Baboon hitches a ride; A Memorable TripBy...


Baboon hitches a ride; A Memorable Trip

By Melanie Pefinis, Special to the Sun

Visions of wildlife and expansive sky rolled before me as I headed along the famed Garden Route on the South African coast.

While on location, filming a documentary series throughout the region, my colleagues and I absorbed the rich landscape and natural surroundings. I was especially struck by the presence of monkeys in public -- almost as common as squirrels here in the States.

As we drove, windows down, we spotted a group of baby baboons, the size of my hand, playing in the road ahead. As we watched (first mistake), I reached behind me to grab a camera (second mistake). Suddenly, my co-worker Jason spoke very softly: "Melanie. Do not sit back. Do not move." Frozen, I could see with my peripheral vision a foaming-mouthed male baboon climbing through the open window onto the van seat behind me. He had easily jumped from the ground to the passenger window and was propped on the back-seat cushion. His yellow fangs were definitely not a smile of welcome.

We all held our breath.

Jason, seated in the back with the film equipment, carefully picked up our boom microphone complete with windsock. These large mikes use a fuzzy, hairy, gray cover for wind protection. It was doing a pretty good imitation of some odd member of the animal kingdom. Jason thrust the mike at the perplexed baboon and he ran for his life.

Not a word was spoken as we drove away. We sat in stunned silence until the lingering scent of our former visitor broke us into laughter. Of course I have no photo of this exact moment ... but fond memories of the beauty of South Africa.

Melanie Pefinis lives in Baltimore.

The range rises at dawn; My Best Shot

By Dave Urbanek, Cockeysville

I spent this past summer in Grand Teton National Park, just north of Jackson, Wyo. I saw many amazing sunsets and sunrises, but none quite as spectacular as this one in August. Skillet Glacier can be seen on the left side of Mount Moran -- part of the Teton Range rising out of Jackson Lake.



Bonnie Scott, Ellicott City

"Recently my family and I took a trip to Boston. We spent a week and a half in two different hotels, and saw a lot of sights. The whole trip was rainy, but I still had lots of fun at museums. Once back home, my only advice would be: Don't let rain discourage you from visiting all the neat museums and sights."


Judy Volkman, Baltimore

"Disney World is always magical, but even more so at Christmas. Eight people with disabilities and two staff visited all the parks in five days. Of course, the new Animal Kingdom was high on the list to visit. But the favorite attraction was the show 'Fantasmic.' "


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Pub Date: 01/24/99

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