There’s something admirable about an animal that simply does not care what others think. It takes a certain confidence to sit in broad daylight, in the middle of the road while playing scratch and sniff with your neighbor’s back end as cars back up to watch-whether they want to or not. Or to dig deep into the pits of pals and as a gesture of gentleness, proceed to eat every creepy crawly burrowed in the hair of your buddy. Ah the magnificently bold baboon… well deserving of a dedicated entry. This one in two parts: Admirable… From a Distance and Please, Take What You Please.

Admirable…From a Distance

I’ve always had an affinity for monkeys and I think they would say the same of me. Needless to say, when I heard baboons walked the hills of Zomba I was ready to go. Zomba is one of the larger peaks in East Africa.Covered with cedar, it’s a beautiful drive. Young men walk their charcoal loaded bikes down the winding road as their piers stand stationary selling carvings, fresh picked raspberries, or meticulously arranged bouquets of dried flowers. Once you reach the top, a row of roadside retailers are ready to trade carving for t-shirt or, well just about anything.

“Me, I like your shoes.” One would say, initiating a proposal. “I like your hat,” another would say. Watch, shirt, shorts-all was fair trade. We did our bartering, made a couple exchanges, then crossed the street for tea. From our table you could see the world, views of the African countryside unparalleled. Yet no monkeys. Until…

We heard something scurry on the roof behind us. Before we had a chance to decipher the clamor, a baboon swooped overhead into a tree partially covering the patio. A few more followed. A game of chase commenced. Roof to tree to roof, the baboons entertained. Then the commotion died. The monkeys disappeared back onto the roof, save one subtle fellow. This one stayed behind admiring his admirers. At first he sat, watched, then branch by branch he moved closer eyeing our table of condiments.

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