Antipolo, Philippines, c. 1984
The monkey was eating sticks. They didn't look very delicious to me, but hey, if that's what floats the monkey's boat, I say go for it! I'm sure it's a great source of fiber.* The monkey seemed to be enjoying them, in any case. As we watched from the nearby swing, I noticed there weren't a lot of sticks within its reach, and my heart went out to my fellow primate. I wanted to help out, to make sure it was well cared for. But there was an issue. A sign nearby warned us to stay away. I was in a bit of a quandary, as I was a bit wary due to the sign, but also didn't want to risk tossing the stick and potentially hitting the beautiful creature and hurting it.
|Public domain picture from pdpics.com|
Our mission organization was having a retreat, and while the adults were in meetings, we kids were on the playground. They had a bench swing with two benches facing each other, which is where we were seated. The monkey was a few feet away, tied up so it couldn't get far. The leash was attached to a pole at a diagonal between a tree and the ground, to allow the monkey more range of motion.
I continued to ponder how best to help out, and I finally decided it would be kinder to hand the stick to the monkey rather than risk hurting it.** I picked up my stick and carefully moved closer, gingerly extending my stick to the monkey, in what I hoped was a friendly manner.
Then it happened.
The monkey ignored the stick. My face was what really interested it. For a few moments I was paralyzed in shock as the wild beast clawed, scratched, mauled my face!
I don't know how long my shock lasted - probably only a few seconds, though it seemed longer - but as soon as it wore off, I backed up and got away as quickly as I could! I ran across the playground, up the stairs, across the courtyard, and into the lobby of the resort, screaming for my parents. I am told it looked like I had been in a battle.
Thereafter, every time we returned to that resort, the mortified owners apologized yet again, and reminded me again that they had gotten rid of the monkey. I don't know where it went, but it wasn't worth having a pet if it would hurt their valued guests.
So if you ever go to that resort, enjoy their amazing mango slushes. The cashew tree out front is great. The stream out back is beautiful and offers some great opportunities for finding guppies and other small wildlife. They have an awesome pool, where our church did baptisms. They have a sweet playground. The owners are super friendly. But if you ever stop and wonder, "Why don't they have a monkey?" ...
It was me. I'm the reason they no longer have a monkey. It was an attempt at kindness that went very wrong.
Thankfully, I still like monkeys. But I have learned to have a healthy respect for wildlife. I also learned that it's important to heed warning signs. On the plus side, it makes icebreaker games fun.
* Note: As I was 6 at the time, I'm quite certain I was not thinking about the nutritional benefits of sticks.
** In retrospect, a small stick thrown from a few feet away probably wouldn't have hurt it.