Friday, March 6, 2009

One of my greatest fears

While living in africa i developed an extreme fear of monkeys, but most specifially for THESE monkeys. Just doing a flickr search for these pictures has my heart racing. I am pretty rediculously terrified of these jerks.

one of the best thing about our time in Kenya was that it was Landon's job to put together a more extreme adventure program for Brackenhurst Adventures as a follow-up ministry (business) to the ropes course team building/leadership training. So he often was at Hell's Gate National Park. It was a pretty bumpy ride from Limuru to HG. We actually drove in the dirt on the side of the road that was at a 60 degree angle rather than brave the actual paved road. It was on this drive into the Rift Valley that I saw my first glimpse of African wildlife, something i will never forget. My first time into Hell's Gate was not with Landon at all, actually (he was taking a group up Mt. Kenya), but with some people i had only met days before. They were telling me about the Baboons, and i thought their stories were hilarious. We pitched our tents that evening and went to sleep. The next morning i was the first to wake (still getting over jet-lag) and decided to read my bible and journal as i sat outside and looked over the Rift Valley. It was beautiful. In the distance below i glimpsed a group of wildlife running from the water hole across the valley toward our camp (which was situated on a cliff above the valley). They were fast. I didn't care - the valley had many animals and, plus, we were on a cliff 50 feet above. Pretty soon, though, i saw them: the baboons. They were in our camp. Being my first week in Africa, i wasn't sure what to do, so i ran back to my tent, crawled into my sleeping back and just layed there with my heart pounding, hearing them run around outside.
Once, i was making sandwiches for friends out of the tailgate of our van. We were surrounded by monkeys. We trapped one on the car, which was so terrified it actually dropped his loot and leaped out at the first chance we gave it. Though i like the idea of me being inside fo the car and the monkeys on the outside, instead of vice-versa. so i sat in there for a LONG time and watched monkeys clawing and the windows.
As our ministry developed in Kenya, we started taking people to that camp site in Hell's Gate. We would hike and rock climb during the day and spend the evenings at the camp site. I soon discovered that the morning bacon and trash from the last night's dinner tantalized those jerks. Once i got the pancakes over the fire and the bacon on peoples plates, our camp was surrounded on all sides by these HUGE monkeys. They would take turns charging the table and making off with whatever they could catch off of the table/fire. They loved sweets, and once stole an entire bundle of bananas from inside of our car. Eventually i made a rule: while camping at Hell's Gate i am NEVER making breakfast again unless it's oatmeal. We ate a lot of oatmeal that year.
The Maasai people are shepherds and carry Rungus and Sticks as weapons against lions, buffalo (, babboon). We saw that their defense tactic was much more effective than ours (we invested into 4 machette's and just started shaking these huge knives at them when they were close - the only thing this did was provoked them to show us their fangs up close and personal... we soon abandoned those machetes). So Landon invested into broom handles. We handed them to the biggest (and bravest) kids and while breakfast was being cooked, the kids would shout and swing these sticks. That worked better.
Justin and Anna came to visit us for thanksgiving our first year out here in illinois. We went to the Field Museum in downtown Chicago. We were walking through the exhibits and i turned the corner and entered the Monkey room. Of course, the monkeys were dead and stuffed, but they took me by such surprise, and it had been a year and a half since i had seen a monkey, i got goosebumps all over my body and my heart started to race.

I hate monkeys.


Lindsey said...

Those monkeys are not even cute!

Amanda Highfield said...

bastards! i hate those things too! funny you wrote about them because I was just telling someone yesterday about the wayslayer (broom stick with which to chase baboons). I could go on with stories about baboons and how much i hate the time stu got scared and threw his pbj at one, and then when we shut one up in the trash can with the lid on it at hell's gate. ugh. hate them.
i totally identify with this. makes me laugh a little though.

Hannah said...

amanda! ah! i remember locking them in the trash can (didn't they have an underground tunnel system or a cave or something through the bottom? ha! i always thought they did). and as i was typing my post i kept typing bastards over and over and needing to go back and delete - but there really is no better word. thanks for your comment!