From Rifles to Machetes

Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
Trip End Sep 25, 2012

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Flag of Paraguay  , San Pedro,
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Coming to South America in the winter months has its advantages. Tourism is lower so there are less people meaning less booking ahead and places/things to do are generally cheaper.
But it also means it is bloody freezing.
I packed mainly summer clothes, thinking that Patagonia was going to be the coldest place, and I was only going there for a week, so one jacket should be fine.
Well Paraguay is also, apparently, really cold. And one jacket is not fine.
I have no idea why it gets so cold, as the latitude is a couple of thousand kilometres north of Cape Town and I have never been this cold even there. And the elevation is something like 100m.
During the day it can be quite nice, and hot in the sun. 
But when the sun goes down, it's like I'm back in Jackson but without the right clothes. 
The last couple of mornings it has been 10 C (50 F).
When I put it into Fahrenheit it doesn't sound that cold. But it is.
We found a couple of plug-in heaters but the house is made up of slabs of wood with intermittent nails so it's not great for insulation. 
But at least it's not raining, right?
Today I went out with the "monkey people" to the Atlantic Forest.
The species of monkey found here is the tufted Capuchin, similar to the one in Pirates of the Caribbean. 
There is only one small group here because as I said before, this place has only been protected for a short time. They are very wary of people and while we got a nice view of them, it was very quick before they swung away through the canopy. 
Because they are so wary of humans, it is necessary to walk as quietly as possible through the forest. 
Being silent is impossible but making trails helps eliminate the pained grunts from tripping over vines and surprised yells from falling into the many holes.
So a big part of being in the 3-man monkey team is machete-ing new pathways. And 3 people are definitely necessary for this job.
The first goes through getting the majority of the branches out of the way. The second will slice the vines and other plants on the ground and the third will clear the trail and cut anything remaining. 
It's a tiring and painful, blistering process and it feels wrong.
There are few of these monkeys because their habitat is being destroyed. So people are here to study them but destroying a massive amount of their habitat in the process.
It seems completely backwards to me.

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