Africa 2011, Part 5.

Not everything we saw was big. Some of the best things we saw were small. For example, we saw a slender mongoose. He ran into the ground cover before Cricket could get a good shot, but we at least got a photo of him giving us the stink-eye from behind a log.

One of our coolest animal encounters involved mongeese. (I don’t think the plural of “mongoose” is “mongeese”, but I like it better and this is my blog and I’m not being graded by a schoolteacher, so there it is. I want to start a national campaign, by the way. I read somewhere that the singular of “sheep” should be “shoop”, and goshdarnit if I can’t stop thinking about that. Can we all get behind The Lone Shoop English Language Amendment, team?) Once again, dumb luck. We were out one morning, and I wanted to take a picture of a tree with some of its bark ripped off. Some of the trees look like they’re bleeding, and it makes a hell of a photo.

While I’m taking the photo of the tree, Cricket, who is looking out the opposite window, says, “What are those things all over the anthill?” A family of dwarf mongeese had taken over an abandoned anthill and they were coming out for their morning sun-warming. And bonus, big lizard near their front door!

I squeed for several minutes over that. What’s especially interesting is that we came back the next day and the anthill was empty. So we just happened to be there at the right place at the right time.

Another cutey-cute moment was when The Moomins and I were filling up the tank at the small filling station. The attendant said (now remember what I said earlier about the letter “r”), “You should look up in that trrrree. Theh ah bets theh, hanging.” Both The Moomins and I thought he said, “Birds”, so we walk over and are looking for birds and then we see them. Two insanely cute fruit bats hanging there staring at us, occasionally swinging a tiny bit in the wind. OMG, I was so excited. I took fifteen or so photos of these guys in the hopes that something would come out. I may have to print one of these and frame it on my wall because I love bats so much. Their foxy faces and leathery wings fill me with happiness. It looks like their ears are almond slivers held on with masking tape!

We saw a whole bunch of reptiles as well. We saw both the male and female amana, which appears to be some kind of iguana. The male is the blue-headed one.

We saw both male and female skinks. The female appears to have lost her orange tail, but still make a lovely couple.

There was a highly camouflaged skink on a tree stump that drove Cricket and me slight crazy. I could see it, and he couldn’t, but there were no landmarks near him, so the conversation sounded like this (please imagine through gritted teeth): “He’s right there next to the – okay, you see that stick? Not the brown one, the browner one! Okay, follow my finger. You’re not looking at my finger! Okay, do you see that leaf? Not that leaf, the crinkly-er one! He’s next to the leaf. What do you mean, you still can’t see him?!??” etc. Finally Cricket saw it and we had to take a picture of it even though it’s not a particularly exciting skink just because we went through all of that hullabaloo.

One day there was a water monitor truckin’ it by the side of the road. I don’t know where he was going or what he was going to do when he got there, but he was moving and no one was going to get in his way.

We got a blurry-but-still-usable shot of his tongue. That’s a pretty great tongue.

The Moomins spotted a wee baby leopard tortoise one day. He was the size of a man’s fist. I voted to scoop him up and give him cuddles, but I was outvoted by the incredibly boring people I traveled with. So no tortoise-cuddles. Bah.

The best thing I saw on this trip, though, without a doubt, was Gizzy. Do you remember before I left, I said I wanted more than anything else in the world to see a lesser bushbaby? Well, we went to this place called Marloth Park and stayed in a B&B-type house belonging to a woman named A. Marloth Park is adjacent to Kruger Park, but it’s a series of timeshares where the animals just roam around you and your house. There’s no giant protective fence. It’s kinda great, and also like taunting death when you go from your car to the house (which is the only time you’re really exposed to the toothy clawed ones). A. was taking us around the first day on a game drive when I tentatively asked, “Are there any bushbabies around here?” A. paused and said, “You know, it’s a secret, but I have one. You’re really not supposed to, but a cleaning woman found him abandoned as a baby and I took him in and fed him and now he lives with me. Would you like to meet him?”

(I don’t remember the next few seconds.)

I tried to be a normal-type person and I said, “Yes” in what I hoped was a normal-type-person voice, and A. said, “Well when we get home tonight he’ll be up and you can meet him. He might even jump on your shoulder.”

We went around for a few hours looking at various beasties being awesome, but all I could think about was meeting this little primate. Bushbabies are primates and they have little human Gollum hands with teeny fingernails. Finally, after about a hundred years, we got back and A. said, “What would you like to do now?” I gave up on being normal and yelled, “Bushbaby!” Luckily she laughed and said okay, so we went to her house. She said his name was Gizzy, which is short for Gizmo. Then she wandered around for a little while saying, “Hello Gizzy, hello, where are you?” Finally A. looked on top of her bureau and said, “Oh, there he is.”

OH MY GOSH WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT THING. Then it jumped down and onto my shoulder holy eeeeeeeeeeee

What I’m thinking in that picture is if it possible to shove him down my shirt and then run away with him forever and ever. I then made a foolish mistake and decided I should pet him. I started to stroke his fur and Gizzy did not care for that one bit, no he did not. He made a chk-chk-chk noise and bit me on the finger with his teeny-tiny teefers. It only made me love him more because he thought he was a big killing machine, grrr. Here are the toothmarks. He couldn’t even break the skin.

Here are a few of the millions of pictures of Gizzy.

Here is Gizzy eating bananas.

Here is Gizzy after he took his banana back up on the top of the bureau.

Bushbabies are amazing. They can jump, boy. I found a video of Senegalese bushbabies boinging around their enclosure. They look a little bit different – longer faces, longer ears – but they bounce the same. It’s pretty great to watch.

Here’s an interesting fact about lesser galagos, as they’re also called. Before they jump, they pee a tiny bit on their hands for traction. I expected A.’s house to smell like pee, but it didn’t. When Gizzy landed on The Moomin’s arm and his little feets were wet, she said her arm didn’t smell like anything. I think that is just the greatest thing ever. They have non-stinky pee. And they are so so soft, like chinchillas. They are truly perfect little beings. I miss Gizzy. Sniff.

Addendum: This one is called Gizmo too! So smootchy!

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