches and trees.  With the rains come the chorus of frogs, as well, and the return of the lightning bugs.  This is our evening enjoyment, symphony of sounds with lights.  When the rain stops the frogs all come alive and there are these ‘tink’ frogs that make a metallic tinking noise, and when there are hundreds of them going off for hours in the evening it is almost like wind chimes made of light metal – what a sound!

I can hear the honking of the guan now in the distance, they are far from musical and their clumsy and loud crashing through the trees with their honking and squawking are less than a melody, but they have their part in the jungle song.  Especially when you see them with their brilliant red throat – their physical beauty makes up for their lack in musical talent!

The howlers have been in the trees right near our house lately, but I still have not seen them.  Yesterday I took my camera for a walk down the road in hopes of getting a glimpse and possibly pictures of the monkeys and with any luck a blue morph butterfly.  To get a picture of one of those is a feat, I have yet to see much available in the way of personal pictures of morphs ALIVE, and I understand why!  They have this incredible dance in flight, every flap of their big wings takes them up a foot or so, and in between their slow flaps they drop at least as much.DSC_0519  They bob up and down as they fly along, quickly moving left or right, or right back at you, and then they disappear!  I follow them if I get the chance but my camera lens has a difficult, if not impossible, time following and capturing.  They are always much easier to see and what seems to be a much better photo shoot when I do not have my camera available.  Hmm, could this be part of their magic and allure?  😉

The jungle is amazing and at this point I could not imagine living without all of this ‘entertainment’ in my surroundings.  Our search for another home has been difficult because thus far what we have looked at has been surrounded by plenty of people in tight spaces, the monkeys have not been in the picture, and although the birds are always in abundance no matter where you are here, the lack of the wild has been a disappointment.  However, we received an invitation to come and visit another place in the rainforest…to the south.  Our first look at a possibility there was very much in the jungle rainforest of wet, slimy, moldy, dark and dank, and snaky – not conducive to vegetable gardening at all, and always living in the wet and moldy conditions.  We had to say no, but we had also been rather excited about the idea…so when we received the call yesterday for another place in the same zone, quite a bit different kind of scenario, our excitement bubbled up again.  This is an area of a much grander scale of jungle and wildlife.  Everything we have here and more, a biologist’s and photographer’s dream, for sure.  And for Mate, the fishing is a walk away.  Room for horses, everything grows there, only a short period of the year is it ridiculously hot – but that is the way it is everywhere in this country.  The allure of moving deeper into the vast biodiversity of the jungle is alluring…

So now we have a few options to look at, it seems that a road trip is in order for us to go and see a few of these new ‘vistas’ of life, and feel what tugs at our heartstrings!  Either on the coast near the gulf or higher up in the mountains with rivers and waterfalls, we will know the spot is the ‘right’ one when we are there and we step into the feeling of it.  The times we are living in now are demanding us to make adjustments in our ways of looking at life, at what is important, at what we want to see as a part of our world, now is the time to choose our future with care and intention, because we will get what we ask for and we will end up where we are headed!

I have become clear on what makes my heart sing, it is definitely the jungle and the closeness of my critters in my life – wild and domestic (this includes Mate!).  It is worth giving it a go, because if it is good forever or only for a while, we can always choose again.  Our future is ours to define, to choose, to attain, and to create.  I think we are going to jump – more like leap – into a new life, and this is exciting!

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Home is where the heart is.


Author: Elena in the Jungle

Living a very simple reclusive and self sustaining life way out in the jungle with my husband, growing as much food and medicinal plants as possible, I find my freedom and sanctuary in the amazing and spectacular array of life that surrounds me, gifts of Gaia, most especially while traveling around on my horse.

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