Friday, December 7, 2012

Doctor Doolittle and The Bridge of the Apes

“Queen Ermintrude had never in her life seen her husband so terrible as he got that night. He gnashed his teeth with rage. He called everybody a fool. He threw his toothbrush at the palace cat…”  -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes
Brian Hartenstein trekking in Borneo off the islands of Manukan.
“He rushed round in his nightshirt and woke up all his army and sent them into the jungle to catch the Doctor…”    -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes

Hired a small fishing boat to one of the remote islands, jumped off in the surf and made my way ashore.
“But they were always glad when the night came and they stopped for their resting–time. Then the Doctor used to make a little fire of sticks; and after they had had their supper, they would sit round it in a ring, listening to Polynesia singing songs about the sea, or to Chee–Chee telling stories of the jungle…”  -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes

The jungle was dense and full of sounds.
“And Chee–Chee spoke of many things his grandmother had told him—tales of long, long, long ago, before Noah and the Flood—of the days when men dressed in bear–skins and lived in holes in the rock and ate their mutton raw, because they did not know what cooking was—having never seen a fire… And he told them of the Great Mammoths and Lizards, as long as a train, that wandered over the mountains in those times, nibbling from the tree–tops.”   -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes
Creepy monitor lizards, native to these islands, were everywhere in the jungle, slithering up trees and waddling around.  They were long as my entire body.  I wish I could talk to them.
“Then he made all his servants go too—his cooks and his gardeners and his barber and Prince Bumpo's tutor—even the Queen, who was tired from dancing in a pair of tight shoes, was packed off to help the soldiers in their search…”  -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes

It's easy to get lost in the jungle.
“They used to make their lemonade out of the juice of wild oranges, sweetened with honey which they got from the bees' nests in hollow trees…”   -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes

But I followed the trail and had the islands to myself.
“They always had plenty to eat and drink; because Chee–Chee and Polynesia knew all the different kinds of fruits and vegetables that grow in the jungle… like dates and figs and ground–nuts and ginger and yams…”  -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes

Except for the animals and the thorns and the vines that seemed to reach out and snare me.
“And many of the tales that Chee–Chee told were very interesting. Because although the monkeys had no history–books of their own before Doctor Dolittle came to write them for them, they remember everything that happens by telling stories to their children…”  -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes

Oh, and did I mention these long lizards.  Yikes.  They looked very hungry.
“But before they could get into the Land of the Monkeys, they came to a steep cliff with a river flowing below. This was the end of the Kingdom of Jolliginki; and the Land of the Monkeys was on the other side—across the river.
And Jip, the dog, looked down over the edge of the steep, steep cliff and said,
"Golly! How are we ever going to get across?"  -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes

While trekking, I brought a little Doctor Doolittle with me... not sure why, but suddenly the good doctor came to mind.
“Many great explorers and gray–bearded naturalists have lain long weeks hidden in the jungle waiting to see the monkeys do that trick. But we never let a white man get a glimpse of it before. You are the first to see the famous 'Bridge of Apes.'" And the Doctor felt very pleased…”  -Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle Bridge of the Apes

I felt pleased too.

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