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Published: November 22nd 2007
There are still stories that are left over from Kenya...but that is for another day. I am now at the Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa. Getting here was somewhat interesting. Leaving Kenya went without a hitch until I was waiting uncertaintly in the airport when my flight was supposed to have left, unsure of what was going on. Eventually the plane came, and people boarded, so I guess that makes sense. I was never really clued in. All the airport stuff was just regular, except it felt completely alien to be in an airplane with air conditioning. That was the beginning of many fragmented moments of culture shock. Riana, a work contact of my moms, met me at the airport and took me to her house. She was great and I got my own room and a glorious tub for a bath. She has two little kids that were absolutely adorable, and the fact that the little one pretty much only spoke to me in Afrikans only made her more adorable. Granted, I never really knew what she was going on about. I also got serenaded quite loudly in the car in a mixture of english and afrikans songs.
The following morning we drove about 3 hours to Tzaneen. The landscape in Pretoria is very beautiful and mountainous and after awhile everything grew flat and samey. About half an hour outside of Tzaneen everything got greener and we entered the mountains. It was really cool to see neat rows of pines from a local tree nursery.
Once I met up with two girls from VMF they informed me that we would have to wait for the 3:40 bus that is sometimes late. It could even be as late as 7, they laughed. I believed it could be late, this is Africa, and I have been on plenty of vehicles that break down. So we sat in a parking lot, trying to stay in the shade. It got later. And later. They debated about going to get some fast food. After 2.5 hours they decided it was acceptable. Then we took a mini trip to the gas station. A good 4 some hours later the bus rolled in at 8 pm. We had just started to amuse ourselves by rolling the car around the parking lot. This is the record for the latest the bus has ever been. I'm really glad that I got to experience the lateness of the Translux Coach to the fullest. At least now I know to leave the day before my flight....
The foundation feels like camp and college mixed together. There is a main house where loud music of all varieties is always blaring. There is a huge kitchen with a long table and food is self-service and people eat whenever and where ever and not really together. At night people hang around eating, using one of two computers, consumming goodies from our bar, reading, and perhaps socializing. Mainly people are a little quieter and less friendly. So far if I want to know peoples names I have to ask, even though I'm new here. It's weird. Unlike my last trip where everone arrived at the same time, people have been here for varying lengths of time already, and they are are always new volunteers coming and going each week.
At the bottom of a moderately long dirt road, you find our tent village. That is where most people live. There are 2 composting toilets, and 4 showers. It is pretty luxurious compared to Kenya. There is a mini-kitchen area in tent village where we eat breakfast (cereal). When I get up depends on my duties for the days....jobs usually start at 6, 7, or 8. There are other logistics that I could explain but they're boring.
Exciting news for the day--I got bit by a monkey! Ok not actually exciting....I was in sick bay and we were giving water to the monkeys. This means you have to walk around to each cage and offer the monkeys water from a bottle. Some of them ignore you. I was tricked; Minky came running at me and I thought she just really wanted some water. I thought she was grabbing the water bottle so it took me too long to realize that she had grabbed my hand and dragged it into her waiting mouth. I pulled my hand out and was blessed with a nice bite on the nail bed of my thumb. I'm fine, the worst of it was just dealing with the initial shock of being bitten, and then afterwards I was a little jumpy in the cages, which of course the cheeky monkeys pick up on and then take advantage. I'm considering self-medicating with some chocolate.
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