Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm Old!

I'm taking a break from trip posts to tell about an event that happened this afternoon.

After work today, I came home, changed into my jammies, and started making dinner. During dinner prep my doorbell rang. It was about 5:00 and since I was in my PJs, I decided not to answer the door. I never answer the door if I am not expecting someone. Who comes to the door at 5:00 in the evening? Solicitors, that's who. Important people in my life don't just show up at my door unannounced.

The doorbell rang. Then there were knocks on the door. Koho, my dog, of course went nuts; barking and running around the house. I still ignored it.

After a few moments, I heard noises in my backyard (which is really the side yard - I'm on a corner lot). I looked out the window and saw a boy, of about 12, running in my backyard and then back out again. After getting over the shock of seeing someone back there, I got upset. I marched to the front door, opened it, and yelled, "What are you doing?"

Three boys who stood at my side gate looked at me and froze. After a moment, one of the boys walked away shrugging, while I yelled, "Come here," to the other two. They walked over to my half open door (still in my jammies) and stood looking at me. Koho continued to run around the house barking so I couldn't open the door all the way. This is how the rest of the conversation went...

Me: What are you doing? (shrieking)
Boy 1,2: Uh, uh
Me: What are you doing in my backyard? (still shrieking)
Boy 1: Uh, we had to get this (holding up something that was shot out of a big toy gun)
Me: So you just decided to go in my backyard? (no longer shrieking, but talking in my stern teacher voice)
Boy 2: We knocked on your door.
Me: I don't care. You went in my backyard! (shrieking again)
Boy 1, 2: (stare)
Me: Where do you live? (shrieking continues)
Boy 1, 2: (points behind my house)
Me: How would you feel if you found me in your backyard and I wasn't supposed to be there? (Back to the teacher voice)
Boy 1: Pretty mad.
Me: Yah, pretty mad is right!
Boy 1, 2: (stare)
Me: I don't want to ever see you in my backyard again. That is not ok!
Boy 1, 2: OK
Me: Never again! (almost shrieking)
Boy 1, 2: OK
Me: Sheesh (closes the door)

So, let me ask you, did I behave like the old, scary cat lady that lives in the neighborhood? Did I react like the cranky, old neighbor who says, "Stay outta my yard ya young whipper snappers." I think so. In my defense however isn't that breaking and entering? I'm just saying. Anyways, now if my house gets T-Pd, or egged, or I get murdered in my sleep we will know why.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Monkeys Part 2

I have not been in the mood to write this week. I took so many pictures on my trip that I have spent all of my time trying to get through them. In order to keep my blog recent and my fans (all two of you) happy, I have included another picture of the masturbating monkey. I found this one after posting Monkeys Here, Monkeys There. It has a bit more action in it than the previous one. Enjoy!

He looks so comfortable around us doesn't he...

This is my favorite...

That face is adorable.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monkeys Here, Monkeys There

After taking a moment to do a little complaining I am now ready to begin the trip stories and I will start with the monkeys.

With the exception of Amsterdam, Monkeys (I am using the term loosely to include all primates) were a a constant on my recent trip. I don't know a lot about Monkeys, but I have come to the conclusion that they can be fairly compared to teenage boys - they're cute, but just a bit naughty too. Here are a few of my most fun monkey stories...

On my first full day in Cape Town we traveled around the Cape Peninsula which is just gorgeous with many little beachy towns along the way. We made it to the Cape of Good Hope which is the south-westernmost point in Africa.

It was just beautiful! However I was very surprised to see both ostriches and baboons in this rocky beach area. Since this post is about monkeys and not ostriches, I will just say that it was quite strange to see these very large birds walking along the beach...who knew?

The entire trip around the peninsula we warned not to feed the baboons and that they were dangerous. We were told that if we saw baboons we shouldn't stop the car for too long and if/when we were stopped under no uncertain circumstances were we to open the windows. And well, this would be why...

The baboons climb all over anything that stops, reach inside, and steal bags, sodas, food, cameras, etc. Once they have something, the run away with it and you are hard pressed to get it back. Something interesting about these particular baboons - they are apparently the only baboons who eat fish and shell fish.

In Kruger National Park game reserve, which is in the northern part of South Africa, we stayed in a bush camp. The camps are basically just areas of the reserve that have been fenced in. The larger animals don't seem to get in, but there were still all sorts of animals inside the camp - impala, baboons, vervet monkeys, bats (there was even one in my sink).

We got up very early in the morning to take a morning game drive and had a second game drive in the late afternoon. The rest of our day was spent around camp and we were lucky enough to have the monkeys (and sometimes baboons) visit us each afternoon. I could spend all day with my camera just watching the vervet monkeys. They are so cute and awfully busy. However they are also nosey and don't seem to have a fear in the world. They often rummaged through bags and the trash cans nearby.

There was one particular male monkey who liked to visit. He sat on the patio deck of the bungalow and let us get pretty close to him. However, he gave us quite a show. Let's just say he was not the master of his domain...

