primates on parade.

Peace Corps Uganda: Some days we care for HIV orphans. Some days we feed pumpkin Peeps to baboons.

The road that links Tororo with Kampala is terrible. A journey from my home to the capital city involves bumping over organ-jarring potholes and swerving around craters for several hours confined in a cramped taxi, all while breathing clouds of dust and sweating.

Even so, the road to Kampala is not without its merits…er, merit. It runs right through Busitema forest, which happens to be home to a number of baboons.

what?

I have travelled over this particular stretch of road a few too many times in the last month, and I have developed a real fondness for these Busitema baboons. They offer entertainment that lifts the spirit, a sort of respite from road-induced irritation. Baboons occasionally try to wave down taxis, especially if passengers have bunches of bright yellow “ripes” (bananas) stored on the dashboard (very common practice here). They lounge around at the roadside, steal maize from unattended produce stands, and carry around cute little baby-boons on their backs, like this:

baby ‘boon

My last trip on that road occurred a few weeks ago when I was one of three volunteers who accompanied R. to Kampala as he was forced by order of Peace Corps medical to return home. What could have been a particularly somber journey westward dissolved into giddy merriment when my traveling companions and I shared some sugar-coated marshmallow-y Halloween treats with our forest friends. Peeps!

nibbling

As you can see, the little guys curiously enjoyed their saccharine artificially-orange confections.

contemplating peep

While a few baboons daringly nibbled on their Peeps on the tarmac, one particularly skittish fellow (below) rushed off into the bush with his sweet snack, guiltily gobbling while attempting to conceal himself.

territorialguy

At one point, I actually said, totally seriously: “Hey, Turn around. There’s a baboon all up in our grill.”

Special thanks to the fabulous miss Clara who actually thought to sent Peeps to Uganda par avion.

And to R., for being amazing and incredibly fun– even through gurgles and goblins. Bedi maber. Walaneno kome.

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