Struggle in the Jungle


Published July 23, 2014, last updated on April 9, 2018 under Voices of DGHI

By Christina Chao

The day began at 3:30am. My alarm goes off and I quickly try and stifle the noise. I’m in a giant room with my entire Bass team. PI's, students and field workers all under one roof sleeping in bug tents. I roll over and get dressed. I turn my air monitor on to warm up and kill time by brushing my teeth, putting on bug spray and shaking the bugs out of my rubber boots. I carefully pack my monitor back in its carry case and set off for my first survey spot of the day. I’m looking at air pollution as a result of indoor cooking and need to set up my monitor before and after meals. Armed with just my headlamp, I make my way down the path to the house. On the way, I manage to wake up every single dog on the block, each bark makes me start. By the time I’m at the house, I can hear my blood pounding in my ears. I make my way over to the prearranged spot and set everything up. I pick my way back to the bug tents slowly, hoping to keep the barking at a minimum. I crawl back into my tent and fall asleep.

6:00am rolls around and everyone is awake. Priyanka and I go to check on the monitor before breakfast. As we walk over, I tell her about the dogs this morning. We laugh about those struggles as we walk past the gate leading to the house.

“Hola Senora!” “Buenos Dias!”

After discussing a pick up time, we make our way back to the path. On the way I notice something in the trees. I can’t quite make it out until it swings into view. A monkey.

“Oh look, Priyanka! A monkey!”

As I point and look over the monkey and I make eye contact. The monkey makes a screech and all of a sudden I feel uneasy. It starts to climb down faster, keeping its eyes on us. “

Priyanka, we need to get out of here.”


“That monkey is coming for us!”

We laugh at the hilarity of what were doing while we jump over the fence and jog to the path. We look back over and the monkey has made it to the ground. It starts to run for us, on all fours, galloping quickly. Our jogging put some distance between us and the house, but not enough. Suddenly we hear the noise again. We turn around and the monkey is inches from grabbing Priyanka.


We take off down the path as the monkey pauses. Its momentary lapse in movement gives us a 5-foot lead. The first thing that crosses my mind is “Wahh! A monkey!” the second thing is “Can I outrun a monkey? What do you do when a monkey attacks? How fast can these things run? Should I throw food at it?”

After a 20-meter dash, our panic is overtaken by our laughter, and after checking behind us, we both double over in a fit of giggles. Luckily, more people have appeared on the path and the monkey is confused. We look beyond it to see part of our Bass team returning from another house. Every single one of them is laughing at our situation. Priyanka and I walk backwards back to the tents and collapse into chairs.

“What a morning.”