Monkey Knows Best
After breakfast, Solomon shows up to guide us on a rain forest hike.
The trail shoots straight down the mountain, with rocks and mud slick from last night’s storm. We move slow, and step carefully, trying not to think about how to deal with a broken bone out here in the bush. The relentless African sun turns the moisture of the jungle into steam. Our previous whining about sweating means nothing now, as we are sodden to the bone. In some spots we walk through wet weeds that tower above us, and realize the wisdom of hiring a guide. Small snakes cross the path in front of us. We see them only because we are constantly looking down, trying not to slip. Other than that, we see nothing else. My boxing training comes in handy, not only for balance, but for holding up my hands to guard against Mother Nature’s plants trying to slap my face. (A big tree should slap me for such a poor metaphor)
Near a flat spot, Solomon shows us one, lone rock jetting from the ground.
“A lady lifted that rock with one finger,” he says. Then he explains a legend from his ancestors about a tribe of giants who lived below the mountain. His ancestors had no way to defeat them, because of their size. So one of them made pure alcohol from the juice of a palm tree, and volunteered to bring it to the giants. The alcohol destroyed the giants. Then Solomon showed us a fallen palm tree, dripping its juice into a plastic bottle. (Good thing alcohol doesn’t kill us little people)
Finally, we reach a flat, dirt road, and jump into a taxi for a ride to the monkey preserve. We learn that with the onset of Christianity and conversion, the traditional, tribal values die. The people no longer believe that the monkeys are sacred. So, they destroy the Mona-monkeys to the brink of extinction. In 1993, John Mason, from Canada, becomes director of ecotourism. He convinces the villagers of the economic benefits of protecting the monkeys in a preserve.
Currently, about 300 monkeys roam this preserve, consisting of five families. We stroll through the forest, and eventually monkeys come to eat bananas from our hands. The monkeys are cautious at first, but warm up a little after a while. Just like us.
Back in the taxi, the driver maneuvers up the impossible looking road about twelve miles to Amedzote. The car breaks down four times. Each time, he lifts the hood, grabs the fuel line, siphons it, spits, and re-attaches it. He needs a new fuel filter, but manages without one.
We arrive at the guest house bushed, and take a “bucket shower.” Then we hang out on the front porch, while Georgiana cuts several women’s hair. (At the very table where we eat dinner)
Two women from Holland check-in to the place. We converse. Vera tells us that she converted to Muslim and does not like Americans. She spends lots of time in Syria, mainly because she likes the men. She is Muslim “light” as she drinks alcohol and has lots of boyfriends. But, when she tells us about being in Morocco, during the “911” attacks on the US, and cheering with the crowd each time seeing the footage, Mare and I have to practice much restraint. Her rudeness bothers us. What am I going to do, beat her up? There is already enough violence.
I’m sure that Vera does not speak for neither all of Holland nor all of Muslims, but I have heard this hate from two folks now. It surprises me that in traveling to Ghana, the Ghanaians welcome Americans with open arms and some of the Dutch hate us. At least the monkeys seem to like us plenty. They like everybody who treats them nicely. Maybe Vera could learn a lesson from the monkeys, as we all could.