Meet Jose Francisco Ruiz Arnaldo Castellano, self taught Monkey Wrangler.
Born to Colombian parents and living in a ramshackle house on the hotsprings, he charges $2 per head to enter his yard and jump in rustic stone lined pools of hotness…but the monkey show is free.
At first glance you might realize that Jose is displaying a fine choice in outerwear – the entire getup is pure Mexican. From the boots, to the faded jeans, to the scorpion casted belt buckle, the pearl button shirt, and the straw cowboy hat.
Here he is wrangling this slightly creepy capuchin monkey with the most delicate touch.
And here is the capuchin in a tree swigging a bottle of the local rum. Quite normal in these parts.
The hotsprings were within a few yards of us, then by the hand of God the heavens were parted and down poured the most horrific amount of water you can not even possibly imagine. Within minutes entire fields turned into moving oceans of brown foaming torrent. A once pleasant forested pathway showed us no mercy on the mile swim back to the car as we made way through waterfall and whirpool alike.
Nonetheless, this journey was not about discovering thermal springs, but rather a wild monkey reserve located deep in the jungly mountains of Panama’s Continental Divide.
The monkey reserve had unfortunately closed down due to financial issues, so we had to settle for this captured dangerous monkey on a leash tied to a tree located in some random eco-hostel on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere.
He was in fact quite pleasant, contrary to the warnings of the sign pictured above, and thus he satisfied our desire to see a wild animal by week’s end.
At the bus stop, nonchalantly waiting for my ride back.
Thanks to Rebecca and Kristin for a day of unintended adventure.