Doing field work sometimes means doing forest work. To enter the forest, we had to cross the river by zodiac boat. My tracker was carrying my camera gear with him which is a luxury that I am unaccustomed to. When I am traveling with Theo, he has to contend with his own camera gear. It’s “every man (or girl) for himself” when you are in the bush.

Working in a rain forest is amazing (as Pete knows only too well living in Ecuador) and is filled with wonder and surprises at every turn. A rain forest is so full of life. Occasionally one must become overly acquainted with life in the forest. Like yesterday, when leeches became my most intimate friends. But today I had hundreds of mosquitos who fell in love – with me. I did not return their affection however. But they are more often than not a necessary inconvenience – especially when measured against a really good looking red head with a beard. After we crossed the river, we went into the forest and walked and listened and walked until we were rewarded with a great crashing coming from above. Is it a troup of gibbons or macaques? Or are we lucky enough to find a Pongo abelii – a Sumatran orangutan? What an exciting moment to see a hairy blotch of red in a sea of green. This golden bearded hunk was my greatest hope today – and there he was – hanging in front of me in all of his hairy red glory.

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What can I say. I am a sucker for a guy with facial hair! I mean, just look at him! Is he hot, or what?

J19A0355We were also lucky enough (with a tracker and the skills of Darma) to find a full grown dominant male with the big cheek flaps. He was a lazy bugger and moved as little as possible. He barely lifted his massive head to follow my movements below.

J19A0522When it became apparent that the King of this forest was not going to move – at all – and that the clouds WERE moving very fast, we decided to make our way (QUICKLY) out of the forest and back to the village. When the heavens open up here, everyone runs for cover. I have never experienced walls of rain that make you feel as though the world is coming to an end – the noise is deafening and it’s a wonder that anything is left standing at all. The orangutans hate rain. It’s no wonder. It’s so wet and humid here that clothing and even your hair never dries. Orangutans easily get parasites because their fur can’t dry out, and being solitary animals, they don’t groom the parasites from each other.

When we got back to the village, I dropped off my camera in my hut and barely made it to the restaurant (perched on the river) when the clouds gave way and a deluge of water dropped en mass. Wow. Because Theo and I live in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico, we are thankful for every single drop of rain. There I sat with my icy cold glass of Coke Cola and marveled at the green, the hairy red, the torrent of water and the goodness in so many people.

~ Jami Tarris

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