"… I mentioned last week that we spent the last couple of days of our Uganda trip
at a lodge near Murchison Falls. The lodge was straight out of a
Hemingway novel – perfectly lovely in every way – but I would be lying
to you if I told you that I didn’t panic just a smidge when Shannon and I walked in our room and saw that it was “open air.”
Now here’s a lesson you can take with you for the rest of your
earthly days, and you don’t even have to pay me for it: “open air” is
some fancy travel agent talk for WE AIN’T GOT NO AIR CONDITIONERS,
However, given what we’d recently seen
in Kampala, I was able to quickly put the no air conditioner thing in
perspective. Not to mention that I was on a once-in-a-lifetime trip
with some of the best people I’ve ever met in my whole life. And so if
the Lord wanted to use my time in Africa to rid me of any freon-related
strongholds, then I was not going to get in His way.
As it turned out, the lodge’s electricity came from a generator, and
they turned off the generator three times a day. For those of you who
are keeping score at home, that means there were three times a day when
the ceiling fans didn’t work because, funny thing, CEILING FANS REQUIRE
Honestly, I didn’t even notice the power outages during the daytime.
We weren’t in our rooms a lot, and between the hiking and the ferry
riding and the river exploring and the animal watching, there just
wasn’t a lot of time to sit in the room and think about how you
couldn’t turn on the TV if you wanted to, only OH WAIT, THERE WERE NO
TV’S THERE, CLEARLY I WAS TRICKED INTO CAMPING.
The first night at the lodge we had an absolutely delightful dinner,
and once Shannon and I got back to our room it dawned on us that the
generator was going to turn off around 1 in the morning. Which meant
that the ceiling fan would not be operating. Which meant that between
the mosquito nets surrounding our beds and the lack of air circulation,
there was no way we could possibly continue to breathe normally after
After a considerable amount of deliberation, we decided to sleep
with the sliding glass door open. In retrospect this was probably AN
INCREDIBLY FOOLISH DECISION, but at the time we believed that leaving
the door open was a stroke of brilliance because fresh air trumps no
air at all. Every single time.
About fifteen minutes after we opened the door, Shannon sat up on her bed and said, “WHAT ABOUT THE MONKEYS?”
And I was all, “HUH?”
And she was all, “THE MONKEYS! WHAT IF MONKEYS COME IN OUR ROOM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? OUR DOOR IS WIDE OPEN!”
She made an excellent point.
Now in our defense, Shannon and I were both English majors at our
respective colleges. And while I recall taking courses in
transformational English grammar and Shakespearean poetry and
whathaveyou, I was never required to take a course in How To Stop A
Monkey Attack. I doubt that Shannon was, either. So we were both
dealing with a pretty limited skill set in terms of How To Combat The
So we talked about some different solutions, and as we discussed
those solutions – none of which, interestingly enough, involved
sleeping with the door closed – I wandered into the bathroom so I could
wash my face and brush my teeth. I kept thinking about what it would be
like to wake up and see a real-live monkey on the other side of my
mosquito net, and I decided that it would probably be a little
And I decided it would probably make me scream.
Now I can’t speak for Shannon, and I don’t know this for sure, but
I’m fairly certain that she was having the same thoughts. Because when
I walked out of the bathroom and looked at our open doorway, this is
what I saw.
Internets, I give you Shannon’s Monkey Alarm (patent pending).
For the record, I nearly wet my pants when I saw it.
Because monkeys? They can jump. From one tree to another tree, even.
And so the notion that our two foot tall chair WITH A BACKPACK AND
WATER BOTTLE ON THE SEAT would serve as some sort of Monkey Deterrent
made me laugh until I cried.
Shannon’s rationale was that if a monkey ran into the chair, the
water bottle would fall and wake us up. And that made perfect sense to
me because then we would have plenty of time to, I don’t know, SCREAM
AT THE MONKEY?
Or to run and jump in the closet while we SCREAMED AT THE MONKEY?
Or – and this, I feel, is the most likely scenario – to try to hoist
ourselves up to the ceiling using only our mosquito nets, all the while
SCREAMING AT THE MONKEY?
But never let it be said that English majors don’t know how to
improvise. Because I’ll have you know that before the night was over,
Shannon had TOTALLY revised her original Monkey Alarm (patent pending)
She recognized that we needed something on top of the backpack that was a bit more hefty and stable than the bottle of water.
So she replaced the water with a bottle of sunscreen.
We found great comfort in that modification. And we slept the sleep
of angels. Because NO WAY a monkey gets past a bottle of sunscreen,
I feel certain that any respectable English major would agree."