While traveling it is always a good idea to protect your belongings. International hostels offer cubbies for safekeeping, often with available space for using locks, a simple solution to prevent against theft from fellow travelers or general weirdo’s. But while trekking through Africa I discovered a new type of threat, a furry one that likes to jump around and make strange sounds. No it wasn’t the creepy man from the lobby, it was a monkey.
After finishing up some community development work in rural Kenya, my friend Vikkee and I decided that a trip to the coast was much needed. We spent a few days in Mombasa dipping our toes in the turquoise waves, filling up on chapatti and napping on sand so white it seemed to reflect the African sun.
A tip from the hostel owner led us to Stilts Backpaka’s in Diani Beach (Diani Beach Road) a tree-house inspired hotel tucked away in acres of coastal forest brush. We had just made two British friends and decided what better way to enjoy our surroundings than to take a walk on the wild side. One ferry voyage and an hour-long ride with a ganja smoking tuk tuk driver later, the four of us had made it to our destination.
As we climbed the steep staircase to the registration area/lounge/bar we were all feeling excited. To my right, the kitchen was buzzing, whipping up huge pancakes and chips for the hungry, varied mix of vagabonds. To my left, a monkey was lounging on the balcony chewing on some trash. “Oh don’t worry about those, they’re everywhere,” the cook quipped, “just be sure to lock up your food!”
We were then led to a basement so full of lock boxes it looked like a pirate’s wet dream. We secured all of our prized possessions: passports, cash, tickets and chocolate. Feeling safe from the primitive thieves we proceeded to check out our digs. The room was like a wilderness wonderland, complete with an outdoor, adobe-style bathroom and shower that seemed to channel Costa Rica more than Kenya. It’s important to note that the windows were barred and the door was equipped with a padlock, to keep the monkeys at bay we were told.
That night was full of mingling and making new friends at the tree house bar, playing pool and dancing at local bars that may or may not have been teeming with prostitutes, and finally falling into bed early the next morning. As we were checking out the following morning we realized the lock to our room was gone. We dug through all of our belongings and retraced our steps, but neither Vikke nor I could find the mystery padlock. Our British buddies had no idea where the thing had gone and thanks to one too many cocktails, none of us could recall exactly who had unlocked it after our crazy night. Confused and groggy we paid our fees and slipped out of Stilts, thanking the African gods no one had charged us for the missing lock. In the end we figured that whoever used the key had left the padlock dangling on the door, one of the little furry minions must have found a new play toy.
That story held up well until I got an email a few weeks later that our friend found the lock in his luggage while unpacking at home… but I prefer to blame the monkeys.
About: Miranda is a petite traveler with a penchant for all things French. It could have something to do with the five months spent studying on the French Riviera and frolicking around Europe… or maybe just a deep love for Nutella crêpes. After graduating from college in sunny Southern California, Miranda spent the summer camping out in a rural Kenyan village, playing with African babies. Newly relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area she likes to spend her time sweating to death in a Bikram yoga class, hiking to waterfalls or obsessing over her dog Bailey, all while planning her next world adventure. Check her out at mirandaadler.com.