Equator Gringos

December 6, 2007

Monkey Town

Filed under: Ecuador, expat, South America — Tags: , , , , , — lstollin @ 12:46 pm

tallrivercouple-resized.jpgOver Halloween/All Saints’ Day weekend, we visited Tena, Ecuador, billed in the Lonely Planet Ecuador guide as the Whitewater Capital of Ecuador. With River People, we rafted two beautiful rivers, the first featuring vertical cliffs draped with two-meter fern leaves, occasionally punctuated with tributary creeks that dropped bridalveil cascades straight into the river. The water was beautiful, the guides were great, the lunch was astounding, and altogether it was a beautiful day.

The other main attraction of Tena and neighboring Misahualli were the monkeys. Misahualli had a band of little Capuchin monkeys running wild on the river beach, and they delighted us with their agility and antics, particulary the moms with babies holding on tight to their backs, and a great interspecies match between a tiny dog and a monkey or three (see brief video below).

Tena itself has this great little park on the peninsula formed at the Pittsburghesque confluence of two rivers right in town. In it there run (semiwild) monkeys of at least three varieties, and a sweet if huge tapir (think horsepig with a very sawed off trunkish schnozz). One of the three monkey varieties is really a marmoset, and a fourth variety had to be caged. The spider monkeys are in confinement not because they would vacate the premises. but because of the havoc they wreak. The male supposedly messed with visitors to the park, particularly bringing children to tears. If the female is released, on the other hand, she crosses the river and makes a beeline for the nearest restaurant or private home, barges into the kitchen and trashes everything she can get her hands on. This kind of delinquent behavior is typical of animals that are intellectually overqualified for their ecological niches – other examples include blue jays tormenting squirrels and cats, crows and pack rats stealing shiny objects, and the high school valedictorian getting busted for shoplifting. More monkey business: if you are a rock climber, or if you just like watching monkeys display their grace and agility in trees, you have to check out this video, taken at the park in Tena, Monkey Working the Crux.



  1. I’m so happy to se there’s so much in the way of natural resources around. Just saw the start of an online movie that might be good enough for the classroom. It’s definitely not a balanced view but it IS, IMHO, a real wake-up call.

    Please let me know what you think.


    And in case I forget… Feliz Navidad, y’all!

    Comment by DJ — December 14, 2007 @ 8:36 am

  2. […] That was perhaps the worst of it in terms of danger, but arriving in the wee hours of the morning to Tena, we were the last to get off the bus, and incredibly discovered that our bags were no longer there. No one quite knew what to do, so the driver motioned us back on the bus and we rode around the deserted streets looking for signs of our bags. No luck. Exhausted and still in shock back at the bus station, we began tallying what we would need to replace the next morning, what we could live without, and the monetary and functional value of it all. At this point a pickup loaded with probably 15 people came tearing in to the parking lot saying they’d found a bag among their things that wasn’t theirs! So my pack was recovered, but not Joy’s. The driver told his assistant to get on the pickup with them (now 16 people?) to see if Joy’s bag could be found. Ten minutes later at least as many people returned with Joy’s bag. When they’d gotten off the bus, this giant extended family had just said, “all those bags are ours.” The bags had not been opened and everything was perfectly intact. The rest of the weekend was awesome, as recorded in Monkey Town. […]

    Pingback by Nightmare starts to great trips « Equator Gringos — December 15, 2007 @ 1:28 pm

  3. ¡hola Joy!
    te saluda Carina de la escuela de español, hoy revisé estas páginas y me siento muy feliz porque veo que la estan pasando muy bien y además estas visitando el Ecuador,pienso que tu español debe estar mucho mejor y eso es bueno para ti.
    Te envío un abrazo y que este año sigas disfrutando tu estadía en Ecuador. Saludos a tu esposo

    Comment by carina escuela de español — January 15, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

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