I prepared for the journey up Mount Tangkoko at least 3 months prior to my visit to Indonesia. I took almost every shot recommended by the CDC: Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis B and Typhoid. I also treated all my clothes with the recommended sprays and then air-dried them. I purchased light weight long-sleeved shirts, a hat with flaps to protect my neck from mosquito bites and wore the maximum 40% DEET mosquito repellent. I would say all the money spent for this protection was worth it because I never got bit by a mosquito in the S.E. Asian forest of North Sulawesi. But on the other hand, I did get bit by a mosquito in Decatur, Georgia.
Receiving my shots from the Travel Health Clinic.
That’s me in the forest, covered up from head to toe, following cohort John Durmas.
It was such a beautiful day to go trekking in the mountains that 2 additional Indonesian teachers, Enjel and Dasi, decided to join host teacher John Durmas, cohort teacher Jon Pazol and myself. I think Dasi got caught up in the idea of trekking with the Americans because she wore a “dress” to go looking for primates in the jungle.
Dasi, Jon and Enjel.
We started our journey at roughly 3:30 in the afternoon and didn’t make it to the entrance of the Tangkasi National Park until after 5pm. I was anxious and wondered why we were getting there so late in the afternoon when it gets dark every day around 6:20pm. I was sure we would miss seeing the Tarsius primate.
Once we checked into the park our guide took us through the jungle to see the black “Macaque” monkeys who live at the foot hills of the mountain. These beautiful primates are sometimes mistaken to be apes because of their lack of tail. They only stand 2 ft. off the ground and males average weight is 21 lb. with elongated canines, while females are about 14 lbs.. Sulawesi and Pulau Bacan are the only two islands the Black Macaque lives on.
As the sun started to set, we trekked a couple of miles up the mountain to an area where the “Tarsier Monkeys” live. Of course our guide new which trees to check for them. As we waited for these nocturnal primates to come out another tour group, a family from France, arrived. They all came in shorts and t-shirts. All the literature I read said you should be fully covered in the North Sulawesi Forest. Obviously, I must have been the only one who took the literature seriously, because I was the only person in the woods fully covered. We all jockeyed for position around the tree in attempt to see this tiny animal as night fell. And though the sighting was brief, it did not disappoint.
Once it got totally dark, it was time for the nocturnal Tarsi to find food. Our guide thought this would be a good time to find a tarantula. I thought they were all crazy to look for tarantulas in the pitch black dark of night. Here’s how it went:
Another successful story about some crazy people.