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Travel NIghtmare: Monkey Business


This summer, we're collecting your travel nightmares, tales of vacations gone bad, adventures gone off the tracks. Today, we hear from Susan Ford Hoffert. She's a birder from Wausau, Wis. Back in April, she went on a safari in South Africa. Great trip till the day when she set off from her lodge by herself to check out the birds and the monkeys.

SUSAN FORD HOFFERT: I grabbed my binoculars and my camera and I put on some flip flops, and I just started wandering around the lodge grounds. Every bird I saw, of course, was going to be a lifer, so this was pretty exciting. And, yeah, I saw the monkeys. They were kind of hanging out. I pretty much ignored them. We had been told to kind of stay away from them.


HOFFERT: The monkeys, they are kind of gray and white. They have these little black faces framed by these white fur around them. And they have very long tails, and it seems like they have very, very long arms and legs. I did see a bunch of them sitting in a garbage bin and kind of jumping in and out, and it was cute. And I have to admit, I wanted to take a picture of it, so I did.


HOFFERT: And I turned around 'cause I was really more interested in the birds. But as I turned, I felt this slash, this pain in my leg down by my calf. And I was like, ouch. And I looked down, and there are a pair of angry orange eyes looking back at me, and it was one of these monkeys. And she just looked at me and hissed. And I thought, well, what the heck? And I kind of looked at her and I said knock it off, and I walked away.

But before I could get even a step away, I felt another slash on my other leg. And there was another monkey and it was hissing at me. And I kind of looked around and suddenly there are four or five monkeys and they are surrounding me, and they are not happy. They are hissing. They are reaching forward with those long arms and fingers and they've got these long nails on them. Some of them were trying to bite me. I am starting to get scared.


HOFFERT: I can't run 'cause I have on those flip flops, remember. And I'm thinking, what am I going to do? What am I going to do? So I straighten myself up, put my arms way above my head and just looked at that leader monkey and just said in a dark, deep voice, you get away from me.


HOFFERT: And I lunged at her. And then I spun, and I did a Bruce Lee imitation and kicked out and lunged at the next monkey and said knock it off. And I did this three or four times to all the monkeys, and they stopped. And before you knew it, they were actually running away.


HOFFERT: So I'll tell you something. For the rest of my stay there, I saw no monkey faces, only monkey butts hightailing it away from me. Oh, yeah. Word got out. You don't mess with the crazy birder.


SIMON: A travel nightmare from Susan Ford Hoffert of Wausau, Wis. We'd like to hear your stories. Go to weekendeditionsaturday@npr.org. Click on contact and put travel nightmare at the top of your message. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.