At this point I called out, "He has blue balls!" Who knew? Anyways, as I said he liked to visit and was very uninhibited...

But seriously, as naughty as they were, we couldn't get enough of them. Isn't he the cutest thing you've ever seen?

The guides and employees of the camp pretty much left these guys alone, but the baboons in the park are another story. During one of the afternoons, I sat on the patio watching the animals, writing in my journal when all of a sudden four baboons ran across the grassy area that I was looking out over. Following closely behind was a park employee running after them, chasing them away. After a few minutes, the baboons come racing back the other direction. They passed my bungalow and then slowed down and decided to stop and check the outside refrigerators of the remaining bungalows. They pulled out water and other items and then dropped them and continued running as the park employee came running at them from the other direction. As a spectator, it was very fun to watch, but I am sure they do plenty of damage and wreak havoc on the park if they are not chased away every so often.

The monkeys were also prevalent in Zambia. We were warned to keep all doors and windows closed because they were very brave and would come inside. We weren't there an hour when my mom came back into her room and there was a monkey on the table stealing the sugar packets, and some friends had one in their room sitting on the TV when they walked in after leaving the door open for some air.

Crazy monkeys!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Airplane Travel

Due to jetlag and a bad cold I have been in a foul mood all weekend. There are many things I want to share about my big Africa via Amsterdam trip, but I right now I don't feel like it. I would rather complain about flying in an airplane.

I spent more than 50 hours on one airplane or another over the course of my travels. It works out to be about 15% of the trip. That would be fine if the airplane was a pleasant place to be, but for all of us in economy , it is not. I really dislike flying. Part of it is fear - not fear of flying, rather fear of crashing, but there are so many things that make flying about as pleasurable as sticking pins in my eyes.

Most of my flying time (about 40 hours) was spent from LA to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Cape Town (and back again) on a major airline. I will not mention it's name, but I will say that it has the same initials as I do...KLM. My ticket for these flights cost me over $2,000. Did I mention that this was economy class? That is more than my monthly mortgage payment people! For that amount of money I should be getting 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. But instead, I get a blue polyester seat that is about 2 centimeters away from another economy class smuck.

Can they put the seats any closer together? I have very short legs but still walked out of each flight with bruises on my knees after the shithead in front of me decided to invade my personal space and slam his seat back, crashing my tray table into my legs. With my claustrophobic issues all that closeness makes me feel like I can't breathe.

And how about the in-flight entertainment? One of my seven flights had the personal video screen that allowed me to choose what movies or shows I wanted to watch. That sure makes a difference in the passing of time when you you get to choose your entertainment. However, the other flights had the screens mounted to the ceiling. Even with my glasses on it was too far away and during the 11 hours, they showed only 2 movies. Two of the flights showed the same movies. Again, I must remind you that I had all of this for over $2,000. In this day and age where you can watch movies or listen to music on your cell phone, why wouldn't they be able to master an entertaining entertainment system.

Can we just talk about airplane food and drink? Why is it that the flight attendants run out of the 2nd meal choice just as they get to row that I am sitting in? This happened over and over during the course of 51+ hours. Airplane food is bad enough even when you get to choose your meal. When your choice is fish or eggs I choose the cold roll sitting on the tray. The best meal I had on the plane was the bag of Texan Paprika Dorrito Dots that were passed around on the Amsterdam to LAX flight. I say, for $2,000 they must be delicious. However, the deliciousness of those Dorritos was canceled out when on that same flight the stewardess flung a tray of apple and orange juice down my back side and chair. I even had juice in my underwear after that one.

All of that - the space, the movies, the food, the drinks - is a pain, but the worst part for me is sitting still for that long. I am a terrible sitter if I have nothing to do. I have very antsy legs and can't sit still for very long. Over a long period of sitting time, I have to cross one leg, uncross that leg, cross the other leg, uncross the other leg, sit on one foot, sit on the other foot, and sit criss cross apple sauce over and over. This is just not happening on the airplane. If the shithead in front of me keeps his seat upright, I am lucky to cross one of my legs, but my only choice is to cross and then uncross the same leg. Sometimes I cross that leg and then the shithead slams the seat back and my leg gets stuck and I can't uncross it easily. That really pisses me off. I have also tried sitting on a foot, but unsitting on the foot is hard. Therefore I can't be antsy and I turn into a nervous wreck.

There are many people who get up and walk around to get the ants out of their pants, but that is a pain in the butt too. Sometimes you get trapped by the food/drink cart, sometimes you have to pass someone standing in the aisle, and sometimes you trip over blankets or pillows that have fallen to the floor and were never picked up because the person who dropped them kept hitting their head on the seat in front of them and just gave up and left them there.

I guess I shouldn't complain too much. In this time of airline turbulence (get it?) I should deem myself lucky that I am not stranded in South Africa or The Netherlands...wait a minute maybe I would rather be there since I start back to work tomorrow - probably another reason for my pissy mood.

I love to travel to new places, but it is just too bad that the places I want to go require that I fly on an airplane.