There was a moment in this incident that was so terrifying. Even worse than my mouse attack today. I have a resident mouse that is quickly assuming rat proportions, though Jed assured me it was a mouse when he was down on holidays. Something about it having a segmented tail. I’ve been trying to trap the thing but it simply hasn’t got the good sense to take the bait.
Today I was choosing some chalkbags for a customer from a shelf where they are stored, when The Shadow suddenly jumped out from among the chalkbags and nearly hit me in the face! I truly didn’t know any rodent other than Mighty Mouse could get airborne like that. We call him The Shadow because when it first appeared it was as tiny as a cockroach and we wondered if we were imagining it. Since then it’s become altogether too bold. And I’m a bit fed up. It’s even nibbled on my toes.
Now usually rats, mice, snakes, and nasties don’t bother me that much. I’ve always HAD to be the calm one, because, well, SOMEONE HAS TO BE. We can’t all jump on a chair and scream like Ranyhyn does. Or just ignore them like my husband used to do, not if one does not want them crawling across one’s face during the night. But today, nearly being socked in the eye by an airborne mouse elicited a scream from me. I went and fetched Gabriel’s machete but the wretched thing wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to lop off its head.
There was this incident in Africa that elicited the same sort of scream from me. I think anybody would have screamed in this situation.
We were in Masai Mara National Park in Kenya, having visited also the Serengeti in Tanzania. Our campsite was next to a grove of trees full of chattering monkeys, and one morning as I ate my porridge, one of the cheeky little wretches emptied its bladder right above me. It missed my porridge by THAT MUCH. (Picture my fingers a few centimetres apart.) That wasn’t what made me scream though.
During the day, at lunch time, Dave–or it may have been that maniac Dennis– would drive to the lodge where paying guests to the reserve stayed in hotel accommodation. Around the lodge a large number of baboons, some with babies clinging to their chests or backs, sat about chattering and delousing each other. Some of them climbed up on the roof of our truck. While the rest of the Hobos went off to have a cool drink in the bar, two or three of us always had to remain with the truck to prevent our stuff from being stolen.
This particular day I stayed with Pippa. We decided to get out the leftovers from the night before to have for lunch while we waited. All the food was stored under the removable wooden floor of the truck. It was divided into about four big segments. I lifted up the appropriate ‘cupboard/fridge door’ and took out a plastic container of stew which I placed on the seat between Pip and me. What happened next was astonishing. Those baboons must just wait for some unsuspecting amateurs like us to come along. And by that time I was a seasoned traveller.
A huge baboon jumped from the roof into the truck right onto Pip’s back. I screamed. She screamed. I don’t know if it screamed! What went through my mind was that it was attacking Pip and she was going to be torn apart before my eyes! Because baboons are known to be quite vicious. But the bold creature reached over, grabbed the plastic container of OUR lunch, and was off before we even stopped screaming. We both looked at each other in disbelief with some sort of exclamation on our lips, probably a rude one. Then we spun around to look at the retreating baboon, a wicked giggle emanating from its hungry mouth.
It scurried back over to its mates, losing no time taking the lid off the container, and greedily devouring the contents. The thing didn’t even have the decency to share any! The container was then discarded and left forlornly on the ground. I say forlornly because I knew I had to brave the baboon troupe and retrieve it. Every container and food implement we possessed was precious. I waited until the animals had dispersed a bit and was able to get it without being jumped on like Pip. Well, hasn’t she got a tale to tell her grandchildren? She probably has got some by now. And didn’t I have a reason to be thankful for Father’s care that day?
After that, I don’t know that Pippa was under the same protection as me though. When we were on the riverboat ‘cruise’ on the Zaire River, one day Pip was on the wide, flat roof–which became our bed at night–peering over the edge at the water. The camera in her pocket apparently desired a bit of a dip and fell in, I mean, not into her pocket but OUT of it and into the river far below with a gleeful little splish. The really sad part of this chapter in poor Pip’s African adventure was that the camera was not hers. It belonged to one of the guys on the trip who Pip just happened to like very much. I don’t think he felt the same way about her though, and obviously nor did his camera which preferred the wide expanse of the Zaire River to Pip’s pocket.
One afternoon deepening into evening back at Masai Mara, as we drove back to our monkey-tree campsite, the truck fell in behind two lions walking along the track. One can easily see from these majestic creatures why Yahshua is known, apart from being the Lamb of YHWH, as the Lion of Yudah. Each walked in a tyre track, and despite our truck coming up noisily, as trucks do, behind them, they did not so much as bat an eyelash. They just continued their nonchalant pace without even looking back at us for about three kilometres before wandering off into the grass. As for us, who cared that dinner would be a little later that night. It was worth it to witness such an amazing example of YHWH’s creative handiwork. No wonder lions are called the king of the beasts. They are not even moved by a truck 160 or something times as big as them.
I’ve travelled on every continent except Antarctica. But Africa was special because I had wanted to go there since I was a little girl. As a child I had devoured stories about that land, its animals, and its people. My dream was to be a missionary there. At the end of that trip, I was intending to live and work as a nurse in South Africa, and had obtained my nurses registration there for that purpose. But those plans weren’t Father’s plans for me. I had to break off the trip in Nairobi, Kenya, and return to London and Australia because I was pregnant.
One day a few years ago, when my children were being particularly recalcitrant about doing their schoolwork, and acting up, I suddenly blurted out, “I GAVE UP BEING A MISSIONARY IN AFRICA FOR YOU THREE. APPRECIATE THAT!” They all stared at me. It was the first time I had ever told them.
Just getting in some practice. This was at the ranger station before we went up to see the gorillas.