Peru 2003: A close encounter

Thirteen summers ago, around August 2003, I had a truly magical experience that was completely unexpected and spontaneous.

Before my older brother went to university, we planned with our parents one last, no expense spared, family holiday together. After much deliberation we decided on Peru.

Following time spent in Lima, Cusco and the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu, we spent a few days at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, an eco-lodge near Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon rainforest.

On arrival we were briefed about the wildlife in the vicinity, which included parrots, tapirs and caiman. We were told that under no uncertain terms should we interact with anything.

Imagine my surprise when, sitting cross-legged and reading on a bench, a spider monkey appeared nearby and started edging its way closer to me.

IMG_0624Within a few moments it had hopped down from the fence it was on and was sitting in my lap.

With the words ‘you must not interact with the wildlife’ ringing in my head, I was at a loss for what to do. It seemed quite content so, after a while, I started stroking it. I remember that its hair was quite coarse.

Other eco-lodge guests were walking passed us, taking photos. I remember thinking to myself: “I really hope my family come by so that they can take a photo too.” As you can see from the scanned photo, they did.

After a few more minutes, the spider monkey took a wee on my leg and then jumped off. Grinning from ear to ear, I went back to my cabin to have a wash and rave to my family about it.

The day that we left the eco-lodge a spider monkey appeared. I’ll never know if it was the same one, but I’ll always be thankful for experiencing such a wonderful, wild encounter.

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