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We upright primates consider ourselves the civilized in the natural world. We distinguish ourselves by our own defining definitions, separating our communities between the developed states of our species and those that we claim to be still developing.

The real irony, besides us homo sapiens who tend to make way too much noise with boom boxes screeching out inaudible music lyrics as well as the reality that we have a panache for pushing our car horns at intersections around the globe reflecting in turn the true impatient nature of our species, the loudest animal in the wild kingdom turns out to be not us but some smaller primate on the living planet. And regardless of its size, the means by which it uses to communicate with its own can be heard from as far away as three miles.

For that kind of direct communicating, we humans require artificially created mechanisms like those dastardly 'weapons of destruction' we generally reach for to get the attention of our fellow foragers. We argue more and more about oil and food and dollars and trade deficits and books that we disagree upon. Just maybe if we had simply resorted to talking to each other after we came down out of the trees, well just maybe the monkeys amongst us would not have decided it was safer to live their life high upon the branches in the upper canopy of life.

The first time I came eye to eye with the truly loudest beast that roams and forages the planet was one day when I finally took the time to venture south by boat from the fishing village of Placencia. That bright and sunny Belizean day my guide weaved our boat through the mangroves as I and my fellow passengers sat back in awe, not only at the manatees that we noticed off the bow of the boat, but also at the precision by which the captain could manoeuvre the skiff through the cut outs of overhanging branches.

From Placencia we soon passed the docks at Big Creek where ships from around the world came and went with their treasures. Along the way our guide pointed out in the distance a shoreline retreat, an isolated stretch of beach where upon the return trip to Placencia we met the proprietor, a one Bob of Bob's Paradise. Interestingly, Bob served ice cold beverages to passing patrons of the tour boats that would take the time to slow down to show us their world from his paradise in the nude. No doubt it was not a pretty sight despite the tropical bliss that surrounded Bob and his little piece of paradise. Regardless, since that day, Bob's vanished, for the entire place was wiped off the face of the shoreline by a hurricane that ravaged the area a few years back.

Soon after we passed Bob's Paradise, we reached the aptly named tributary of Monkey River. After a quick stopover for beverages and some local conversation with the villagers of Monkey River Town, we turned our focus up river. The sun was gloriously bright that day and despite the heat of the early morning, the birds were abundant and littered the shoreline.

About three miles up the twisting switchback turns of the Monkey River, our boat suddenly changed course and tacked directly to the shoreline. There standing under the overhanging trees that laced the pristine river was a towering Belizean man.

To this very day I can see the man and the determination in his warm eyes peering back towards the boat welcoming my fellow adventurers and I to the shore of the Monkey River. As we disembarked from the skiff, he immediately stressed the importance that we had to be on the move, for the troop of primates that we had all paid hard earned dollars to witness in the wild were indeed at close range.

With this in mind, collectively we started to run. Some of our group were prepared better that others for the adventure. Though some stumbled on the muddy banks of the Monkey River, others gained their footing quickly and ran in close pursuit of the man as he darted first left then right down a narrow trail that dictated the direction he had little doubt that the animals were moving.

And just as quick as he started, our newly anointed riverside guide stopped just as suddenly in his tracks. As we all stood quietly, he seemingly took a whiff of the air and turned to look down upon us to say, "They are here, I can smell their urine in the wind."

Now I have to say this was about the same time that two older women on our tour from Atlanta caught up to the rest of the group of us that had followed the instructions of the man to the letter that required that we stay in hot pursuit in a complete veil of silence.

MADISCO Marketing & Distributing Company Ltd, Belize City, Belize
MADISCO Marketing & Distributing Company Ltd, Belize City, Belize

As the on boat polite southern women approached they disregarded the orders of our bush guide and asked, "Where in the hell are these damn monkeys?? This is not the tour I bought back in Placencia..."

That's when our guide seemingly and rightfully oblivious to the perimeters of their peninsula package, once again picked up the pace and left those amongst us, that were concerned with the trivia of economic returns of an adventure trek, and bolted into the bush. I and two others, a couple from the town of Gars on the Kamp river of lower Austria, we followed our guide in hot pursuit.

Moments later, the quietness of the jungle was broken by the penetrating sounds of the beasts we had travelled so far to see. For about five to ten minutes the sounds were deafening, and then, just as soon as they had broken the solitude of the jungle they seized, they stopped. That was the moment when the big man of the Monkey River stopped, looked back down towards me and the two Austrians and smiled. And then we followed his long arm upwards as it pointed into the lush of the canopy some ten meters above where three Howler Monkeys quietly were foraging amongst themselves. Not only will I always remember the sight of those Howlers in the wild, forever I shall think of that smile of the man who delivered me to the loudest animal on the planet.

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