Pandemic The Magic Bicycle Goes Bananas
As the smoke lifts from the burning corn cobs that line the fresh wet muddy ocean side road, the road begins to incline. The stiffness in my thighs is occasionally replaced by the lingering taste of rotten eggs and peanut butter burping in my mouth. My jar of Ramadam roasted peanut butter has been rationed conservatively in order to cycle through the central region of Sulawesi, Indonesia during the month long Muslim fasting holiday of Ramadam. The food options are scarce and my camping stove has replenished the moment with 2 minute instant noodles numerous times in the last couple of days.
Eggs are another food that appear along the road and are readily available; however, after hard boiling and eating the last two, then visiting them again shortly thereafter on the way out, I have been leaving the eggs for the chickens. There is limited refrigeration in the Tinombo region due to electrical shortages, most remote families receive only 4 hours a day of electricity, therefore, when the egg exits the chicken, is the real determining factor of palatable freshness. And since the Muslim majority is fasting for a month and only eating after sundown it can be assumed that there isn’t a big demand or turnover for the rotten eggs.
My local map isn’t to scale or topographical so I have been peddling along watching the mountain approach and feeling the road incline. As I begin to peddle up, up, up, the mountainous switch back road I look up through my muddy sunglasses, attempt to not to think about peanut butter and search for the big electrical tower that would indicate the mountain summit and the crest of the hill. I hear sounds unlike those of the usual macabre sounding psychotic roosters, foot long belching lizards or pencil thin snakes. The melted crayon green trees up above my head are swimming around as if stroked by a gusty tropical storm. The monkeys that perch over head seem to be jumping with their arms in the air, you are almost at the top, sort of celebration. I quickly remove my muddy sunglasses and allow my eyes to reason with my brain. Monkeys???
My legs immediately forget about peddling up the mountain, my stomach forgets about being hungry and my brain goes what the…...??? I then realize I AM looking at monkeys that are dangling in the original melted crayon green trees. The you are not in Kansas anymore Toto moment kicks into full bloom as I immediately park Pandemic The Monkey Loving Magic Bicycle against the first rock I spot and mid hill I climb up 20 feet of loose rock, break free of a giant cobweb that has more elasticity then a sling shot, apologize to the 3 inch spider for crashing into her home and perch myself under the monkey tree. Two tiny baby monkeys and the mom are startled by my approach and change branches as I realize I have no idea what appropriate monkey etiquette is, although, thoughts such as stupid tourist do not hug the wildlife come to mind.
As I squint my eyes through the setting sun peering at the acrobatic monkey show, my stomach begins to remind me of Ramadam and the thought that they might eat monkeys here. I immediately cheer for the safe keeping of my Selawesi Crested Mocaque monkey friends, for despite a government ban poaching is comon practice by local residence who claim they are a pesty nuissance. I continue to peddle and climb into the setting sun and the 40 kilometer (25miles) decent to the nearest village to find something strange, vegetarian and nutritious to eat. I hope it’s bananas. For if bananas are good enough for monkeys they are good enough for me.
Posted by Loretta Henderson