Sunday, January 3, 2010

June 13, 2009

Today I thought we might revisit my past.

On June 13, 2009 I was at a monkey sanctuary. There were 5 of us. Me, Lisa, Cara, Erin, and Kasey. We had been in Ghana for a little over 2 weeks....and this was our first trip alone.
For the past couple of weeks, everything had been done for us. Meals were cooked, days were planned, taxi drivers called, and weekend plans made. This weekend, we were going to do it ourselves. We went to the trotro station and bought ourselves some tickets. We drove the 4 hours to the next trotro station where we found ourselves a taxi. Our driver's name was Seth and he was a big man....a very big man. A very nice, big man.
We informed him of where we wanted to go and he said he knew just where that was. Liar. We hopped in, and off we went. Driving through the countryside and small villages along the way, we were in picture-taking heaven. Then we took a turn. No longer were the roads paved, no longer were we in the open space. We were in the jungle. Tiny unpaved roads. Without any air conditioning, we had the windows down. Driving down these tiny roads meant branches whipped our faces and we had to duck to avoid the occasional overgrown plant. When branches snapped into our taxi, small bugs would fall off the branch and into my lap. For the next 30 minutes I continually picked small bugs off my lap and threw them back outside where they belonged.
After driving for roughly 40 minutes, we hit a small village where Seth decided to stop and ask for directions. He got back in the car and flipped a u-turn. We were off again! This time, we would make it. Several bumpy minutes later, we stopped to ask a man on the side of the road where we might find the monkey sanctuary Tofi Atome. He pointed the opposite direction, and we flipped a u-turn. We were set this time. After about 5 minutes, we landed ourselves in the village we had just left. We had successfully gotten nowhere. Seth asked a girl (roughly the age of 12) where the hidden sanctuary was. She pointed, we reversed, flipped half of a u-turn....and found the secret road. 15 minutes later we were finally there. Had we kept driving past the sanctuary for another 3 minutes, we would have ended up on the main road that we had strayed from an hour ago. When we pulled up, Seth got all of our stuff out of his taxi, gave us his card, and told us he would drive us anywhere. Yeah. Right. We'll just do that next time we want to be LOST.
We wandered into the visitor center and waited. Finally someone from somewhere came and helped us. He outwitted us, and we overpaid (typical). Once we had paid the proper fees, we waited again. He had given us each a separate room so the maid had to clean them first. After 20 minutes of waiting, we were shown to our rooms. Each person's room included one bed equipped with a mosquito net and a sheet, one fold-up table, and one plastic chair. After our bell boy? hotel manager? guide? left, we congregated in one room. We were tired. And hot. But we were NOT discouraged. After all, we had gotten ourselves here hadn't we? In one piece, right? And just slightly cheated out of money.
Then we thought about it. We were hungry and because of the stress of getting our own transportation taken care of, we had failed to eat. Dinner was not for another couple of hours so we took matters into our own hands and went out to the market to buy some food. They had dried fish, and stale bread. We opted for the bread and went back to the room. We ate stale bread, complained, drank warm water, complained, and all-in-all had a wonderful little mope-fest. After a good rant, we decided to snap some pictures with "raw" emotion. After snapping several shots and looking at the pictures, we all had a good laugh, got over our bad moods, and flopped onto the bed.
We were just starting a rousing game of African MASH when we heard a THWUMP on our tin roof. It scared me half to death. It honestly sounded like a body had just hit the roof. We figured it was just fruit falling off a tree and continued our game anxious to see if Kasey was going to marry Eddy or Johnny. Then another THUMP followed by several SLAMS! We were scared. Falling fruit should not sound like bodies. We sent Cara to investigate. She opened the door, took a step out, and screamed, "Monkeys!!!" We were off that bed and outside in less than a second with our cameras in hand.
And it was true. Everywhere we looked monkeys were falling from the sky, jumping from branch to branch, swinging from vines, and running on the ground! In excitement, we started running around trying to snap as many pictures as we could. Monkeys are exciting, you see. One of the sanctuary workers brought out a bag of bananas and the feeding frenzy began. Monkeys both big and small were after bananas and it was a fight to get one. But there were not many bananas to behold, so the frenzy was soon over and the monkeys ran away.
After that reviving experience, we went to dinner and happily chatted about what had happened. That night we were most definitely happy, but most definitely not happy about sleeping in separate rooms. We dragged my mattress into the big room and squashed it between the wall and the other bed. It didn't work. About 1/3 of the mattress was climbing up the wall. Cara and I cuddled all night because sharing 2/3 of a twin bed does not work well for two grown adults.
The next morning we woke up bright and early and headed off with some of the staff.
They took us to a little cove where monkeys started appearing. We were each given a couple of bananas and then we were set free. Once again we were snapping pictures and even feeding monkeys. I have never in my life seen so many monkeys! Big monkeys, little monkeys, babies, mommies! And: I fed a monkey. I peeled the peel back, held out my hand, and offered a monkey some breakfast. He in turn grabbed my hand and the banana simultaneously and ran away just as soon as he could get the banana free from the peel.
After feeding time, we left the cove and went to eat some breakfast of our own. On our way there, a woman decided it was time to give us religion. So she followed us to breakfast belting out songs of Jesus and mountains and being thankful. I think she was the local crazy.
Once our stomachs were filled, we returned the mattress to the appropriate room, checked out, and slowly made our way back to the orphanage. Several hours later, back in the safety of our host home, we called Eddy to tell him of our safe return. He gave us a congratulations formaneuvering our way through the country without help and we were satisfied. Feeding monkeys and receiving a congrats from Eddy made for a very, very good day.


TJ said...

wow, what an experience...glad you survived it with a smile.

Tae said...

Monkeys are so cute but so aggressive at the same time! I'm glad you made your way safely to the sanctuary and the place you were staying.