Monday, December 10, 2007

sssssunday: ssssssnakes and bonobos! (warning, really really cute monkeys)

so i got a great night's sleep on saturday night, only to be awoken by alain at 7am, wanting to charge his phone. i had already told him the day before that i left my laptop at the office. he was sad. i was still very sleepy, and now pissed that i was awake so early. for some reason i thought an appropriate revenge was to tell alain to go knock on room 57, christian can help you. i fell back asleep for a few hours and then went to breakfast. christian was on the patio, chainsmoking, on his 5th cup of coffee. he was PISSED. "some asshole knocked on my door at 7am this morning!" i couldn't hold my laughter but he didn't find it funny, AT ALL. i hoped the bonobos would cheer him up.patrick and jackie from the office, christian and i set out in a land cruiser from the office for our sunday expedition. we picked double-guy up in a shady neighborhood. we passed a market that had a few butcher stands: 4 pig's heads on a wooden table, with a guy shooing flies away with a newspaper. we decide to see the snake place, since we're nearby. someone had the street number, but none of the houses were labeled and people on the street didn't even know there was such a thing as a house number. so we all counted together from the previous intersection, hoping there weren't any gaps. finally we get to an unmarked door, this can't be it...but a guy opens up and says "want to see some snakes??" it's frank, our friendly snake-guy.
we park in the driveway of a private home of someone who is obviosly a snake fanatic and runs a snake zoo in his front yard. we ask pat
rick to keep the doors to the truck open in case we need to run away from snakes. i'm making snakes on a plane jokes and we see our first cobra in the bottom of a pit. wow snakepits actually exist! frank lowers a hook on a long handle and these things go nuts. attacking the hook, spitting, biting, hissing. he tells us how to recognize them in wild, what to do if they bite, and shows up some cool scars. we're more interested in frank than the snakes.
he talks about feeding them and we're all wide-eyed so he says well, the snakes aren't supposed to eat until monday, but for you...and so he brings a small lab rat and throws it in. the poor rat is terrified. christi
an walks away, can't handle it. the rat gets bit a few times, make a squeaky noise and one of the other cobras nabs it, takes it to the water and drowns it. he then holds it up, the rat twitches a few times and then he puts the entire thing down his throat. SO COOL.
then we see 8 more species of cobra and we start to get bored of c
obras so we check out the pythons. frank grabs 2 pythons with his hand and jackie runs away. he puts the head of the python in his mouth. this is more like a circus. then he puts the python around my neck. i freak out at first but then, it feels so neat and i don't want to let him go. this is greatest necklace i have ever had. i am loving this python. we see about 50 more snakes, including one that curls up in a ball and you can throw it around ad play with it like a hacky sack. there are some crocodiles and frank angers them with a broom and they attack the broom. they are broomivores! then there are vipers, including the famous gabon viper that looks like a pile of leaves. then we see the lab which has a whole bunch of frozen and preserved snakes, and we check out the cages of all the rats and guinea pigs and chickens who will be eaten some day. this place is rad. best $10 i have ever spent. then, it's off to see bonobos, finally! we go through some amazing neighborhoods with people everywhere. there are hills and mountains and in the distance you can see kinshasa. they tell me THIS is still kinshasa. kinshasa is HUGE. we go through a little village with a really muddy road and little kids with shovels everywhere, digging in the mud. i'm all, aw, they're fixing up the road, how nice. no, patrick says. they actually make it worse, hope you get stuck and then make you pay to have them push you out. we switch into 4x4 and rev up and swerve and slime through it. there's mud everywhere. the kids ask for money saying anyway, to help them "maintain the roads." we see lots of mango trees and decide to buy some on the way home.
we get to the bonobo place and i'm saying i BETTER see some bonobos. we walk in the hot sun for a good long w
hile and don't see any. i'm starting to lose hope when we hear these insane screams. there they are! patrick knows them all by name, he shouts, mankoto! takoto! and they all come out of the woods. this is a sanctuary where they find live bonobos in markets and rehabilitate them and try to bring them back in the wild. most can't go though, because they're way too used to humans as we quickly see. so they all come to the fence and look super cute and so i go close to take a picture and that's when they lunge for me and try to steal my camera or grab my hair. then they go nuts. patrick is trying to hi-five them...at first they're all cute and go for it, but then they try to smack his face. i dropped my hair clip and almost lost it when one swiped for it. then this old female shows up and starts picking up dirt and throwing it at me. it's really annoying, we're yelling at them, hey! that's not cool! cut it out! but it only makes them do it more. the dirt sticks to my skin, is inside my shirt and it's very itchy. it sort of smells like poo.
we go a little further and see some more. these guys are way cooler - there are young ones fighting over a mango and being adorable. there are others lying on their backs touching their weewees the way little boys do. one of the males starts posing for me and making kissy faces.
so cute! patrick comes over to see and kissyface goes nuts, screaming, aggressive - he's totally jealous! the two that were fighting over the mango start humping and i try to get a video. the one who was into me was sad at first, but is now licking another one's butt. bonobos are awesome.now we're hungry and so we go to a little restaurant on the river bank. we dip our feet in the rapids, order grilled goat. this is a wonderful sunday. on the way home we stop at a market to get jackie some mangoes. this market is a bustling affair of crazy vegetables and fruit stands. i get out to stretch my legs and double-guy points to a lady with some furry things on her table. BATS!only $1. i thought about buying one for christian to make amends...weinstead buy some crazy spiny green fruit i have never seen and drive on. fally is on the radio, we have the windows open. all the ladies are checking out patrick as he is driving this sweet truck with this sweet music and he's wearing his sweet usher-style glasses. ladies on the street are luvin it, blowing kisses, and we all make fun of patrick. there are endless bonobo conflict-solving and one-eyed snake jokes. my hands are sticky from this tasty weird fruit, and little kids are waving at me. as i said, greatest sunday ever.

ok, here's one more incredibly adorable bonobo picture:

3 comments:

AfriBats said...

Would you add your bat photo as a citizen-science observation to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist?:
http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/afribats

AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.

Please locate your picture on the map as precisely as possible to maximise the scientific value of your records.

Many thanks!

PS: these are straw-coloured fruit bats (Eidolon helvum)

lefty said...

dunzo!

AfriBats said...

Thanks for sharing this with iNat! On iNaturalist, could you please add it to the "AfriBats" project (think of the latter as a collection of observations within iNat).

If you sign in to iNat and go to your observation, you should see a pending invitation. Just click on "Accept" and it's done.
www.inaturalist.org/observations/1043814

Cheers, Jakob