Before I met my husband Tom, my immediate family and I were stationed in Mogadishu, Somalia, East Africa. My dad was the liaison between the American military forces and the Somali military forces.
We lived in a huge mansion. It had two stories, plus a flat roof accessible by stairs. It had four bathrooms; a beautiful garden; 24-hour gate guards for security; a large thatched-roof gazebo; and a wide variety of indigenous animals including dik diks, tortoises, and guinea fowl. (We tried to hide a monkey once, but we were caught and could no longer keep him.)
Because Mogadishu is located in the desert, there had to be a place to go to escape the heat. K-7 was a compound with a tall apartment building; a bar; an audio-visual room; a snack shack; bathrooms; and an Olympic-sized rectangular swimming pool.
The swimming pool attracted many visitors.
The compound was surrounded by trees, however, and a few of the wild baboons that lived in them were troublemakers.
My dad drove a large, blue Bronco.
One particularly arid African day, my brother, two sisters, my parents, and I went to K-7 to swim. There were sun chairs situated on the cool deck around the pool. It really was very nicely set up.
We all swam for a couple of hours and then had to head back home. Well, my dad had left the driver’s side window down for air, and when we walked back to the Bronco, a very large, aggressive baboon was already occupying the cab. He had opened my Dad’s briefcase and was rummaging through his papers. My dad was not happy about this at ALL! (Remember when you were in school and you used the old excuse, "The dog ate my homework"? Well, my dad would have been laughed out of the country if he had said, "A baboon ate my briefing papers!") Dad opened the driver’s side door, hoping that the giant primate would peacefully exit the vehicle.
The baboon jumped out of the truck and we all heaved a sigh of relief. Then he went around the BACK of the truck and ended up on the right side of the vehicle, where my sisters, my mom, and I were.
The baboon charged at my baby sister Lisa. My dad had opened the passenger side door by now, and by what MUST have been angelic interference, Lisa was able to run to the relative safety of the Bronco.
The baboon was still in the mood for "tag", though, so next he charged my baby sister, Barbie, who similarly escaped being bitten or clawed to death by this large hairy primate who bore a striking resemblance to an ex-boyfriend that I had dated in school. Our guardian angels must have been working overtime that day, because the baboon never tried to climb up into the cab with my sisters.
My little brother James was smart. He went around the BACK of the truck and got in through the driver’s side door before Bad News Baboon could notice him.
There were only two people left who were standing outside the Bronco: my mom and I.
The baboon charged my mom. She grabbed her canvas beach bag and waved it from side to side in the front of the baboon. It was a desperate defensive measure. She was scared! There was always the potential for contracting rabies from a baboon bite, and she had already been through that nightmare as a girl when one of her younger brothers was bitten by a monkey. The bite had resulted in her baby brother having to have a series of rabies shots, administered straight into his navel. It was no wonder she was frightened and she may have been having flashbacks as she stared into the cold, primal eyes of her hairy attacker. She yelled out of desperation as she swung the canvas bag back and forth to fend off the wild animal.
"Derek! Derek! Save me!" she screamed.
What could my dad do? H was in the truck watching my sisters and brother. However, he was a fast thinker. Maybe he could be successful in DISTRACTING the wild beast just long enough for my mom to run for the safety of the Bronco! He tapped his horn.
It worked! The startlted animal forgot all about my mom as she ran to safety. Instead, he focused his attention on the only target that was left in front of him: me.
To give you an idea of how big this baboon was, I stand up to a full glorious height of 4’ 7". The would-be assassin before me stood about 4’ 9". He charged at me, baring his sharp teeth. I KNOW I saw the beginning signs of gingivitis in his ugly mouth. With my guardian angel Solaris protecting me, I sprinted to the Bronco like a cat on methamphetamines and climbed up into the safety of the vehicle. We were shaken, but all of us had escaped the situation with our lives!
For our safety and for the safety of future visitors to K-7, arrangements were made for the Marines to capture the wild baboon in a net and release him into the "bush" (the uninhabited desert surrounding Mogadishu). Baboons have remarkable long-term memories. They remember the faces of the people that they don’t like. It can be a very dangerous situation.
K-7 was much safer after the capture was performed. We still used the pool, but thanks to the Marines, we never again had to face the aggressive antics of Bad News Baboon!
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