Traveler Spotlight: Kelsey Johnson / “I can’t believe this happened to me in the jungle…”

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KELSEY:

One of my favorite things about my trip to Sumatra as a whole was discovering how much the locals and I had in common as far as music tastes. I was so surprised the first night when we walked into the bar and they were playing “Welcome to the Jungle.” I had my ukulele and quickly befriended the “musicians” of the village and would often sneak off to have little jam sessions. One night Katy and I were at one of the tiny restaurants after hours. One of the guys was playing guitar while I sang “Lighting Crashes” by Live. Suddenly it started raining this incredible downpour and the power went out; the only light was from the tiny red ends of lit cigarettes. We kept on singing and right as we got to the “lightning crashes” chorus part this huge zap of lightning hit down. The whole room was lit up and everyone was smiling. I had been debating staying back from the jungle hike but one of the guys told us “well now you gotta go- Mother Nature she’s calling you!”

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We didn’t catch the power outage on camera, but it led to more jam sessions with the locals

What happened in the jungle was even more amazing. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am not the most athletic person and the trek was definitely turning out to be a bit of a challenge, complete with mud and bugs. We’d crossed our fingers that the jungle had gotten all of the rain out of its system in last night’s storm but the sudden rumbling of deep thunder told us we were wrong. The rain came quickly as ever. Everyone else put on their ponchos but I was overheated and welcomed the lukewarm water on my skin. I remembered, though, that my ukulele was exposed and I needed to cover it. Our second guide stayed back with me while Obi and the others continued ahead. I put my yellow poncho on over myself and my backpack and realized that this actually felt better. “I feel so warm and fuzzy!” I thought to myself, a bit delerious from the day’s rough terrain workout. But I realized something was off– I literally felt warm and fuzzy.

 

I looked down and saw in my hand… another hand. The hand was orange and hairy. This hand belonged to an orangutan! She held her baby in her other arm and I realized that her protective instincts could be triggered easily. I stayed calm and kept walking forward, the three of us hand in hand but it didn’t last for much longer as Champion had come back to check on me and screamed “monkey!” The orangutan let go of my hand and everything slid into chaos. Our guide quickly pulled out a long stick of bamboo which he tried to bait her with, but she took our backpack full of supplies and food instead. He screamed for us to run and I ran up this muddy, steep mountain faster than I’ve ever gone in my life. You would have thought a velociraptor was chasing after me.

 

At the top of the mountain, Obi, Danny, Arielle, and Katy were waiting for us. I told them all what had happened and they told me to sit down– thinking that I was literally out of my mind with exhaust! Our guide came up shortly after, with the backpack safely in tow, and he explained that everything that we told them was true. I know that Obi Wan has experienced a lot of crazy things on these treks but the look on his face told me he was truly shocked. I still laugh when I think back at this wondering exactly how long had we been walking like that. I realize how lucky I am that nothing worse happened. I know one thing: that 24 hours is something I will never forget!

3 thoughts on “Traveler Spotlight: Kelsey Johnson / “I can’t believe this happened to me in the jungle…”

  1. Oh my goodness, wow. That is the most incredible thing!! I had no idea a wild orangutan would ever just come up and take someone’s hand! What do you think she wanted?

    1. Honestly it is so strange.. I’ve always had a strange connection with animals. When I was ten I went to sea world where you could lean over and pet the dolphins. I started singing a song I made up about how I loved them and five or six came right over to me. The trainer asked me what I was doing! I’ve had a few strange experiences like this. I’m either related to Dr. Doolittle or I must smell like a snack!

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