Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sights, Sounds, and Smells

How's that for a hodgepodge of topics?

Let's take them in turns.

Sounds:  I have been puttering around today with my iTunes playing in the background.  And I know it's a playlist of my favorite songs, but, man, is it really hitting the spot!  Every song brings great memories and associations.  Don't you love that?

Smells:  I came home the other day to a terrible smell in my apartment.  It smelled like something burning.  I assessed every outlet and appliance with no success.  I thought I had isolated the smell to the living room and opened windows to try and flush it out.  When I went to bed it was still not gone, so I let the cats into my room so they wouldn't spend all night with the awful smell.  They are not easy to sleep with.  So that meant I didn't sleep and was almost late for the shuttle for the next morning.  (I was almost late not so much because of the lack of sleep but because my hot water was nonexistent, and I spent the morning trying out each of three showers trying to get hot water to no avail.)  Before I left I hastily scribbled a note to my housekeeper to try and find the smell and eliminate it.  When I came home she told me it was from cleaning the oven.  Which made perfect sense!  I felt stupid for not thinking of it earlier.  She apologized for worrying me; it was not a huge deal so we laughed it off. 

In the good smells department, I have been getting fresh bouquets of flowers at the farmers' market on Fridays.  I pick out a weird assortment of flowers and have the vendor put them together prettily, and I am always amazed at how inexpensive the total is.  For such gorgeous flowers that would cost tens of dollars in the U.S. I pay a fraction of the cost because they're locally sourced.  This week I have an odd combination of fuchsia anthurium, gerbera daisies, lilies, and some purple baby's-breath-like thing.  It is making my house smell so amazing, particularly the lilies.  I love it!

As for sights, this is the really exciting one!  Way to bury the lede, I know.

I came home from work the other day and walked inside and starting putting things away.  My doorbell rang; it was a neighbor who had been a few steps behind me coming up the stairs.  She asked whether I'd seen the monkeys.  Umm, no!

Sure enough, I went back outside and found a whole troop of vervet monkeys in our backyard!!  I had only previously seen one monkey at a time, so this was super exciting.  The troop had one alpha male, several mature females, numerous juveniles, and two little babies.  There were about 15 in total.  They were inside the fence around our pool and on the stairs up to another neighbor's house and were having a grand old time!  They had absolutely no concern for us being there.  The juveniles jumped and played and fought and just were absolutely adorable.  The alpha male did some exploring, played a little hide-and-seek with us around a lamp post, and climbed up our building to get a better view.  The babies alternated between trying to play with the juveniles and cuddling with their moms.  At one point I ran inside to grab my camera and probably spent 30 minutes out there watching them until they finally moved on down the hill.  My favorite pics and videos were of the moms cuddling and grooming their babies.  The juveniles also provided some great comic relief by jumping into and promptly falling out of a very small tree.  A couple came close to us but never frighteningly close. 

My experiences in southern Africa with vervet monkeys was always overwhelmingly negative because they associated humans with food and made general pests out of themselves, knocking over garbage cans and literally stealing food out of people's hands at safari camps.  This troop in particular does not have that same association, thankfully, and none of our neighbors have any intention of doing anything to change this.  Our guards say they've never even tried to get into our garbage cans, thankfully. 

Anyway, I love these neighbors.  They only come around every now and then and are very self-sufficient and non-threatening.  People have come to find a monkey sitting on their porch furniture before, but that's about as invasive as they've been.  It's a nice little neighborhood :-).

Enjoy some of the pics below.  The videos won't upload with my slow internet, so these will have to do.  (Note: I reduced the files sizes to get them to upload, so the quality is not great.)

Juveniles playing in the yard

One of the more curious monkeys


The tree they liked to jump into.  And fall out of.

Trying to coax the juveniles to get a move on.

Momma and baby.

Contemplating a swim.  They did not swim, thankfully.

Foraging :-)

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