Howler Monkeys, Camping in the Jungle and Learning to Drive in Mexico

I woke up to the sound of howler monkeys in the middle of the night.  If you´ve never heard them you could confuse them with roaring jaguars or something even more frightful.

“Gibran, despiertate…escucha,” I said to the dark of the tent.  I was in the middle of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.  In other words, I was camping in a tent in the middle of the jungle.

The air smells like jungle sweat in the most delicious way.  It´s a humid mixture of moisture and this nut-like scent.  The birds chirp loudly and there is a constant insect buzz.  There is not a moment that you look straight ahead into the jungle and you don´t see something moving.  Insects abound and all species of birds as well, from vultures to sparrows to super noisy ones that I don´t recognize.  The squirrels here are a deep red and there are other small mammals rustling through the leaves at all hours.

I guess this is the part where I back up a bit and explain who Gibran is and what he and I are doing in the middle of the jungle sleeping in a tent.

Gibran and I met in Oaxaca City last April.  I was alone walking through the Zocalo and saw him drawing.  We started talking and for the whole week I was there, he and I were inseparable.  He was studying art there.  I forgot he had school and he did too, I think.

He heard I was coming to Mexico again and so we agreed to meet in Campeche City.  He arrived after a 15 hour bus ride.  I proceeded to somehow convince him that we should leave Campeche City, rent a car and then head to Calakmul.  He had no idea what he was in for.

First of all, most cars here are stick shift.  I only know how to drive automatic (although I doubt that will be the case for long) so Gibran has had to drive the whole way, letting me practice on some open roads.

Second of all, we are camping in the middle of the jungle getting woken up by the horrid sounds of howler monkeys (all my idea, by the way).

My whole reason for wanting to go to Calakmul is because it isn´t just a natural preserve.  Deep inside the jungle there exists one of the most amazing Mayan ruins.  Calakmul is rumored to be one of the largest ancient Mayan cities with an estimated 60,000 habitants at its peak.  It has the tallest Mayan pyramid and more stellae than any other ancient Mayan site. Atop of this pyramid you can see its rival Tikal in the distance (with binoculars).  In addition it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

More adventures to come in the coming days when I have a moment to get to a computer but until then remember that:  La vida es un placer.  Life is a pleasure. Besitos!

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