“Mono Frito”

Thu, Sep 23, 2010

General, International, Outdoors

“Mono Frito”

There are times when a bit of comic relief can help a kid deal with a real shock.

Today in our Costa Rican village, it was unusually sunny. And on a day with no rain, we’d have been fools not to hit the beach and get in some bodysurfing.

There’s a muddy road that leads from the village to the beach. We walked along it, noting all the places where today’s sunshine had already started to dry up some of the muddiest potholes.

There were zapping noises up above. I noted to the kids that the electrical lines there didn’t sound all that safe. “Just remember that noise,” I warned. “You don’t want to be walking by that in a rainstorm or windstorm!”

But there was no storm today. We swam, we took photos, we built a sand castle, and we enjoyed the blue skies.

On the way back, though, there was a dark brown furry lumpy thing on the side of the road. My son had run ahead; he now stood about four feet away from the dead creature. I squinted in the glare. Was it a dog? Something more exotic?

Indeed, it was one of the local howler monkeys. It was an adult, and from the close-together, grasping position of its hands, you could see it might have been swinging on something, arms extended, when it died.

It hadn’t been hit by a car, even though my American sensibilities though of that as the first possibility.

No, it had swung up high, probably on a tree branch that brushed against that one particular electrical pole I’d warned the kids about—the one making the loud zapping noises.

The boys and their same-age, Costa Rican neighbor all stood there, speechless. The girl explained in Spanish that it wasn’t normal to see a dead monkey there. This wasn’t usual. I noticed that my son just stared and stared at it. “Come on,” I told him, after a couple of silent minutes. “I think you’ve seen it long enough.”

Then, later on, an American we know told all of us that electrical wires cause a lot of wild animal deaths in Costa Rica, especially of animals who climb trees. We translated the information for our young neighbor.

“Mono muerto…” I tried. “Electrocutado.”

“Electrocutado?” she said.

“Mono frito,” the American man said, and when he smiled, the girl paused for a bit, then broke into that kind of guilty, hesitant laugh that comes with such unexpected comic relief.

“What?” my son asked.

“Fried monkey,” I said. He gave me a puzzled look. Then he shook his head, and a little grin appeared.

“We’re just trying to put a smile on your face, that’s all,” I said. “It’s horrible to see something like that. The poor monkey. But now you see what happens when the electrical system isn’t completely safe, like it should be.”

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s not the monkey’s fault.”

“This is just how things are here,” I said. “We have to be really careful, just like the wildlife does. And lucky.”

One Response to ““Mono Frito””

  1. laura Says:

    This is a great story! Glad you are getting a bit of sunshine and what a great lesson in learning that its ok to grin ………comic healing…


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