Monday, January 5, 2009

Monkey Business

When I was in Sri Lanka, I had such a good time with the monkeys. It was so funny to watch them, look at them, etc. After seeing monkeys for years at the zoo, I had no idea just how naughty they could be. It was so fun to see monkeys just running all over the place. They were sitting in trees, on roofs, you name it, they seemed to be everywhere.

My first encounter with them was my second day there. My tour group went to a blessing at a temple. The custom is to buy a fruit platter, have it blessed, and then share the fruit with one another. Sri Lanka has the most beautiful fruit stands. They are truly works of art. Anyway, as is customary, I bought one and started to walk on the path with the others toward the temple. I spotted some monkeys and started watching them. They were really eyeing my fruit platter. Being an uninformed tourist, I decided to give one of those darling monkeys a piece of my fruit. The next thing I knew, monkeys were coming out of the woodwork grabbing my fruit, leaving me standing with an empty platter and a growling male monkey. I handed him the empty platter, and in a very exaggerated motion, he looked at the obviously empty platter and then hit himself on the head with it and tossed it to the side. I had to laugh. I had just been ambushed by monkeys. As I caught up with the group, I shared with them that I guessed I wouldn't be receiving any blessings that day. When they asked why, I pointed back at the monkeys all sitting on the sidewalk eating my fruit. It was hysterical.

Another day we were at a waterfall eating at an outdoor restaurant. A little monkey came up and sat down near me. I thought he was so cute and I gave him some of my food. When I saw him, I had to laugh. The monkeys in that area are Mackok monkeys and have the funniest hair. It was straw-colored and stuck out about one inch radius from the center of the top of his head. He looked like he had cut his own hair. It looked like a bowl cut. I commented to the group that this monkey looked like a little Amish man. My whole group had to laugh, as that is exactly what he looked like. In looking back on it, I am lucky the monkey didn't take my purse and run out into the jungle with it.

My last monkey story involves a monkey getting into my hotel room in Candy, Sri Lanka. Apparently the monkeys methodically go around checking doors to find a way into the hotel. We were on the 3rd or 4th floor and had a veranda. We left the door open for fresh air. I was in the Ayurveda spa getting a massage after a 5-mile (total of 10 miles) hike up Sri Pada Mt. while my roommate, Bibbi, a Swedish woman who roomed with me on the trip was showering. She came out of the bathroom to find a monkey in my make-up bag and he was shaking a bottle of my make-up. She yelled at him to leave, and he just sat there. Bibbi had to resort to calling down the hall for the staff, who snapped a towel in his direction and he ran out. It would have been nice if we knew that monkeys would do that.

I got to thinking about these monkeys and realized that I am actually lucky that they didn't run off with everything I own. As a tourist from a faraway land, I had no idea what pests they were. I started to think about how the locals must feel. Everyone working a fruit stand would need to guard it. These monkeys are everywhere. Also, what about ancient people? They would have needed to have supplies guarded at all times. Those monkeys could quickly steal anything. I also started to think that all countries/cultures have their pests....things that the people who live there know about and have systems in place to handle it. The uneducated tourist needs to be open-minded about these things. We can be such "know it alls". The first day or so I was in Sri Lanka, a local man saw me looking lovingly at the monkeys and he said to me "no good-bad monkeys" I should have listened. I was warned. I just didn't listen. How often does that happen? We think we "know" and we really don't. The monkeys really are cute and look harmless, but don't be fooled. I think this lesson applies to many situations we find ourselves in.


  1. LOL! That is good to know about the monkey situation there. Don't want to leave my passport lying around in monkey infested countries. :)

    When I hit my 30s, I was bitten by the travel bug, so I try to take a trip to another land once a year. Sri Lanka is on my list for next year, unless I am able to pull off a miracle and make it to the World Cup in South Africa.

    What other places have you been to? And how often do you travel?

  2. Dave, I travel all the time. I am taking a break right now. I am actually sick of traveling and want to rest for now. I am on a mission to sort out and re-decorate my home. I also need to pay off my credit card for my travels. I will be ready to go out traveling again someday. I would guess in a year or so I will start up again.