The Monkeys of Batur

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It happened in a flash. Just the other day. Invited to join a group heading up to Mount Batur – a destination I’d not yet visited in my 5+ years of living on the island – I agreed immediately. I barely had time to ask questions. Better that way.DSC02465

There was the climb. Under darkness and stars. On a path littered with lava-rock remnants of the 1963 volcanic eruption.

There was the slow and gentle rise of the sun. Behind clouds lurking several time zones away.

DSC02471There was a caldera. Eggs were boiled for hikers in the steaming recesses on the mount.

There was a place to lie down, momentarily slumber away the fatigue and pain.DSC02529

And suddenly… there were monkeys. Nobody told me about the monkeys. Bloody big and frisky little monkeys. Daring. Cawing. Leaping lizard-like. Jumping onto our DSC02502guide’s shoulder, picking at her baseball cap. Jumping onto the shoulder bag of a woman who promptly screamed.DSC02513

They stared and waited. For scraps of food, for egg shells, fruit, bread, anything really.

DSC02515They nabbed a few treats. Picked through trash for leftovers.

We grabbed hold of our bags, our glasses, our caps, our lives.

They bared teeth. They hissed and stared us down.DSC02469

Blessedly, the sound of a drone, whirring above, so unfamiliar to these creatures, sent them scurrying away. They came together, as if bracing for Armageddon. And then, these furry hellions stopped on a small outcropping, gazed into the sky, as if with shock and awe, and cawed some more.

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