I was in the middle of taking a nice cold water shower in Mole National Park, bracing as it was, I even felt as though I was really getting into the being as one with nature thing, when the place erupted. I could hear the kind of excitement in the voices of people as they screamed and ran this way and that. I thought, "Hmm, these people, one small elephant in the distance, and look at how they are shouting and carrying on!"
Nothing special, I concluded, and just continued with my daily constitutional.
A quarter of an hour later, I was done, dressed, and out of the door, skipping almost gaily to join the next safari leaving for the park. Oh, I had missed my normal breakfast of - ok, not akara, like a good African woman- bread and was eating my way through a small packet of shortcake biscuits. I was so enraptured with the day, the park, the weather, my shortbread, I was so into celebrating Africa – this was the Africa I came looking for – that I didn't notice the baboon that stalked up to me, eyeing my biscuits with a very proprietary air.
I was so startled, of course, that the normal thoughts didn't make any sense to me. Did baboons like shortbread, was I supposed to make cooing sounds and offer a handful of grubs, should I just reach out, pat it on its head and go, "Good boy, good boy?"
The baboon took note of my indecisiveness and just reached out and in short order took the packet of shortcake out of my hands! No argument, no negotiation, no rethinking, no navel gazing. And then he realized that I probably had more shortcake hiding somewhere, so he took the one I had in my hand as well, the one I was about to pop into my mouth. At this time, I was really impressed with its dexterity, the speed of its reflexes; the crazy animal could have been a champion middleweight boxer, if it could have been persuaded to spend time in a gym.
And then as quickly as it had begun, my introduction to wildlife in its native habitat was over, she was off into the scrub, loot in paws. it was then that I noticed that my knees had been shaking, my teeth chattering. When my eyes could focus again, I saw the sign that said 'Visitors are not allowed to feed the animals on this park!' And, you know what? I agreed, except that no one had told this baboon about this rule. And in any case, feeding an animal should have been conscious choice, what had happened decidedly wasn't what I would have chosen to do.
But to be fair to the baboon, I was none the worse for the experience. Hey, this is why I left the human baboons I was used to at home. I wanted to see how their "wilder" cousins measured up. I think it's a toss-up, but I did get a blogpost out of the encounter, so I wasn't doing too badly.
Anyhow, the rest of the day went according to script, we saw the dozens of fauna and flora whose pictures inspired all my fellow tourists to leave comfy homes all over the world to trek here, but to be honest with you, my heart belonged to that baboon!
So that was that, I managed to snatch a few hours of sleep till three a.m., when there was a crazy you-sleep-you-lose rush to get a seat on the bus for Larabanga. This was a race I had fought before in Lagos, so I pressed my advantage, and just like that I was on the bus. "Sorry, lady", I said in my head to the one I had to elbow aside elegantly, "won't do it again, ok?"
I got to the Salia Brothers', and realized that in spite of my friend H's desire to sleep on the roof to count the stars as one ought to in the "real Africa," the heavy rainfall from the previous night had put paid to those plans. Hah, I exulted quietly, even the gods have sense.
I have a detour to make to see a traditional healer who specializes in mental health. Hmm, maybe I should have offered the healers number to the baboon and quite a few of the tourists I encountered. I think I will really enjoy this bit of Africana, only a week or so out of Lagos, and I already need a mental tune-up, way too much fun stuff has happened already.
Tomorrow, I press on to Burkina Faso…I can't wait.
P:s I confess, I have had lots of help in writing this post, i'm not half this witty all by myself. Most of it is from my friend K, my pseudo editor. Thanks K.