Growing up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, California and listening to the city-of-sirens that never sleeps, with street lights glaring from dusk to daybreak, I never knew there was an entirely different world awaiting us in the awesome jungles of the Caribbean. The bush-cleared expat farming community in the jungle highlands fills our senses with amazing and out-of-this-world sights, sounds, and smells.
Nightly Sounds of the Jungle
We live in an area surrounded by creeks and lagoons, so we get mostly sweet, yet sometimes annoying, sounds from frogs and toads most every night. After six years, they sound more like crickets and night birds to this past city-dweller, as you can hear on this fun video; “Frogs & Their Calls“, by The Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Along with crickets, bugs, and night critters, the most horrifying noise I’d ever heard was the snoring sounds coming from Howler Monkeys.
They sometimes hang out in our treetops directly above our farmhouse roof! The audio, “Howler Monkeys at Night“, from @jaguarstones (emanating from our Guatemalan/Belizean highland monkeys) will prepare you for the terrifyingly heavy-breathing sounds, as they echo throughout the pitch-black jungle nights.
Because Howler Monkeys travel in family packs, their nocturnal concert adds to the volume and intensity of their commanding low-pitched snores, and deep-breathing techniques, making them sound like giants in the night.
When in actuality, these small, harmless monkeys are about the size of a grown cat, and you barely notice them swinging and eating off of your fruit trees during daytime hours.
Scents of a Humid Jungle at Nighttime
Living in Hawaii for a while in the 80s and 90s, and traveling back and forth to visit home in Southern California, I can still remember stepping off the plane in Oahu to a burst of sweet, romantic scents of Pikake-floral leis presented to various travel groups upon arrival. I just assumed that living at the same latitude as Hawaii, Belize would also be filled with glorious floral smells wafting off the Caribbean coastline. But NO, just a horrid blast of heat, eagerly consuming any fragrances that might have been!
To make matters worse, living on a farm in the highlands, many miles from the beautiful Caribbean coast, where animals work for a living (as hands-free fertilizers), the scents are anything but floral or romantic! And when you think it couldn’t get any worse, nighttime rains bring pungent odors in through the open windows.
Happy for the cooling breezes on a sweaty night along the equator, you barely notice the smelly farm animals, though. It’s kind of funny when you think about it, but we got used to settling for cool-breeze tradeoffs rather quickly.
Overwhelming Sights of a Clear-Night Jungle Sky
Our farm sits in a brush-free jungle area. There are no streetlights or even far-away city lights. None; only the flashlight in your hand when venturing outside at night into pitch-black darkness. Clear evenings bring out more stars than there are black patches of the night to hold them in place. It can truly be an overwhelming sight to behold. There are so many stars visible that it’s difficult to trace even the largest of the constellations.
We had just arrived in Belize in time to see the last-of-four, in a Blood Moon (Super Moon) Tetrad, September 2015, and it was an eerie wonder to behold. We watched as the enormous moon slowly turned red, foretelling trouble worldwide (according to ancient Rabbinical teachings).
Likewise, the full moon at night makes our white-stone driveways and roads sparkle, as if snow-covered. And the Super Moons are always just a little frightening, as they rise over the jungle canopy, exposing a larger-than-life astral body appearing close enough to collide with earth. You can almost reach out and touch it!
Add to that, lightning strikes off in the distance, momentarily lighting up the darkest night skies into daytime, instantaneously. We had never been so close to multiple lightning strikes until moving to the cleared jungles of the Belizean highlands, where it makes for a spectacular light show to watch while I am gently drifting off to sleep at night.
Expats, have you tried jungle life, or farm life, coming from the big city? Tell us where you’ve landed and all the sensory overloads you experience there.
by: Cheri Majors, M.S.