Animal Experiences in the Jungle

Noise at Night

Last year there was not so much noise, you never know where we were working in the day. But the night is different. Sometimes, in the night, one or two people pass down here on the road. I’m up there, I don’t know, and I’m over the champa. Sometime I hear a little noise, but its just like birds in the night, like the bush animals. Like passing, those gibnut [Agouti paca], and armadillo. Those are the ones that are feeding in the night. Those are the noise I hear around the camp at night.

Evidence of Deer and Peccary

I tell you, last year I was at my champa, I come straight my champa there, and one walked right outside my champa, I never chased him, he walked and going down, over west side. A big huge mule deer. Then the next time I come tie Niña [Teo’s horse] in the evening to change him over there. We see one, two antelope, and different types of brocket deer. They look that small one brown and white. Those sharp little horns they have, and they sharpen their horns on the trees that I know. The deer horns, those antelope sharpen their pegs there.

And Peccary. We have wary [Peccary]. Ahaam ,the wary don’t have horns, they have teeth. And they eat the sap from the tree, so you can know where the wary pass, where the peccary pass. You know where the armadillo pass, but the armadillo doesn’t cut trees, he doesn’t have teeth. And the gibnut, those are the ones that cut trees.

A Gibnut in the Hole

Oh, over the Chorro, ... . this place they call Chorro, where contains the same mound of El Pilar. A guy over there found, he, .... He have little puppy, a hunting dog. And the little puppy, he went hunting by himself. And when these people hear this little dog barking, they run behind the dog. When they found the little dog gone right in a little hole for the animal. And the hole, it almost show like it’s an impossible chultun. When they get there on their own, they see this hole, and they went inside. Inside the chultun-hole, there was a gibnut! But this gibnut was sitting right in a big jar! .... in a big basin [ceramic basin]. While they were taking out the gibnut, they found the small jar, a little plate. And they found, many more things; they found, how do you say, in the corner of the chultun. They have to chase the animal out and they didn’t get this animal. Because if they shoot, they going to shoot the plate. So they decided to chase the animal, and to take out whatever they see where the animal was and where the animal was, there were many little artifacts they took out from the chultun.

The Damage left behind by the Tapir

We have mountain cows. Those are wild, and like a sort of short cattle with a big snout. See, the mountain cow doesn’t have horns. Like the pig, but some short, have big head, like cattle, big snout. Ahaa, he has feet just like the cattle. And if he lick your hand, he going to take off all the skin it is left raw.

Well it’s no joke, he can damage, and cow is as true as cattle. If they see a champa at night with light. they just close their eyes and come in straight to the champa. And knock you down, and your nets, and everything you have, and God! they not looking back!! Ahah, one time I remember, .... in my chicle time. A man say, I never know about high wilderness and bush. I was young and the guy say, "Teo," he was telling me about the mountain cow, what damage it does to things, and if I saw it already? And I tell him "No, I never see a mountain cow yet; I’m from Corozal!" He wasn’t lying to me or trying to get me frightened, you know? Because I’m new to the jungle. So I say, ahm, "Okay, maybe one day we be lucky to see one.

So, it’s the next day we going to see that animal now, that mountain cow in the night! And everybody has a flash light. So our camp nearby, we know every chiclero has a camp here, a camp there. So all at once, we hear over the last camp, a man baling! It was on account of the mountain cow! See the champa got a little light, and he bore right into that champa. That poor man. That man had his raw chicle, he never cooked that day.. He had, I tell you, a deposit, a hundred pounds! So he has his chicle tied in that house- raw milk - the sap that he was going to cook the next morning. He was going to cook chicle, and not come out to bleed any trees the next morning. And that same night, that cow picked him up off his hammock. And there were four men in one camp. And he picked up those four men in camp, and everything, and kicked that away and destroyed that camp. Ahaa, just tell it like the mountain cow.

Snake at Night

And here at Pilar, .... how them animals and everything moving! One night I was sleeping, and when I woke up about twelve o’clock ..... I see a snake wriggling between the champa where I stay, going across. When I take my flashlight, and put it on him, I see he’s a big huge snake, he’s going across! I leave him and he goes over where I have my chaya trees, where I have my mango trees. I have an avocado tree there. So that goes between those trees...that snake gone that night.

And in the Time of Rain

So as we were talking about the snakes, them. I come back to this story about snakes. And, I’ve been a kind of concerned about snakes. I ask a little question, a while a go, last night. I found that the more you ask, the more you can learn. So I was on the same thinking last night, when a guy come by me and I told him what was taking place. He asked me what I was doing and I tell him my job. So he told me, "Teo, the snakes, in the dry, they don’t eat. In time of rain, that’s the time the snakes start to come out and eat. And whatever time lighting and the thunder strikes, they kill all the bad snakes. When the thunder strikes, that is going to kill all the evil animals that harm the humans beings in the world that are walking. And those are the things that condemn all of the snakes in the time of rain".

Because that is time they coming out, the biggest of snakes are out. And God strike them with that lightening and get them shock. If they are in a hole, and that snake is inside the hole will be dead too. He will not come out to be a serpent, or to be any bad animal on the face of the earth to go on eating people or destroying the animals, like the deer, or the jaguars, you know. Well, these are the things that when it’s raining it is beautiful because some whole days, it’s ... ahm ... cloudy, and a little glaze of sun. Sometimes for hours, you don’t see sun,. Sometimes for the whole day, you don’t see the sun, till in the evening, five o’clock, when you see the sun it’s just set, it’s setting. That’s the hour you see the sun.

Some Snakes are Poisonous and Some Are Not

Also, the snakes. The poison snakes them, they can get that poison from a poisonous frog!!! They catch that frog, and they suck the poison from the frog. There are some green frogs you know, and some brown ones. Those are the ones that the snakes they catch. And they create that poison, so that when it bites you, that poison hits you very fast.

And there are snakes that don’t have poison here, .... which is the boa. The boa snakes, those don’t have poison. And the one that have the poison ... is... the pit viper and the rattle snake but here in Pilar we don’t have rattle snakes. We only have Tommy Gaff, black tail, whipping snake, here it is whistle snake. And we have Coral snake, we have ... ahm .... those green snakes, Oh, ... there was that day when I was guiding the people that came to the site. The tourist were touring them, and the same time I met a snake, crawling down the pyramid. And then Clark [Field Director] told me" See the snake there!" And I never get to hit the snake when it was going down the pyramid. That was a big Coral, and so those are dangerous snakes we have, the Coral, and the Tommy gaff. Those are the poisonous snake we have. And that green snake we call Ishta Bai.