The air was so humid and thick I reckoned that I could cut chunks out of it. Under foot the ground was deep with leaf litter, and a bit squidgy, due to the almost constant rainfall, and I was totally lost. My old, but reliable compass was smashed in a fall that very nearly broke my leg. One of a group of twenty, we were exploring an as yet uncharted part of a jungle, on an unnamed island in the Paciﬁc.
I was doing well until I lost my footing and skidded down a steep gully It was a long and terrifying drop. The vegetation was too wet and slippery to get a good hold on, and I was falling too fast. As I plummeted headlong down, crashing into vegetation and bouncing of off rocks, my shouts of “Oh Bother” or some such expletive, rousing ﬂocks of brightly coloured birds. Waterfalls drenched me on the way down.
The waterfalls gave me a faint hope that I might land in a pool rather than on hard terrain. I was half right, as I bounced through the stunted shrubs that were clinging onto the outcrop, disturbing a horde of insects, who managed to get in a few bites, before I was gratefully, if rather forcefully, submerged in the clean, cooling water.
I surfaced, and blowing like a whale I scrambled out, catching my breath, and making sure that nothing more than my compass was broken, I took stock of the situation,. I was still lost, just lower down. And the jungle at this level was even thicker. So I couldn’t get a bearing from the sun, the vegetation was so thick it had given up trying to penetrate it.
I would have tossed a coin as to which way to head off, if I had a coin. There wasn’t much call for money in the jungle. So thinking a straight line was as good as any, I put my best foot forward, and sank up to my knees in a large pile of soft stinking leaves and mud. Somebody’s bed I imagine. Luckily they were not at home.
Extracting myself by means of the long hanging rope -like vines, I gained what passed as tera ﬁrma. Luckily I still had my machete fastened to my belt. Little did I know how useful that was going to be. In the distance I could hear the unearthly noise of monkeys howling. So at least there was life in this dark green and brown world.
It got darker, I assumed night was falling. not that it made that much difference, I still ploughed on, knowing that my chances of ﬁnding my way out depended on keeping moving. Once, grabbing hold of what I thought was an extra long, thick, vine it turned and expressed it displeasure by dropping us both to the ground and trying to wrap me up like a sausage roll. That was one mean python.
After that I was a little more careful what I got hold of. The leeches were a bit of a problem too. They got everywhere. But, by walking for what seemed hours, I ﬁnally saw light ﬁltering through the trees. and I could hear the far distant sound of surf crashing onto a shore. Never had a sound been so welcome, with renewed energy I hacked my way forward. The torpid jungle thinned out, the morning air was fresh and sweet. Almost swooning with relief I hurled myself onto the sand, scrubbing at the leeches before diving headﬁrst into the blessed waves as they broke on the shore.
Palm trees fringed the jungle edge, hung with coconuts, only then did I realize how dehydrated I was, but how to get them down? I need not have worried because, like the python, the monkeys who inhabited the trees showed their displeasure at an intruder by hurling the hard fruit at me, most of them missed but some hit rocks and smashed open. I managed to secure one before I was over run by a pack of young monkeys, who had learned that this was the way to open the nuts, they did not have a machete, and objected to losing them to a stranger.
After some months of living off of the jungle, which did not faze me one bit, or so I told myself, because there was plenty of fruit and nuts, eventually I was rescued by a passing ship, that had been alerted as to my disappearance, and when I landed back in England I wrote a book about being LOST IN THE JUNGLE; and made a nice little packet too. I had planed to go back to the island, on purpose this time, but, on doing some research I found, to my dismay that my story had backfired on me. I had made the long palm fringed beach of my rescue, sound so beautiful, that it was now one of THE places to go for a holiday. I wonder what the monkeys and my friend the python thought of that.