Fresh Air

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Slapping away yet another mosquito, I scrabbled and slid on the rough, gravel path. The steam rising from the earth fogged my glasses and gave credence to the affectionate nickname we had for this place: 'Hell'. It was the summer after sophomore year, and I wasn't sure what I had gotten myself into. There I was, 2500 kilometers from home in what was, for all intents and purposes, the middle of nowhere. I ducked under an overhanging tree branch and paused to listen to the muffled screech of a howler monkey somewhere in the distance. As it turned out, howler monkeys would be just one of the varieties of simians I encountered in that jungle, situated near the mouth of the Tempisque River in northwest Costa Rica. Reaching a clearing on the trail, our group, led by Carlos, a large, mustachioed man who habitually wielded a machete and a crossbow (the latter of which I never divined the purpose of) came upon a small band of white-faced capuchin monkeys, which proceeded to shake branches and throw sticks at us. It was the third species of simian to bombard me with wooden projectiles that week. Our group huddled together and stared intently at the monkeys, who responded by huddling together and staring intently at us. It...

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