While at Puerto Valdivia we were presented with a youngnight monkey not larger than a good-sized mouse. It wasa most interesting pet, and readily took to a diet of condensedmilk, which it drank from a spoon. My companion,to whom the little animal belonged, kept it on the window-sill,from which point of vantage it took a lively interest inall that occurred within its range of vision. It so happenedthat there was a very small crack in the sill, and this provedto be a matter of the utmost concern to the tiny monkey.Hundreds of times each day it crept timidly to the crackand peered down into it anxiously, although there was onlydarkness below. When we held the pelt of an animal nearit paid no attention whatever to it, with the single exceptionof the skin of one of its species, which it recognizedimmediately, and to which it clung tenaciously. When weleft the hot climate of the Lower Cauca and started on thereturn journey to Medellin the little creature was unableto withstand the cold of the higher altitude and died.
Although it was still early in the afternoon, we decidedto spend the rest of the day in Antioquia, as the pack-mulesseemed nearly exhausted; but it was not long before weheartily regretted not having avoided the town and madecamp out in the open plains. Our arriero had guided us tothe little hotel, where a matronly señora received us withevident joy and a great deal of ceremony, probably becausewe were the first guests in some time; we soon discovered,however, that she was not the only one to whom our visitgave pleasure. Fleas in droves appeared from the cracksin the brick flooring and made their way through leggings,122trousers, and all other wearing apparel as quickly and easilyas the proverbial rat running through a cheese; and whenwe entered our room, vermin of a still more objectionablecharacter rushed joyfully from the beds, walls, and chairsto gloat in hungry anticipation at their prospective victims.We erected our cots in the patio and spent a long, long nightout in the open.
At night there was always a heavy dew, and it rainedintermittently each day. On dark nights, and often aftera shower, the banks of the river where there was forestglowed with twinkling phosphorescence. Examinationshowed that the decaying vegetation was filled with myriadsof small, wriggling insects, greatly resembling our well-knowncellar-bug (Isopod), and one day we paddled formany hours through a mass of flying ants which had cometo grief in the river. The water was covered with themand the waves had tossed them up on the banks to a depthof several inches. Another thing that attracted our attentionwas the large number of bats. On one occasion weheard a dull rumbling among the granite ledges near camp,and not long after a stream of bats began to emerge fromthe cracks; from a distance they resembled a cloud of smoke.There must have been many thousands, for the black massescontinued to rise until darkness obscured them from ourview. Spruce records that on one occasion he saw not lessthan a million under similar circumstances. This bringsup an interesting problem. The individual range of these166bats is probably not very great, the result of which is thatimmense numbers of them are distributed over a comparativelysmall area. Now, if the struggle for existence is askeen as is often supposed, how can the female, encumberedwith her offspring fully three-fourths as large as herself,compete successfully with the unhampered males, and secureenough food not only for herself but also for her youngThe fruit-eating varieties might not suffer seriously fromthis handicap, but it does seem as if the agility of the insectivorouskinds catching their food on the wing wouldbe greatly affected.
Tropical rivers are noted for their treachery. One cannever be certain of their actions or character, even a fewhours hence. We had a striking example of this on theChimoré. Camp had been made on an extensive sand-bankone day at noon, as we planned to spend a few hourshunting and fishing in the neighborhood. The sun shonebrightly and there was nothing to indicate a change of conditionsin any manner whatever; but scarcely had thecanoes been unloaded and a fire built over which we intendedto do the cooking when we were startled by a dullroar that grew louder with each passing second; before we314had time to hurriedly gather our belongings and throwthem into the canoes a foam-capped, seething wall ofwater was upon us, sweeping down the river and carryingaway everything in its path. As the tidal wave, severalfeet high, dashed over the sand-bank, the imprisoned airshot up from the great cracks and rents in the sun-bakedearth, and set the raging mass of muddy water to hissingand boiling. In a few minutes only the higher mounds ofsand projected above the roaring inferno, and against thesehungry tongues of water lapped greedily until their baseswere undermined. Then the whole mass crumbled anddisappeared in the seething flood. Where our peacefulcamp had stood but a few minutes before there was now asea of agitated water. The explanation of this phenomenonis simple: A heavy rain had fallen in the mountainswhere the tributaries of the river rise, and the torrent ofwater dashing down the precipitous slopes had rushedinto the lowlands. After this the water was so muddythat it was unfit for use without special preparation. Inorder to secure a supply for drinking and cooking we boileda quantity of it; the sand was quickly precipitated to thebottom as the temperature rose, after which the clearwater could be poured off the top. In some instances theamount of solid matter carried by the water was fully 50per cent of the total volume. 153554b96e