Isabel, Amber, me, Nico, and James

Well, there was no putting it off anymore… Amber left today. You know what though? The mind is a powerful thing, and I’m convincing myself that she’s still here. It’s easier to do than usual because we didn’t actually see her leave.

Here’s the location of Tafi Atome. It’s not quite as far as the waterfalls we went to (Wli), but it’s still quite a hike considering the roads to get there.
Nico, happier than ever

Nico’s final wish was to see some animals before he leaves on Tuesday, so James, Nico, Isabel, and I decided to get out of the house and do a day trip to the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary. It’s only about two and a half hours away, but you have to take two different tros and then motorbikes for the rest of the way. We left around 10, and Amber walked us out to the street to catch a tro. It was weird that we were the ones leaving her and knowing that when we get back later, she’ll be gone.

James, acting like he doesn’t think this is awesome

We got a tro pretty quickly, and when we started getting close to the first transfer point, the mate (the guy who collects the money) told us that they were willing to take us all the way to the sanctuary, wait for us to go through, and then drive us all the way back to Frankadua. Sounds like a good deal, except when we asked him how much, he said, “we’ll negotiate in Kpeve” (the first transfer point). We got there, dropped some people off, and kept going without a negotiation. Then we started really pestering him until he finally gave us a number: 100 cedis for the rest of the round trip. We quickly did the math and realized that, according to the fare estimates we had, we would save 7 cedis each, and there would be no transfers to worry about. We came back and agreed on 100, he tried to up it to 150, and we shook our heads and said 100 until he conceded. Score one for the yevus! Oh, that’s another thing I don’t think I’ve talked about. In Ewe, “yevu” means white person/foreigner, so when we’re walking anywhere, everyone yells it to get our attention. The kids will just keep repeating “yevu, yevu, yevu, yevu” until you acknowledge them.

Isabel, looking like she was born with a monkey on her arm

Anyway, we made it to the monkey sanctuary after asking about 15 people for directions and getting stuck behind a funeral procession. We got assigned a guide at the welcome center and he walked with us to buy some bananas for the monkeys and explained how the monkey sanctuary came into existence. In the town, there used to be only traditional religions, and they worshipped the monkeys. After Christianity entered the town, the Christians tried to attack the traditional religions by attacking the monkeys and the forest. Eventually, some external groups found out about what was happening and started working to protect the forest. Now, there’s no hunting or cutting or taking wood in the forest. Dogs also aren’t allowed in the town because they don’t get along with the monkeys. The money that they make from tourists goes to conserving the forest, various community building projects (library, computer center, day care, etc), scholarships for further education for exceptional students in the town, and a few other places. It’s a pretty cool setup!

Me, smiling despite the banana goop all over my hand

Now, if you know me, you know that I HATE bananas. That’s not just when it comes to eating them… I don’t like to touch them or smell them or look at them. Monkeys, on the other hand, love bananas, and that’s how you lure them out of the trees. You can even get them to jump up on your arm! But, of course, you have to be holding a banana. I fought through my internal struggle, decided I could sanitize the heck out of my hand afterwards, and went for it. So worth it! The monkeys jumped right out of the trees onto your arm! We got to walk through the forest a little too. The whole thing was pretty awesome. We were only there for 45 minutes or so, but I still think it was worth it.

Afterwards, the driver brought the tro around to pick us up, and he drove us home! Best agreement ever. The house felt a little emptier when we got back and Amber was gone. I’m feeling pretty drained, but I think we’re going to try to watch a movie before bed. I anticipate falling asleep.

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