Monday, July 6, 2015

The Great Baboon Seige of Aught-One-Five

Just because you can measure the distance on a road map does not mean that you can calculate how long it will take to travel from point A to point B in countries whose infrastructure is in a severe state of decline..  There is just no way, before the journey begins, you can possibly fathom how many slow moving trucks, tuk-tuks, donkey drawn carts, cows, detours onto things that are not roads, small children and stray camels will slow your progress.  I know this, but I forgot

Our drive from Addis to Awash Falls National Park departed at 0800 hours.  Shatu and his bad-ass Land Cruiser, complete with snorkel, picked us up from the guest house and I think we were all excited to leave the city behind for awhile and head out on the next part of our adventure- a five day tour to three cities in the south of Ethiopia.  We were a little less excited 300 kilometers and eight hours later, but our spirits were buoyed as we were shown to our amazing accommodations- a stick and mud hut overlooking a gorge full of crocodiles, a river full of Bilharzia and a jungle full of baboons.

Jeremy took Zeni onto the balcony while Hayden and I dug the food out of the luggage; the plan was a porch picnic, a rest, and a drive to see the gorge and the wildlife within.  Just as we found the food Jeremy rushed back into the hut.  He had Zeni under one arm and as he slammed the door he half cackled, half shrieked: "Baboon!"

I tried to figure to why he was banging the door over and over even though the door was shut.  It took my brain  a few beats to process that the baboon that was on the porch was pushing the door open, and Jeremy was trying to keep it closed.  We laughed, latched the door, and spread the picnic on the floor inside.  When we hadn't heard it for awhile I went to the screened window to confirm that the baboon had moved on and that little fucker was hiding, out of sight, under the window and as quiet as can be.  As soon as he saw me appear he sprang up, grabbing the screen with both hands and feet and baring his teeth.  

I'm not going to lie; I peed my pants a little.  Then I looked past him to see that his posse had gathered on the porch, too.  We seemed to be in some kind of baboon stand off.  

Still amused, (except for the pee) we started to unpack when there was a huge "BOOM" in the entryway.  We rushed in and found one of the inside corner logs that held up the roof on the ground, and as we looked up to whence it had come we saw a hairy arm and shoulder pressing its way in through the hole left by the absence of the beam. Zeni started crying, Hayden wrapped his scarf around his head and started making karate chopping noises, I laughed maniacally and Jeremy (thank god!) had the wherewithal to shove the beam back in to place and repel the insurgent.

The insurgent was indignant and shoved the board back.  Jeremy replaced it and I brought him a chair so he had better leverage to hold it in place, but that baboon was not giving up.  A few minutes of push-shove and things became less amusing as the baboon would not give up and with every shove he ripped a larger hole in the structure.  The rest of the troop had gathered around the first baboon, hooting and hollering their approval of the antics.

After a few minutes of nervous conversation in which we tried to appear undistressed for the sake of the kids it was decided that Jeremy word make a run for the main lodge and I would stave off the attack as best I could until he returned with reinforcements.  I took his place on the chair and both children cried as if they would never see him again as Jeremy bolted our.

As soon as they heard the door open the baboons all headed for it.  It sounded like hundreds of them on the tin roof, all galumphing their way from one side of the hut to the other.  Luckily Jeremy is good in a crisis and he shouted (in his best Shaggy-from-ScoobyDoo-voice) "Huggily Buggily!  Huggily Buggily!"  At them which is apparently secret baboon code for leave me alone you fuckers, because as I heard his feet padding away down the dirt path here came the galumphing again, and it was my turn to hold the beam in place.  

Baboons are strong.

I was pretty sure he was coming through the ceiling and I told the kids, in as calm a manner as I could muster between shoves, to go into the bathroom and sit with their backs against the door.  You know those stories of mothers who soothed their children to sleep with soft lullabies as the bombs fell during the Londono Blitz?  Yeah, apparently that wouldn't have been me.  Hayden was sobbing at this point, and Zeni had escalated to hysterical shrieking.  I was sweating and totally psychotically giggling and praying to FarmGirlFit for the strength to hold that log in place.

And then Jeremy returned with two men who worked at the lodge who threw some rocks, scared the troop away and then admonished us not to feed the baboons.  Right. We weren't, but super useful tip.  Thanks.  

A new hut was aquired (one without ready baboon access points), and we all laughed and relived our favorite moments from the last hour, congratulating each other as if we had survived the Tet Offensive.  We are all safe and sound and ready for our next adventure, and Zeni may never sleep again without nightmares of small hairy hands reaching through the ceiling to grab her.  


Alexandra said...

OMG. What a thriller of a story.

Carla said...

Baboons can be real assholes sometimes.

Kerry said...

Hey E-

Just read all your posts--thank you for letting me travel a little bit with you vicariously! What fabulous life-long memories for the four of you. This last post--holy crap!!! Kudos to all of you. Can't wait to hear all the stories in person.....


Heidi said...

What a fantastic story! Wow. I'm afraid to ask - did you think to take any photos? :)

(from Heidi Halstead, I used to be the Business Manager at Music, I worked for your mom.)