At Hotel Sugar Beach we share our space – the grounds, the trees, our delicious jocote – with many indigenous creatures. You will meet our proud, stately iguanas, determined little dinosaurs and organic bug zappers. You will notice the rascally cotimundi and swear you can see them laugh as they frolic in the grass like carefree pups. Many guests particularly enjoy Andres, a friendly raccoon who comes around most nights to say hello and make sure things are running smoothly. We still marvel at the candy-colored parrots and wonder how anyone could put something so majestic in a cage.
Very close to our hearts are the monkeys, tightly knit nuclear families who we see at regular intervals and have come to know as neighbors. Most common in our area are the white face or capuchin monkeys, and the howlers, the bellicose brood who when riled can kick up quite a racket with a foghorn-like blast for which they were named. Most of the time the howler monkeys either lounge like house cats in the high branches or sneak along the limbs in search of tender fruit. Sometimes they just pass through, with papa in the lead, mama at the rear, the young ones sheltered in the middle, and a maiden aunt or grandpa flanking the side.
Civilization has created some hardships for the monkeys. Automobiles are a threat, but perhaps the greatest danger of all is the power lines that snake across the sky like sturdy vines. Recently, one of the howler babies in our neighborhood was orphaned when his mother climbed onto a power line and was electrocuted. It was a jarring tragedy that caused us to mourn for both mother and child.
In March, in an effort to avoid further accidents, we installed a monkey bridge across our property. A friendly crew from Catalinas donated their time for the installation, and Coopguanacaste, our local utility company, provided the bridges. Our own Sophia – a city girl who was afraid of wildlife when she first arrived at Sugar Beach! – made all the arrangements.
This story does have a happy ending. The monkeys are using their new bridge and have stayed away from the power lines. This morning, while Sarah, our resident manager, was taking a walk with her nephew Cip they spotted the orphan howler baby. He was traveling with another monkey family, but when it came time to jump to a new tree branch he became afraid and cowered on the spot. After a few moments the mama monkey went back for him. She cajoled him with her chatter and caresses, and in a short time the baby found the courage to make the leap. The rest of the monkeys had waited. Once the orphan was brought along, the family – with its newest member – continued on their journey.