Welcome to Tanjung Putin National Park, Kalimantan. When you spend your time here you will meet a lot of monkeys, big ones, small ones, noisy ones, quiet ones… you name it, we have it all (almost).
Anyway today I like you to meet my family the proboscis monkeys (try saying this 3 times real quick) or “orang balanda” as the locals call us. Orang balanda as in Dutch Human…, just because we do have a long nose, a red face, sticky arms and legs and a “totally slim” belly. I bet if the English were here first we would have been called “orang ingliss” or if we wore socks in sandals it would have come to “orang jerman”. All I want to say is, nicknames are based on coincidences, sometimes not the best ones, but haven’t we all been there?!
Life as a proboscis monkey is really cool, you hang out in trees, have a huge family, always someone to play with, at sunset and sunrise you talk to your extended family living in the other trees and for the rest, you just eat, sleep and enjoy life.
BUT there is one thing: to be a fully grown, respected proboscis monkey, you gotta cross the river on your own and I don’t mean by swimming (there are crocodiles in there, don’t let this idyllic riverbed fool you).
Actually there comes a time when your mother doesn’t want to be your personal taxi cab anymore and just dumps you on a branch (so hang on to your mums as long as you can, I mean: literally!!!!) and that’s it, you gotta walk by yourself… and as we call it: jump the river.
So on my special day (this will be decided by the family) I took all my courage together, I found a neat spot with a branch hanging slightly over the water to make it easier for me (no that’s not considered cheating!). All my family gathered around. Don’t get fooled by their faces, they are just being polite by pretending not to notice what’s happening around them… (I still don’t get whether they support you or just wait for a good story).
I took a deep breath… and another… and another…well probably many more – I can’t remember – and I decided not to do it! There is enough food on this side of the river, and if my family crosses over, well I’ll stay here and go to extended family, there is always someone around and… what the heck!
Then I heard something coming up the river, music, it was music, on a boat, this song… “I believe I can fly…. I believe I can touch the sky…!” I don’t exactly know what happened then, but somehow this song got hold of my body and made me take a deep breath… and another… and another… and I started singing along and running, jumping up the branches, running along the one that hung over part of the river… I jumped, still singing….
I believe I can FLYYYYYYYYYYYYYY……. aaaaaaaaaaaa!