Thursday, November 3, 2011

The night before, we worked out with Steffan that we would go on a walk through secondary forest full of palm trees, which would last only the morning. So after breakfast, we headed down the road to the trailhead. At one point a van passed us coming the other direction, with machine guns pointed out the window and a guy whistling for us to pull over. We pulled over, and didn't look over our shoulder to see if they had stopped or kept going. While sitting there, another van full of soldier went by, then a big truck, and finally a third van. After everyone was gone, Steffan told us the truck had money in it, and that's why all the guns were out. We would have taken pictures, but didn't want to get shot, and in any event we were too busy trying not to soil our pants.

On the hike, there were lots of palm trees, but we were unsure of what was what - nothing really stood out in terms of appearance. Thankfully it was not raining, so that was good. Also, the terrain was much flatter, and no one else was around. Perhaps because of that, we actually walked right up on a sifaka who was as surprised to see us as we were to see it. Steffan told us it was a Milne-Edwards Sifaka, a mom and baby. Steffan then told us about the predators for lemurs, which included the fossa, big birds (which take out small lemurs), and the mongoose (which prey on small and baby lemurs).

Steffan told us a couple of interesting mongoose stories, which show their cunning and intelligence. One story he told us was about how mongooses (mongeese?) would catch frogs and cicadas in their mouth and bring them into town, then drop them in places where chickens would find them. The moongoose would then lie in wait until the chickens came out, then catch and eat the chickens. The second story involved the moongooses rubbing their tail in spider webs to make the tail sticky, then twirling the sticky tail around in a bee's nest to get all the bees. After getting a tail full of bees, the moongoose would jump in the water to drown all the bees, and then go back to the (empty) nest to eat honey in peace. Knowing this, we wondered why the hundreds of local mongooses near our house in Pahoa had not managed to catch the chicken that was tearing up our yard over the summer.

In addition to the palms, we saw lots of cool Pandanus. One looked like a tree, and Steffan told us it was Pandanus particularus (sp?). If we can grow this in either Vista or Pahoa, we may give it a go. We saw a couple of large birds, including the Blue pigeon (which has red eyes) and the Golden kua (which was way up in a tree, but even from the ground looked enormous). We saw some more Red-bellied lemurs, and then Steffan told us about the five different families of lemurs.

The five families are Indriidae (includes wooly lemurs and sifakas), Lemuridae (includes brown lemurs and ringtail lemurs), Daubentoniidae (just the Aye Aye), Lepilemuridae (most of the sportive lemurs), Cheirogaleidae (dwarf and mouse lemurs). The Aye Aye is the only lemur in its family, and is different because of its one long nail, which is used for getting grubs out of trees, a bit like a woodpecker.

Near the end of the hike we saw the Paradise flycatcher, which keeps mosquitoes down in the park. The male has a long red tail, but wouldn't stay still for too long to get a good look. But no matter the appearance, if it takes out mosquitoes, we should try to get some for Pahoa. At end of the hike, we saw carniverous plant and some frogs.

We were back at the hotel by 11:30, and as with the day before, we followed up lunch with a nap. Crystal wasn't feeling so good, so stayed behind while Justin went on night walk. The "Night walk" was like the Charlie Brown special with the Great Pumpkin. It was just 20 or so people waiting around for some mouse lemurs to appear, hoping that the constant mist would not get any heavier. Justin noticed that the guides had smeared bananas on some trees, which no doubt was why mouse lemurs would appear consistently. They eventually came, everyone got pictures, and then everyone left - not exactly like walking around in the dark trying to find stuff. But then again, we'd already done that on our previous walks, and it was raining and a bit cold, so whatever.

Back at the hotel, we played Scrabble again, this time with Justin finally winning, after Crystal winning the previous two days on the very last move. At dinner, there were more large tour groups, and we tried to guess what sort of group tour had been set up based on how people were dressed and what they were speaking. One would think that there would be certain tours that would cater to young adventuresome folkls, other tours that would tout luxury, others that were for bird enthusiasts, etc. But some of these groups seemed to cut across all ages and backgrounds. For example, there was one lady with Tammy Fae Baker makeup, a boa and a fancy necklace, which seemed entirely out of place given where we were. We figured if there were leeches on the hikes outdoors, fancy jewelry and clothing at dinner was unwarranted.