The sanctuary itself is in a teeny little village, in the middle of the jungle/forest/large grouping of trees and other vegetation…I’m not sure what the proper term is. I’m going to call it jungle. It sounds cooler. But anyway, you basically just grab a guide and a bunch of bananas and walk straight into the jungle. After about 10 minutes of walking, our guide started making loud kissing noises. And then. Just like in Jurassic Park, you hear a distant rustling of leaves that gets closer and closer and closer, encircling you, until (!), you are surrounded by monkeys!
This particular species of monkey is called the Mona monkey. According to our guide, the Mona monkeys live in groups of about 30-40, and there are at least three distinct herds/gangs/flocks/tribes (again, I don’t know what the correct word is…) that live in this particular jungle, each with its own male leader. The guide also told us that the monkeys are not afraid or shy, but they know when people don’t have any bananas, and won’t approach unless you do. (Or maybe they would if you had a big yellow hat).Bananas don’t grow in this particular part of the jungle, only plantains do, which is why they are such a treat. Usually, the Mona monkeys just eat berries, insects, and nuts. But fortunately, we had our banana offering for the monkey chief.
And now, brief tangent for my brother, who insists that I bring him a monkey as a souvenir:
In Southern Ghana, there are a lot of palm tree that produce a sticky white sap, that when fermented in the hot African sun, becomes a fairly alcoholic drink called palm wine. Now, palm wine to me is pretty nasty, its a little sour and a little pungent, but, because it's natural and comes from trees found in the monkey sanctuary jungle, I'm thinking a monkey would drink it. This was confirmed by my guide, who afterwards, watched me rather suspiciously.
But anyway, I'm thinking, silly brother of mine, that if you come visit me, we can go to the monkey sanctuary, get one of the monkeys drunk off of palm wine, and then sneak it back to my apartment. THEN we can train it sit on your back and look like one of those stupid animal backpacks that people seem to be wearing these days, so you can take it on the plane. Or we can just tranquilize it and stuff it in your suitcase. Either way, you can take it back to your apartment to be BFF with Bowser. Sound like a plan?
Ok. Tangent over.
After about 10 minutes, there were at least twenty monkeys surrounding us. Which meant you couldn’t keep an eye on all of them at once. Which lead to the following progression of pictures:
First, this little guy jumped on me from behind when I wasn’t looking. In the picture, I think I look scared, but really I was just surprised.
Second, the monkey crawled onto my shoulder and began eating the banana that I was holding.
And then, my vision was obscured by monkey fur. At one point, I had three monkeys on my shoulders, playfully squabbling over the banana. Now that’s what I call have a monkey on your back (ba dum chshhhhhh).
We only had one bunch of bananas, which is about 8, so after we ran out, the monkeys got bored and moved on. My coworkers, the guide, and I continued to walk through the jungle for a little while. In addition to monkey business, it turns out the guide also knew a lot about the different types of trees and stuff. He also kept telling us to look out for snakes, which made me nervous, but thankfully we didn’t come across any. (Ghana has a lot of scary snakes, including the black mamba, the largest venomous snake in Africa!)
After goofing around in the jungle for a while, we got back to the village, only to discover that our car engine had died. There’s not even a doctor in that village, let alone a mechanic. Our poor driver popped the hood and did his best to make the car run, but since it was getting late in the afternoon, and we figured it would be much trickier to get back to Hohoe in the dark, we decided to abandon the car for the time being.