June 3, 2010

Finding Curtis

June 1- Landed in Kampala at 4 am. I was so excited that I didn't notice that the oppressive heat has mixed with my airport bathroom version of Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather to create a wet, crotch stank. No matter; the only stank I'd be smelling for the next six weeks is sweet gorilla stank. Wait, will that sound weird when I read it back later?

June 4- After procuring the necessary permits and sherpas (is that right?), we took a bush plane into the national park where we left Curtis ten years ago. He would be twelve years old now, if poachers haven't killed him for his hands to sell as souvenirs. It's so cruel. It would break my heart to think that the baby gorilla I bought on eBay would come all this way just to be killed. I dearly hope we find him.

June 6- We've set up camp which the guides (I was told that "sherpas" is definitely the wrong term) have dubbed "The Cracker Barrel" which I found surprisingly witty for a group of illiterate ex-mercenary jungle guides. Last night, we watched "White Man's Burden" starring John Travolta and Harry Belafonte. They said it was their favourite movie. Mine is still "Mr. Bean's Vacation."

June 8- Mixed day today. Good news: we found Curtis! We were trekking in the jungle for just over two hours when suddenly a big silverback jumped into our path and began beating the ground. We all did what the guides told us to do when confronted by a gorilla which is to pretend to talk on your cellphone. As I had an imaginary conversation with my credit card company, my eyes caught the gorilla's. There was instant recognition. It was Curtis.

The bad news: Turns out Curtis is kind of a dick. When we recognized each other, he knuckled over and extended his hand for a shake, which he quickly withdrew and ran through his hair when I reached out for it. He certainly did not learn that from me. He then drew himself up on his hind legs and began to do some sort of impression of me, holding his hands up to his eyes like glasses and making surprisingly accurate weeping noises. The guides were very happy and joined in.

This pleased Curtis, who then grabbed a banana from one of the guides and began fellating it and pointing at me, still making the weeping noises. Gorilla laughter used to be one of my favourite sounds, but Curtis' had a mocking tone that I did not like. Hurt, I returned to the Cracker Barrel without the guides who told me they preferred to hang out with Curtis.

June 9- Woke up this morning to the sound of screaming laughter. I looked out of my tent to see that the guides had made a makeshift stage in the middle of camp and were re-enacting scenes from "White Man's Burden." And there was Curtis. Although he didn't stick to the script, it looked like he was doing a fair job of abusing the John Travolta character, played by a leaf-stuffed dummy wearing my clothes. Predictably, the scene progressed with the standard slate of mocking impressions and concluded with Curtis making angry love to the dummy's face. The guides applauded wildly. I returned to my tent where I remained for the rest of the day.

June 10- Woke up this morning with Curtis in my tent. He was going through my bags and laughing at my shirts. He was enjoying this immensely until he came upon the stuffed bear that he had played with as a baby. He touched it gingerly and sniffed it. He began to make cooing sounds. I turned on the camera just in time to catch him place it on the ground and shit on it. He then tried to make love to my face. I left that morning.

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