In November of 2013, Caroline and her family joined a tourist group on an African Safari tour. Caroline had just turned eighteen and she was looking forward to a new journey.
Caroline had two younger sisters, Daya and Rosetta. Daya was ten years old and Rosetta was going to celebrate her seventh birthday during their trip. Being the oldest had always made Caroline more compassionate and caring.
To Caroline, her sisters were akin to the best gifts God could ever give. So, sharing every moment with her family before leaving to college meant everything to Caroline. This safari was just going to be another great memory to tuck into her diary and keep treasured. Little did Caroline know how epic this journey would turn out to be.
One the first day of the trip, Daya and Rosetta were arguing about who would get the bigger bed in their little cottage in Amboseli National Park. A reserve in Kajiado County, Kenya it is so vast that it spreads across Kenya- Tanzania border and the mountain that stands between the two places is always in view. Sometimes if the sky around the mountain isn’t covered with fog or heavy clouds the tip would come into view. It was beautiful, to begin with; Caroline couldn’t care about the argument between her siblings about the bigger room when she got to see the lovely view from around. Mount Kilimanjaro as it was called and Caroline being the little photographer that she was couldn’t help but snap a few pictures of the scenery around, the set of the mountain with a little ice on the top and the clouds that covered it around.
“I want this room,” Daya yelled making Caroline turn, distracting her from a good shot. The older sister lets out a sigh and turned back to her younger siblings.
“You two do know that we three have to share one room, while mom and dad get the other one. So why are you arguing?” she asked them.
“Care, I want the bigger room because it has a bigger bed,” Daya said.
“But I want the bigger bed, I don’t want to sleep on the small one next to it,” Rosetta said.
Caroline let out a groan, trying to convince her sisters was like pouring water on a duck back. It would just slide off. She was about to tell her two siblings that they both could share the big bed and they didn’t have to always sleep in the same bed as her but her mother walked in at that moment.
“Did you get any good shots?” her mother asked.
“A few, not good enough to fill the portfolio. I did see a few spots as we were walking over that could help,” Caroline said.
“You and you’re that could head there later. We don’t start the tour until tomorrow morning and dinner won’t be served until six, you still have time,” Mama Diana said.
“I would, but these two won’t stop arguing about the bigger room and the bigger bed,” Caroline motioned two her younger siblings who were pouting at each other.
“Daya, you have to sleep on the single bed. You know your little sister can’t sleep on the bed alone, she tends to roll,” mama said.
“Mama, but—“ Daya said pouting.
Caroline zoned out of her sister’s arguments and pleas with her mother and turned back to staring at the beauty they were in the midst off. Being from the city, she never got to see the beauty of nature. Caroline was working towards building a strong portfolio for college photography and maybe she would get lucky and become a photographer for some national geography or wildlife magazine.
Throughout the day she spent taking pictures of different things that interested her, be it a black and green butterfly that settled on an orange flower just outside her cottage, or the little dog that one of the reserve’s staff owned. Caroline felt most at home when she was in the middle of nature. And she was strongly looking forward to starting the tour.
That night after dinner she sat down and decided to look up all the things she had noted down on her little notepad, the things that she wanted to photograph while on this safari. From elephants to lions to the wild buck or be it just the gazelle, she wanted a picture of each of them.
“You girls should go to sleep, it’s getting late and we have to wake up in a few hours, just before the sunrises.” Her dad said. He stood by the door to their room. A man who did everything for his kids, a man who didn’t look a day over thirty-five even though he was nearing fifty. A man she wanted to make proud.
“Okay dada,” Rosetta said jumping onto the bed next to Caroline while Daya lay on the other bed smiling up at her father.
“Good night dada,” Daya said.
“Good night sweethearts,” Dada Greg said. He turned to Caroline who was just placing her laptop down, “you too sweetheart get some rest.”
“Good night dad, I love you,” Caroline said with a wide grin.
“Good night cupcake,” he turned switched off the little light and closed the door behind him. With butterflies in her stomach from the excitement that this trip could bring Caroline closed her eyes.
The next morning the five of them headed for breakfast talking and exchanging excited words about what they could expect from the trip. Caroline held onto Rosetta’s hand as they walked into the restaurant. Just outside the door was a sign that read: “please keep this door closed at all time. We shall not be responsible if the monkey steals your food.”
Laughing at the thought of a monkey stealing their food they head off to the table. Caroline helped her sisters to the breakfast buffet while her parents found a seat. Between the three of them, Daya loved sweet things, so the cupcake was her first grab. Once their plates were filled they joined their parents at the table.
“What cupcake is that?” mama asked.
“Chocolate, I guess,” Daya said.
“Honey you sure you cake eat all that?” dada asked Rosetta who had a little too much on her plate.
“Yes,” the little girl said.
“I told her she could go for seconds, but she wanted one of each,” Caroline said.
“Very well,” mama said.
The family carried on with their small talk all through breakfast, Caroline talking about the pictures she wanted to take, Rosetta being overly excited about seeing lions out in the open and Daya joining in. None of them seemed to notice the door behind them being left open by another tourist.
Within the next few seconds everything happened in a blur, suddenly a monkey sat on their table, grabbed the nearest cupcake and dashed out to the roof on the outside. Right outside the glass window near their table. Daya started crying out of fear while Rosetta sat stunned just like Caroline and her parents.
What had just happened?
Caroline looked up to where the monkey sat, shaking the lovely creamy chocolaty cupcake in front of them as if teasing a crying Daya that, he had indeed just dared to steal her cupcake.
And at the moment, between the commotion of a crying sibling, laughing parents, concerned staff members and a forgotten camera, Caroline knew this was going to be the best trip of her lifetime.
After all who knew the cupcake thief would know how to taunt and tease, two emotions that were so human for a monkey.