This is the true story of a girl who innocently set out one day, enjoying the world around her, and got much more than she bargained for.
That girl was me.
On the way to our lazy man's safari in Aberdare National Park, we decided to drive just a little further out of the way and stop by the Trout Tree Restaurant. It is a very cool restaurant, built as a treehouse and known for serving - you guessed it - trout. They actually raise trout on the premises, so you are guaranteed something fresh and delicious. Layne fell in love with fresh trout at Jackson Hole a few years back, so once he heard of this place we knew we had to go.
You already know the story of our drive to Aberdare and what a horror all that was. We popped out of the car hungry and tired from white knuckling it for three hours, ready to relax and eat some good food.
After we finished eating, and with no desire to hop right back in the car, I told Layne he could hang out and relax for a bit while I explored the grounds.
It was green and tranquil; you could hear the gentle running water from the trout ponds and the African birds singing to one another. Just what we needed to calm our nerves and prepare for the next hour of driving back to Aberdare. As I was meandering, a groundskeeper came up to me and in very broken English asked me to follow him. So I did - duh. Why not walk away into the forest with a complete stranger?
He took me down a path, through some trees, and then we went behind a gate. (Seriously - why did I never question whether or not I should go with him alone?) Then - lo and behold - MONKEYS! (Oh yeah - that's why. I knew it had to be good!)
He began feeding the monkeys potato peels from the pocket of his coveralls.
After a bit of time, he handed me some potato peels. It was MY turn to feed the monkeys.
I looked up into the long face of a young monkey, his brown eyes pouring into my own and then - he reached out his hand.
It was like that incident with the giraffes all over again - I could not stop giggling as he eagerly took the scrap of potato from my hand. It was completely magical. Finally, I came to my senses and ran to grab Layne.
He got in on the fun, too.
And then... suddenly... things took a darker turn.
I was feeding a monkey, generously giving him potatoes and showering him with adoration, when his companion got jealous. Like, crazy ex-girlfriend who went off her meds jealous.
Luckily for you, Layne did not immediately rush to my defense. No, no. He kept taking pictures for your enjoyment. Every time he looks at the photo, he laughs. The way I refused to drop the potato skins. How I amazingly did not fall backward. The fact that these two photos were taken just seconds apart. If I find him looking down at his phone and smirking, I know he is probably looking at this photo.
The groundskeeper came to stand between me and the monkey and I stood by in shock. I could feel three long, fiery scratches on my face, just below my eye. My arm already felt bruised. I kept asking Layne if there was any blood, if it had bit me. He said no, and laughed a little. Before I had even dropped the potato skins he remarked "oh man - I should have been taking video!" I did not think it was funny yet.
I marched straight to the bathroom and washed my face, then we headed to the car where I put hand sanitizer on my scratches. Then it REALLY burned. I was instantly convinced that I was going to contract some monkey disease or rabies (because even though you get rabies from saliva, it had been eating with its hands before scratching me, and I did bleed just a tiny, tiny bit, so maybe some saliva got in my blood stream?). When we got to our hotel, I asked for antiseptic and then began texting my mom about my impending death. She was all "No rabies - you'll be fine - look at this picture of the muffins I'm making." TOTALLY down playing my near fatal experience.
Which... in retrospect... I guess is fine. Since I did live. But it was close.
In all fairness, I should have paid more heed to this sign. But when a random guy comes up and asks you to follow him... you say yes.