Ecuador Travel Adventures
Ecuador Tree Branch
Gail Howard's Adventures in the Ecuadorian Jungle
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Although Quito is 15 miles south of the equator, it is quite cold at night because of the high elevation (9,530 feet). We were told that Chichico would not survive in Quito. For his bed, I filled two wine bottles with hot water and covered them with a towel and placed them in the night stand next to my bed. I wrapped Chichico in a piece of flannel, and over that a rabbit fur. I lulled him to sleep in my arms (which took about 30 minutes), and gently laid the sleeping hunk of monk on his warm bed.

I had little sweaters finely-knit for him—a wardrobe of cool city clothes. His tiny sweaters when laid flat, measured 2-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches. His favorite one was gold with brown trim. The first time I dressed him in the red sweater with white trim, Chichico cried shrilly as if he were being electrocuted. He tried to chew it off. We were stunned, but our young neighbor observed, "No wonder! It looks like a fairy sweater." And our man Chichico was very macho.

I gave Chichico a bath and let him run loose in the room. When I went downtown with him tucked inside my coat, people thought I was talking to my arm pit.

Chichico went everywhere with us. He would not tolerate being alone.

One day he got loose in a shoe store where he knocked down a display of a dozen purses and plastic holders. The employees thought he was so cute, it didn't matter.

We stopped at a fruit stand for watermelon. In a flash Chichico padded all over my big piece of watermelon, so I let him eat it and ordered another one for myself. We munched on pieces of equal size. He ate it all, right down to the white part. After that I didn't dare hold him.

Since we were only a block from home I let him run on his own two, or was it four, feet. The leash was two meters long. Chichico was in a hurry. He dragged me as fast as I could follow. I felt as if I had a Great Dane on the end of the string, but passing cars probably thought I had nothing on it. The day in the big city was almost too much for Chichico. He ate a chicken leg and crawled into bed and pulled his covers over himself.

Chichico liked to be where the action was—and to be the center of it. He was "on" all the time and needed a human audience so he could show off. Although he was always busy—very, very busy—he could be still for hours, in rapt attention in a theater. He loved to watch movies and Inca dancing.

Otherwise, Chichico was constantly active and into everything. When I bawled him out for some misdeed, he chirped happily and ignored me—pretending it didn't concern him. But he was capable of being deeply hurt when he felt an injustice was done to him. When Terry and I discussed Chichico's future, about how impossible it would be to get him across borders, his unhappy glassy stare was pathetic. He was so intelligent, I thought that if his insect- catching tongue weren't so long, he could talk.

If Chichico saw a fly too far away to catch, he chirped to us, begging us to get it for him. Usually his eyes were innocent, cute and playful. He could also look ferocious. When he was tired, he put his arms around my neck and hung there like a necklace.

In a restaurant, I tied Chichico to the table leg. In a flash he jumped into my lap and grabbed food from my plate. I picked him up and confronted him nose to nose, scolding him. He shrieked back louder but he knew he was being naughty and gave back the food. Then he pacified himself by bouncing a 'rumba' on my ankle—as we delicately alluded to his self-sexual activity.

I wasn't the only one who fought with Chichico over food. In a taxi, he stole a gum drop from Terry and they fought over it like kids. A gum drop for him was the size of a watermelon for us. Chichico feasted on flies, moths, cockroaches (when available) and fruit. His teeth were very human looking (no fangs) but his tongue was long and fast when he zapped an insect. When giving him medicine for his parasites, I tried to hold his mouth open but his long insect-catching tongue kept flinging out the pill. The solution was a banana sandwich with the pill tucked inside.

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© Copyright 2006-. Gail Howard.
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