I took the day off work yesterday. Monday was just too much, and I woke up yesterday morning with major anxiety. I was going to go with my business partner friend later that afternoon on a photography adventure, to go shoot the sunset further down the coast, about an hour’s drive away. So I decided to take the entire day off, and spent most of the morning in bed. So tired, and just wanting to hide from the world. I almost cancelled on my friend, but decided to push through. I wish I hadn’t.
When we got to the area that afternoon, we did some location scouting, which involved lots of walking and climbing. Usually I enjoy that, but not this time. My body was just as exhausted as my mind. My friend eventually found the perfect spot (she’s a professional landscape photographer), where she started setting her tripod and camera up. I wanted to wait a while because I saw a baboon come to sit on a rock a little way away from us, and I wanted to keep an eye on him. I told my friend a few times that we should rather leave. From the beginning I wasn’t feeling comfortable. But she wanted the damn shot. By that time there were a few more of those creatures, but they were further away from us and munching on the vegetation or something. She told me that they look peaceful enough so it would be okay.
Well, it wasn’t. The one on the closest rock started coming closer. I had my friends bag of filters around my neck. Before I knew what was happening the baboon leaped towards me, bearing his teeth and grabbed the bag, ripping the strap off. I jumped forward to try to grab it, but he was too fast and ran up one of the cliffs. My friend started shouting and screaming, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk in that moment, let alone shout. She stood at the bottom of the cliff yelling at him to drop it. Well, he did, but all her filters (that cost her thousands) smashed when they hit the bottom. My friend was running around trying to collect the pieces, and then I found my voice, because he was coming down again. I still couldn’t raise my voice much, but managed enough to tell her we needed to get out of there. She told me she first had to collect as many pieces as she could. Suddenly he was down again, lunged toward me, showing his fucking teeth, and I took a big step back or jumped (I don’t remember). He turned away from me and went towards my friend. She had her camera backpack on her back, and I saw he was going after her or it. I reached her and as he grabbed the backpack trying to pull it off her, I tried to hold onto it too, but he was just so fucking strong! He ripped it right off and ran up the cliff again. I just wanted to get out of there. I wanted to run, but I also felt stuck and could only rock back and forth. My feet wouldn’t move. All I could think and say over and over was “we need to leave now, please let’s go”, (I don’t know if I was saying anything out loud or if I was just saying all of this in my head) but my friend was waiting for him to drop the bag as her car keys and wallet were in there.
I don’t remember how it ended, how we got moving, but I remember us walking through mud, rocks and plants and slipping a few times because we weren’t on an actual path. But we got back to the car, with no baboons in sight. I just wanted to go home, but my friend first wanted a drink, and since we were using her car, I didn’t have much of a choice. So we stopped off at some bar, which thankfully was very quiet, only two other people there. I always make sure I have Ativan with me in case I need it, but I had forgotten it! The one day I forget it, is the one day I needed it more than ever before. I had a glass of wine, but I unconsciously downed it way too fast. Added to how I was already feeling, the shock, I was so uncomfortable with my wet jeans, shoes and socks on, but didn’t want to take the shoes and socks off as the floor was filthy and I didn’t have any other pants with me. That on its own is enough to make me lose it, but I got through it. I was so angry with my friend, and I still actually am, but she doesn’t have a clue. I’m mad at myself too.
It was a horrible experience, but at one point (maybe it was the wine) I just started laughing at how fucked up the situation was and told my friend we’d laugh about it in the future. We saw a sign on the wall of the bar “Do not take life too seriously, you will never get out alive”, and we both laughed as if it was the funniest thing in the world. But that quote did bring a certain sense of light comfort at that moment.
I’m glad I got to see my therapist today. I needed to talk to someone who would listen and respond with empathy and compassion, and not like my dad, make me feel even worse about the situation, or my friend, just complaining how unfair it is to be a woman (apparently baboons, especially the alpha males, don’t respect women). I’m aware this sounds irrational, but I feel as if my love of being out in nature has been tainted. I don’t want to go on a hike or even go to the beach, at least for a while. I was already wary being out among the world of people, now I’m also scared of being out in nature.
I’m also really glad that my friend and I got out in one piece and weren’t seriously injured. I wasn’t sure we would. At a certain point I was convinced we were going to be killed. Thankfully, the other baboons just watched and didn’t approach. The crazy thing? She wants to go back for that shot! I told her I’m out. This is the last time I’ll stay in a situation where I’m not comfortable. If I feel uncomfortable, I don’t care if I lose a friend, I will get out of there.
Another thing I’m grateful for is that I had my camera equipment on my back as well, and it remained safe the entire time. It’s strange, but I’m not complaining. In the moment when all this was going on, I didn’t actually care whether he took it though, as long as I made it out alive.
And I did.
I’m glad it’s over. It’s going to take my body and mind a while to really believe it though.