Ecuador Travel Adventures
Ecuador Tree Branch
Gail Howard's Adventures in the Ecuadorian Jungle
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He leaped on my shoulder, his long tail trailing behind. A moment later, my back was wet.

"Monkeys do things like that," observed Terry, "and if you insist on taking it, I want no responsibility in caring for it."

He was scrawny, sickly, mangy, filled with fleas—and totally irresistible. As I eagerly accepted the adorable gift, I asked the woman, "What does he eat?"

"Insects and bananas," she said.

"What kind of monkey is it?"

"It's called a Chichico." (I learned later, he was a full-grown Pichico Mystax logonotus Family: Hapalidae.)

She tied a string around his little haunches and quickly wove a basket to carry him in.

As we made our way back up the Rio Napo, we considered turning the filthy little creature free next time we touched land. But by then, Chichico had won both our hearts.

Back at camp in Tiputini, the screened-in dining room was covered with thousands of insects of many varieties, from fleas to super-sized moths. Chichico made a pig of himself. He must have been starving. A moth to him was the size of a surf board to me. Crunch, crunch, crunch. He even ate the dry wings.

In Tiputini, we were given a quantity of advice as to what to feed Chichico. One man recommended rice and potatoes. (Those two foods plus noodles and beans are Ecuadorian favorites. Sometimes they serve all four at one meal.) Another man told us that this kind of monkey eats only bananas; papaya was all right for variety. But Chichico himself, told us he loved to eat flies.

"Flies should be given to him only as a dessert because they are very sweet," said the wife of an officer. We wondered how she knew that.

Major Montesinos had flown in to Tiputini with another load of provisions, so he flew us back to Pastaza. Chichico busily munched flies during the flight.

Montesinos called us to the cockpit and pointed out the Auca huts scattered along the river, which is the only means of passage through the impenetrable jungle. Aucas kill any Jivaro who steps into their territory. A few years earlier, Aucas had committed atrocities on a group of missionaries who tried to save them. When we returned to Quito, Aucas were in the news for their most recent savage attacks on the Jivaros.

Before we landed in Pastaza , Chichico became sick on his first plane ride—as did all the other natives on board—and threw up semi-digested insects on the floor of the plane.

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© Copyright 2006-. Gail Howard.
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