Margo Weinstein

Chapter Five: Don’t Throw Bug Spray at Baboons

Wild Travel in Zimbabwe

I was not afraid of the mighty Zambezi River, aka the “Slambezi.” I was afraid of the inexperienced and blissfully unaware (for the moment) tourists who would be paddling in my raft through some of the biggest commercially runnable rapids in the world—nineteen rapids over seventeen miles of the Zambezi River starting just below Victoria Falls. Within the first few minutes of a long day on the river, half the paddlers in my raft toppled into the water and were quickly scooped up by safety kayaks. After each of the big rapids, more paddlers were in the river than in their rafts. Despite the many capsizes and ridiculously high number of tourists flying out of the rafts, it was the most thrilling day I have ever spent on the water.

I also was not, but probably should have been, afraid of the two adult male baboons who entered my hotel room the next morning through the open balcony door. Hearing strange noises, I jumped out of the shower, wrapped myself in a towel, and stepped out of the bathroom. The larger baboon sat on the desk holding an apple in one hand and my copy of David Lamb’s book The Africans in the other. The second baboon sat on the pile of the stuff I had dumped from my open duffel, inspecting and rejecting the contents as inedible or uninteresting. If I had been as smart as a baboon, I would have left the hotel room immediately, abandoning it and its contents to the wild animals. Instead, I hurled toiletries and screamed at the baboons until they left, carrying something I had stored in a Ziplock bag. To my relief, the contents were not my passport or safari video. The contents turned out to be inedible tampons, which the baboons peeled the paper covers off as though peeling bananas and then tossed in disappointment.

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