Monday, March 10, 2008

Dian Fossey: The Lost Chapter

Funny how you can have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do anything outdoorsy and then your family goes to Africa to see large, endangered animals and you still have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do anything outdoorsy.

However, I have learned a few things and I didn't even have to break a sweat.

I've learned that, no matter what shade of LL Bean blouse you wear, you must always follow the Official Gorilla Trekking Guidebook while in the mist.

The official guidelines for observing gorillas include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Maintain a distance of at least 15 feet from the gorillas.

2. Do not make direct eye contact or attempt to take pictures while gorilla is looking at you.

3. If you need to, um, relieve yourself, ask a guide to dig a hole for you with his Panga Machete. (I'm not making this stuff up, people.) After you have finished, be sure to fill the hole.

My in-laws were following all (or most) of the rules, keeping their voices down, moving slowly, as they observed a family of gorillas. My father-in-law saw a silverback and decided to add to his collection of wildlife photos. He sat quietly and took this picture.

*Photo copyrighted, provided courtesy of a very brave tourist in the mist

Just as he snapped the photo, the guide said, "He is going to charge."

My father-in-law, instead of assuming a submissive stance, just sat there, frozen. (Which, to his credit, is like the bravest thing ever because I totally would have cried like a baby.)

The silverback charged and turned in another direction just before reaching my father-in-law.

Please, rest easy.

No gorilla or tourist were harmed in the making of this photo. Most importantly, no LL Bean khaki cargo pants were soiled, torn or otherwise harmed in the making of this photo, thereby avoiding any need to follow Number 3 of the Official Gorilla Trekking Guidebook.

Let's face it. Sometimes you don't have time to ask your guide to dig a hole for you with his Panga.


Kelly @ Love Well said...

HA! The last line got me.


Margot said...

That was a great story. I found your blog through From Melissa's Desk. I will definately have to come back and read more.

Roxanne said...


But what a GREAT shot. Oh. My.

Linda said...

God bless your relatives, for they provide some of the best material. You cracked me up at the 1st sentence. Re guidelines: 1: Why would anyone want to get closer than 15 feet? I would want at least 51 feet of distance. 2: Why did your FIL not see that this big was not doing a super model pout--he truly did not want to be captured digitally, either. 3: "Panga" sounds like a cutsie name for the body part that is responsible for the relieving. And why does one need to bury his pee? Because if you don't, they might charge? Is it possible that no matter what you do or don't do, they might charge?!