Tag Archives: monkeys

Of Moths, Mangoes and Monkeys

The past two days and today have been quite the fun experience regarding wildlife living on my compound. I am not sure if I have mentioned it before, but the sheer number of amazing butterflies flitting around NYS is astounding. On Sunday I saw a species of butterfly I had not noticed before and it was of an exact color pattern I would like: black and orange. These were not monarchs however, as the wings were entirely black with and orange, “eye,” on each, and they were much smaller. The wings swept back, and were more triangular than quadrilinear. I saw two of them, both eating mangoes that had been discarded by monkeys (or students, who are fond of throwing large and sharp metal objects into mango trees hoping to hit a mango and knock it down). I cannot identify the species though, and the Internet is not being of help.

Then just yesterday I saw perhaps one of the most hilarious monkey antics yet. An adolescent had found a good mango on the ground, but upon my approach all the other monkeys executed their usual, “mzungu maneuver,” which is to run towards the nearest clime-able object and prepare to shoot up it should I become too curious. This one adolescent however, completely reluctant to relinquish his mango prize, decided to carry it with him. The mango was rather large though and he was unable to hold it with just one arm and then three-legged run. Instead, he held it with his two forearms and decided to hop his way over to one of the abandoned buildings monkeys use to hide in, on his hinds. I see this one and a half foot tall gray monkey hopping through the grass grasping a mango as if it were a life and death situation. The determination on his face was easily distinguishable. Imagine a sack-race hop. It was like that.

Finally, just this morning on my four minute walk to work, I hear a buzzing in the grass and actually see moving detritus. Of course I go over to explore the mysterious noise in the brush and what do I find, but a rather old and tattered, large, khaki moth struggling. Its wings were disintegrating, and as such it could not produce the necessary thrust to lift off. Obviously, this was food just jumping around waiting to be eaten and sure enough as I get up and walk away from my inspection a bird swoops down, picks up his breakfast and flies away. I hope he didn’t mind the mzungu interruption.

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Waking Up, A Kenyan Morning

I wake up between 5:45 and 6:30am every morning to give me time to prep myself and then head down to the lab.  There’s not really much to do in my house as far as chores are concerned, and when I am at the lab, at least I am enabling people to use the computers more, which before I came, was not happening.  However there are some things that make waking up in Kenya… special:

  • Monkeys making other monkeys on my roof
  • Not knowing if I have electricity or not until I try to make coffee (yes, a coffee machine was one of my splurges after I saw my living arrangement)
  • The Vervet Monkeys and Baboons fighting turf wars in the morning over the cashew tree in my backyard.  A single baboon is more than capable of scaring away an entire troop of monkeys, until the big white monkey, me, starts grunting at the baboon and scares him away.  I like the vervets; the baboons are, unsettling
  • Washing the dishes from the night before, because I have yet to meet a Kenyan who washes the dishes at night, and its a habit I have adopted so that I have something to wake up my motor-control in the morning
  • Actually being woken up at 5am by the Muslim call to prayer.  It echoes its way from Mtongwe all the way through base and up to me on my hill
  • Actually being woken up at 1am/2am/3am/4am/5am/its-the-christians-time-to-start-shouting-really-loud-and-use-a-stadium-worthy-speaker-system-to-annoy-the-living-beejeebus-out-of-everyone-AM

That’s my list as it stands at the moment.  I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into my “daily life.”

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Monkeys

For the wikipedia/google/encyclopedia-inclined, I have a troop of Vervet Monkeys living around my house and several troops living on the compound of NYS.

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Some quick thoughts before heading off to bed

1) There was a leopard in my front yard today. Apparently this is unusual. I did not see it because, well, leopards are good at hiding, but I was assured it was there. Mama’s don’t lie (often) in Kenya, and the Mama’s next door seemed awfully concerned about the leopard.

2) Have I mentioned that I have monkeys running around the NYS compound? There are as prolific as grey squirrels are back home. They are also grey. One of them left me a present my first morning in Mutungwe: a rotting banana on my front step.

3) Mr. Dai Kato, my Japanese neighbor is a really cool guy. He led me around Mombasa today, and then made me dinner and we talked about life in Kenya. It’s reassuring to know that volunteer perceptions of kenya can stay the same no matter what nationality you are, what program you are with or what language you speak.

4) After today Mombasa has gotten my thumbs up approval as my home town for the next two years. It has character, amenities, culture and language enough to keep me busy.

5) Getting lost in Mombasa’s Old Town is an interesting experience. As much as it’s a “Tourist Desitnation,” there are no tourists, and being the muzungu with the backpack and sunglasses certainly makes you stick out amongst a bunch of traditionally-garbed Muslim men and women

6) Going to the barbershop and getting your haircut by a local is the first sign that you have moved into a new town and mean to stay (at least that was it for me).

7) Kiswahili words that have integrated themselves into my everyday speech, replacing their english equivalents: sawa (ok), pole (sorry), assante sana (thank you very much), habari yako (how are you; lit: your news), kwa nini (why), lakini (but) na na (and).

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