Every morning, whether I’m up early and sitting in front of my laptop, bleary-eyed and trying to form coherent sentences between gulps of coffee, or hiding under the covers trying to catch a few more minutes of blessed sleep, I’m listening with one ear. One moment there is utter silence coming through the monitor from the girls’ room, the next moment there is full-on chatter, often accompanied by laughter. How do they do this? Go from loose-limbed sleep to wide awake exuberance in 0.5 seconds. It’s baffling. That explosion of noise is my alarm clock, pulling me from bed to get the day started.
Our mornings in Kenya started much the same way. Our apartment building didn’t look like much when you drove up; six apartments on three levels with at least one of the garages used as a home for a seventh family. However, walk out onto the back porch and you entered an expansive shared and manicured yard that bled into a wild jungle, at least that’s how it felt for us kids. Towering jacaranda trees, bougainvillea vines, exotic flowers, and thickets of bushes made it a play paradise for us. What solidified the belief that we were, indeed living next to a jungle, regardless of the fact that we were in the middle of a city of one million people, was our group of morning visitors. A troop of monkeys.
Each morning we could hear them coming, shouts of morning enthusiasm heralding their arrival before they finally descended to our yard, the fig tree a perfect snacking spot in their morning tour of the city. For twenty minutes they ate, hooted, and hollered outside our windows and then, at some unknown signal, they swung out, jumping from tree to tree, on to their next destination until they came back around the next morning.