Several people have asked in the months since I’ve been in Moz if I’ve seen any wildlife. You know, zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions. It’s an innocent enough question since Africa is known for its safaris, but I live in a city. So that would be a bit like asking if one sees buffalo in Chicago or mountain lions in Manhattan.
This is not to say I never experience wildlife. However, it’s not nearly as glamorous as gazelle running past my bedroom window.
For example, a couple weeks ago I was walking to a friend’s house to watch the Olympics on their satellite TV. I was walking along a sidewalk, down a main road, past large walled-in houses, when I felt something around my ankle. I thought it was a plastic bag that had blown around it, so I kicked it away. Then I felt it again, more strongly. What the heck? I looked down and caught a glimpse of fur by my feet. I thought it must have been a small dog, but it wasn’t fur or a wet nose that I felt against my ankle. It was more like little hands. I looked more closely. A monkey! I gave a little shriek and jumped back, afraid of getting bit when I haven’t had any rabies vaccinations. It stared at me looking ready to pounce and latch on more tightly. The guard at the nearest house watched the whole interaction, looking unsure whether he should laugh or not. I asked if the monkey lived there. He did, and the guard immediately made himself look busy trying to get the monkey back in the gate while I continued on my way.
Yesterday I went to Central Market to buy vegetables. Central Market is a more “upscale” market on the central plaza near my office. It’s a collection of about a dozen vegetable venders housed in a cement structure. It’s slightly more expensive than buying from a street vender or from the large open-air market, but it’s much more convenient and the produce is generally always good quality. As the vender was weighing my carrots, I noticed something moving on the ground out of the corner of my eye. I looked down and watched a large rat run nearly over my toes. Does he have no fear?? And does he stay on the ground or run over the vegetables as well? Ew, ew, ew.
These are just some examples of my African wildlife experiences. Sadly, no zebras or giraffes, but just think, I actually have much more up-close-and-personal encounters with city wildlife than I ever would with safari wildlife. And I’m becoming somewhat of an expert on rats. Perhaps I should start leading urban safaris…