Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eye raising experiences with the pirates

Remember this cute-as-abutton little criminal, Legion of Fans (LOF)? He is, or was, the Pirate Broken Hand, a member of a particularly scuzzy band of piratical primates that inhabit Pretoriuskop Camp in the Kruger National Park.

In all my travels on the Dark Continent I have yet to come across a band of scavengers as mean, as cunning, as low down and as dirty as the Pirates of Pretoriuskop. Vervet monkies tend to be a problem wherever you travel over here, but the Pirates sailed through the trees in a league of their own.

We had a love-hate relationship, me and the pirates. I loved to hate them and would spend many hours, while washing monkey pooh off my tent or assisting Mrs Blog in stitching rents in the fly where someone's foot had trampolined through, coming up with novel ways of making the pirates walk the plank - for good.

But I am sad (just a teeny bit) to report that this year there is no sign of the leaders of this beastly band. As far as I could tell the pirate crown was jointly held by Broken Hand (above) and his brother, One-arm-one-leg (OAOL). OAOL was so fast that I was never able to get a picture of him. He was a will'o'the wisp who had lost his left leg and left forearm in some kind of accident.

He was the brains of the outfit - the first one to learn how to open monkey-proof bins (and him, a mobility-challenged monkey - quite amazing). He had also perfected the skill of decoy-and-ambush. Many a time I watched him hamming it up for a bunch of tour group tourists, sitting there all cute and helpless, the little armless and legless beggar, waiting for scraps of food and posing for photographs. All this time the heavy mob - Broken Hand, Blue Balls and the rest of the scoundrels, would be raiding the tourists' open-top safari vehicle, stealing their lunch boxes and crapping on their seats.

But they are gone. Broken Hand and OAOL are no more.

I doubt there has ever been a pirate who died of old age and although I haven't been game to ask the camp staff I fear that Broken Hand and OAOL may have been tried and executed under Rule .22.

I've never killed an animal in my life (well, there was that mouse in the back of the land rover) but there has been many a time I wished I had a .22, during a monkey raid. But my sights, LOF, would have been firmly fixed on that fellow camper or tour group attendant who was feeding the monkeys. They are the real criminals in this piece. When people feed monkeys, monkeys go bad. When monkeys go bad, national parks people have to shoot monkeys.

On a brighter note, the Pretoriuskop troop of monkeys is alive and well and flourishing. I've noticed lots of evil-eyed little babies clinging to their mummies' bellies, paying particular attention to lessons about how to open rubbish bins and how to select branches overhanging the very tops of tall dome tents so that when you pooh it is virtually impossible for the owner of the tent to clean it off without removing the entire fly sheet.

A safari guide told me that if you raise your eyebrows - theatrically - at a vervet monkey it will take it as a sign of aggression, and back off. I'm not totally convinced by this (and suspect the guide may have been having a lend of me) as I have tried this tactic a few times and had very mixed results.

The other day I did my best Groucho Marx at a young apprentice Pirate and he scampered off, tail between his legs. When I tried it on a grown male (son of Blue Balls by the size of his gonads), he climbed one branch higher up the tree, fixed me with a killer stare, raised his own eyebrows at me and started coming down towards me. I backed off. Vervets are tiny - a fully grown one is less than half my height if it stood erect - but they have sharp teeth and a pugnacious attitude that would do any little human man proud.

My most vexing encounter using the eyebrow method, and one I still haven't fully recovered from, occurred last year when a large party of Australians gathered at Pretoriuskop to celebrate one of Mrs B's significant birthdays.

Responding to shrieks of panic I found four of our lady guests bailed up inside their bungalow with a large blue-balled male vervet (the original Blue Balls, I believe) staring at them through their window.

Cautiously I approached and arched my eyebrows, as high and as confrontationally as I could.

The monkey stared back at me, lay back on one elbow, crossed his legs and proceeded to develop the largest, pinkest erection I have ever seen on a monkey.

I'm careful, these days, about how and where I raise my eyebrows.

As to the pirates, I don't know whether Broken Hand's hand was actually broken or if it was a genetic deformity due to inbreeding - these pirates don't get out of the camp much and they've always had a bit of a thing for their sisters in the troop.

The other day I saw a young male monkey limping as he scampered away from the rock I had pitched in his general direction. He paused atop a garbage bin and began working at the lid, using his supposedly injured appendage.

Dead pirates tell no tales, but I'm sure the legend lives on...


Jimbob said...

One can only presume a kid's book is on its way: "The adventures of Blue Balls and his lipstick loving friends." What news of the next book's title, given the connection to this post's marauding monkeys? What is wrong with your LOF that they remain fervently (as opposed to vervently) quiet when asked to call the name "Top Gun" several posts ago. Have these readers no pop culture? And importantly, what is the fastest animal in the world? Should I fake my orgasms? Is there parking in the red zone?
All the best to Mrs P.

ali g said...

Remember the shrieking and screaming of the four ladies in the bungalow last year and recall looking out my door and seeing you over there and then one of them screaming out 'that's the largest erection I've ever seen ....
Glad you've finally cleared that up. Whew!

Anonymous said...

At least JimBob knows the plural of monkey is monkeys...

tonypark said...

Very funny, Rebecca.

Ali G you are disgusting, as always.

Jimbob, a gentleman always fakes.

Java said...

But Jimbob didn't know it's actually Mrs. B and not P!

Anonymous said...

Think it through, Java, think it through...

And if I can have a crack at Jimbob's questions in order:
3.see 2