I am the world’s worst tourist. As soon as I arrive, I don’t attack the brochures of available tours. If I went to another country and didn’t take in any of the local sights, but rather spent all my time moving from the hotel bed to the restaurant table to the beach chair, I wouldn’t feel like I had missed out on anything. I’m just not really into doing the typical touristy “things”. The ultimate destination, actually, for me, is to go to a place where I know someone. When I know someone, I get to see the location through their eyes, and I love being “in the know” like the locals. I know the great places to eat and what is a good price for any given item. I hate bartering in a country where I don’t really have a frame of reference for prices. No matter how good of a deal I get, comparatively speaking, I always walk away thinking that I got royally ripped off.
While we were in paradise, we broke from our usual routine of sticking close to the beach or pool, and took part in a tour. Our first stop was a cultural play that I thought that I’d enjoy, being that I enjoy different cultures and have lived in a couple that are different from the one that I was raised. I was surprised to discover that I, actually, don’t like all things cultural. The play was really long, the music was awful (high pitched dinging really isn’t my taste) and one of the characters had a branch poked up his butt for some reason that I didn’t really catch, but left me feeling rather disturbed.
Our second stop was a monkey garden. I thought at first it would be interesting, but then I realized that the monkeys just wander around the park independently. “Be sure to keep hold of anything shiny and also your wallets, the monkeys will steal anything,” our guide warned as we stepped out of the vehicle.
Seeing this little guy, I had a hard time believing our guide’s words. How could something so cute and small be evil in flesh? Soon enough, I heard a choking yelp; the kind that is squeezed out when something takes you so much by surprise that the throat constricts with the shock and barely a noise can get out. Lola was in a tug of war over her water bottle with a monkey nearly half her size! I rushed over, grabbed the bottle from both of them and stomped my foot towards the monkey. He ran away, of course. We hadn’t even walked through the gates of the park and already we had been accosted by a disconcertingly human-like animal.
My back was tense with the fear of it all. My instinct reaction was to walk more and more closely to people around me, searching out safety in numbers. It didn’t matter if I knew them or not, there was comfort in the familiarity of species, an assurance that the guy with the fanny pack wouldn’t grab at me unexpectedly. Or maybe he would.
Soon, we were traveling in a large pack of humans, terrified of the erratic monkey behaviour. Surrounded by the safety of numbers, I relaxed a bit, letting Lola get a bit further away from my lightning speed grasp. She was still right beside her father, but I could see that as they looked at another monkey further in the forest, a large monkey was sitting nearby on a ledge, eyeing up Lola. I tried to get my husband’s attention by calling out his name a few times, but it was too late. The monkey, with super human reflexes, shot his arm out and grabbed at Lola’s hair. We think he was going for her hair tie. Lola’s reaction was to step back, away from the monkey’s grasp. The monkey as enraged that she had taken his prize out of reach and swatted at her face! My husband pushed Lola behind him, got down to face level and bared his teeth. For a few seconds, all of my husband’s teeth and the monkey’s teeth were exposed to the elements in a face off of dominance. Shortly, the monkey stepped down and my husband won. I rushed to Lola’s side, thinking that she would be terrorized. I thought for sure that this spelled the end of our walk in the park (and I would be lying if I said I didn’t secretly hope that she was too scared to go on). “Lola! Are you okay?” “I’m so glad that the monkey didn’t rip my shirt!”
That’s my girl. She’s got her priorities straight and it all comes down to fashion.
Let me tell you though, if I ever meet that monkey in a dark alley, I’ll be giving it a good slapping. That is after I stop trembling and rocking in the corner.