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I assured him that I had no intention of taunting the monkeys.
"Please," he repeated more quietly. "Do not taunt the monkeys."
In the forest, the sunlight disappeared. And so did all sound, save for the screeching of monkeys and Mr. Ade's constantly whispered admonitions against taunting them. As we walked down the single dirt path, I felt the eyes of a million monkeys on me—the new inmate on parade down Cell Block A at Monkeytraz.
Suddenly, a 30-pound animal came cannonballing out of the trees. We half-circled each other as two wrestlers will at the start of a match. He lunged and I jabbed with the old lady's stick. The simpering simian hobbled away.
Another monkey picked the pocket of a tourist walking ahead of us, then bolted into the woods. The tourist sought out a forest ranger, who sought out the monkey, who was found waving a driver's license and motioning for peanuts.
There weren't more than 20 human targets in the forest, but soon all was a black marketplace of gray monkeys—here bartering for bananas, there making off with a baseball cap, everywhere pawning people's goods for a palmful of peanuts.
And just as I glimpsed the magnificent Monkey Temple, one of its tenants hijacked, humbled and dehumanized the Aussie.
An Australian high school kid began bawling and flailing after a monkey had leaped onto his shoulder. A ranger ordered the boy to stand still. Thirty seconds passed, and the kid looked cautiously at the monkey. After a minute or so, the boy was beaming while his two friends snapped their Instamatics.
It wasn't until the boy began to—yes—taunt the monkey that the animal drew itself to its full three feet in stature and cackled maniacally. The monkey may also have beaten his chest with both fists, though I didn't pause to take notes. For at that very moment, as all activity froze around them, the monkey, standing like a hirsute hood ornament on the Australian's shoulder, loosed a hideous scream.
The monkey then took a long leak on the chump's bare neck, rappelled to the ground and disappeared into the forest, howling and giving monkey high-fives to his howling monkey friends.