Written by Captain Mary on Monday, May 12, 2008

While staying at the Serengeti Wildlife Lodge in Tanzania in the middle of the Serengeti National Park, we really enjoyed the antics of the Vervet Monkeys, they just get into everything. The day we arrived, we were dusty and headed directly to the bar, Margo doesn't drink but the bar has the best view over-looking everything. A great place for sunsets too. I went to the bar and got a nice cold Tanzanian beer. Margo and I sat for only a moment when Vervet monkeys started coming out of the trees and bushes. They didn't appear to be afraid of anything. The monkeys had some issues they were total drunks. Any beer bottle unattended was scooped up, they were nice enough to place it right back on the table. We watched as other guests would stand up and look over the railing leaving their beer on the table, the minute they walked away a monkey was taking a sip. The invasion was on, they were everywhere, I guess it was Happy Hour. Me and Margo could not stop laughing and taking pictures. The monkeys were beginning to get a little too close to the guests and the bartender had to put his foot down, as soon as he came out from behind the bar the monkeys took off. Apparently this was a common ritual and the monkeys definitely knew the bartender.

The next morning I went shopping before our Safari, I needed something with easy access of my cameras, I found what I thought was the perfect bag. I went to the cashier to pay for my wonderful new item and she says to me "You are getting a monkey basket", I smiled and said "yes", not knowing what that really stood for. Our guide was waiting for us to go on Safari, as we were entering the van, he says to me "you have a monkey basket", I didn't want to feel stupid so I just smiled. I don't get it, what is a monkey basket. The morning spent on Safari, but that is another story, lets talk about one animal at a time. Lunch time back to the lodge, walking toward the dinning room we all notice that the sliding glass doors are opened just a bit, they do that mostly for ventilation. We also noticed some activity on the table tops. The vervet monkeys were up to no good, they were running in and out of the dinning room stealing silverware and anything they could get their little grubby hands on, we watched and were entertained so long we almost forgot about lunch.

The next morning I got up really early before there was any human activity, I took my camera bag aka monkey basket with me. There right in front of me was a mom monkey with the smallest baby I have ever seen, she was cleaning and cuddling him, putting my bag down, grabbed one of my cameras, leaving my bag behind me so I could get on the ground for a good photo. Suddenly I heard a sound behind me I turned to find another monkey in my basket grabbing at my camera, I got up and ran toward him, he quickly ran up a tree taking the only thing his tiny hand could grab quickly, my smokes. I ran after him shouting as he was tearing open the pack of smokes, I didn't want him to get poisoned. These monkeys have all the bad habits. He got the pack open and began throwing cigarettes at me one at a time, hitting me in the head. I must have made quite a bit of commotion, some of the people who worked at the lodge came over, they were laughing hysterically, with their beautiful accents one of them says, "they took it because you have a monkey basket, its an invitation". Well I know now what a "Monkey Basket is", a place for monkey toys. The monkey finally threw the pack at me, hitting me in the head and disappeared out of sight.

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