Some toys think their life is over when their kid grows up. For me, it was just the beginning of new adventures.

Now that my little girl is an adult, she is an aunt. She has a niece and a nephew, who are both great kids. I live with my mama in her grown-up house, but I get to visit her niece and nephew to play with them AND their plush toys! I have so many wonderful friends and family. It’s good to be a Greenie! But as it turns out, Greenies aren’t the only plushies going on adventures….

Let me tell you about my new friend, George, and his BIG adventure. He nearly created an international incident, an admirable accomplishment for one so young. Mama’s niece is a little girl whose constant companion is a plushie named ‘Monkey George’. He’s a curious monkey who gets into mischief.

George went on vacation with his little girl and her family. They went on a gigantic cruise ship! This is no rowboat, mind you. It’s a ship is so big that hundreds of people can ride on it for multiple days. Everyone has a room to sleep in, like a hotel. This cruise ship had on-board restaurants, a pool, a water slide, a dance club, an arcade, a playground, and other fun things to do. I thought it was amazing that George got to go on a cruise. I’ve never done that! I guess you could say I was ‘green’ with envy. A-ha! There’s some turtle humor for you.

Well, it turns out that George wasn’t so excited about being on a big ship out in the even bigger ocean. I think George is what pirates call a ‘landlubber’ because he jumped ship almost as soon as it docked in Mexico! It was a big fiasco! I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news. It was a few days into the cruise, and the family was having a good time. Everyone except George. When the ship made port in Mexico. The family disembarked to go ashore for the day and enjoy the lovely seaside village and local culture before returning to the ship at night.

George and his little girl rode down the gangplank and dock in their stroller. The family was looking forward to having a delicious lunch and then going sightseeing. But George didn’t do any of that with them because he snuck out of the stroller and into some bushes the first chance he got. As soon as they were out of earshot, he bounded off to do some sightseeing on his own.

George had been cooped up on the ship for days. While at sea, he was afraid to venture away from his family because the ocean was so big and scary. Most of the time he stayed in the room or clung to his little girl. Now that he was ashore, he could stretch his arms and legs. He spotted the nearest palm tree and clambered all the way up to the top. He could see the whole town square below. He observed tropical plants and flowers in one direction. He noticed shops, restaurants, and a band playing music in another direction. The weather was sunny and warm all around. George liked Mexico; it seemed like a nice place for a little monkey to vacation. He could get used to this.

When he looked behind, George could see the big cruise ship at the end of the dock. “Yuck,” George thought, he didn’t like the cruise ship. Suddenly, George was distracted by a delicious and familiar aroma. It was his favorite food, bananas! He looked toward the ground and saw a sprawling restaurant patio below. There were tables and chairs where people were enjoying lunch. He spotted the source of the yummy scent. It was a yellow, frozen drink in a pretty glass. It sat enticingly on a wooden table near the base of George’s tree. There was even a tiny pink paper umbrella sticking out of the top of the drink, making it seem very fancy. George wanted a fancy frozen banana drink with a little pink umbrella. He shimmied partway down the palm tree, then hopped to another nearby tree to get closer. He saw waiters wearing vests, taking orders from diners, and carrying trays of food. George wanted to place his order for a fancy frozen banana drink with a pink umbrella. He attempted to wave down a waiter with one hand as he held on to the tree trunk with his other limbs. The waiters rushed to and fro but didn’t see George. One carried a heavy tray and George tried to get his attention. The waiter hurried to deliver the food but didn’t see George. George spied another waiter and wanted to get her attention, but she faced the other direction and didn’t see him. After several tries, George’s arm grew tired from all the waving and he was starting to feel grumpy again.

Frowning, George looked around hoping to find some help. No one was paying attention to him. He kept looking around the town square and soon he saw something important beyond the restaurant patio. It was a banana…within a bunch of bananas…on a table piled high with many bunches of bananas as well as other fruit! It was a fruit stand, and there were plenty of bananas today. For George, dozens of banana bunches were a much better snack than one fancy frozen banana drink, little pink umbrella or not!

George left his grumpiness behind as he swung gleefully from tree to tree toward the fruit stand. He settled in a low branch of a flowering dogwood tree within reach of all those scrumptious yellow bananas. George reached down and casually grabbed a perfectly ripened bunch off the top of the pile. He pulled the biggest, yellowest banana from his bunch, peeled it, and took a bite of the most delicious banana he ever tasted. Yum!

As an expert on money and a bona fide business turtle, I want to note that George did not pay the fruit vendor for the bananas he took. George didn’t know much about money and didn’t realize that he was stealing. I have since sat George down to explain a few things about commerce. I’m still not sure that he gets it, but at least he knows not to steal things…I think.

Anyway, George was finally starting to feel like he was on vacation as he lounged in the tree and gobbled his third or fourth banana. That was when the fruit vendor took notice of the pilfered bananas. Then he saw George in the tree with a half-eaten banana gripped in each hand one foot.

“Hey you!” the vendor shouted. George was startled by the fruit vendor’s shout and dropped the rest of his bananas. They plopped on the ground in succession and George nearly tumbled out of the dogwood tree.

“You have to pay for those bananas!” the vendor told him sternly. Uh oh, George didn’t have any money. He didn’t even have a wallet, a pocket to put a wallet in, and he wasn’t even wearing pants to have a pocket to begin with! George didn’t know what to do. The fruit vendor seemed upset and was coming toward him. George made a run for it. He zipped down the tree trunk and zigzag scurried back toward the dock where he last saw his family.

As George neared the dock, he looked over his shoulder and saw that the fruit vendor was still chasing him and yelling, “Come back here, thief! Pay for those bananas!” George ran even faster. When he reached the dock, he hid in the same bushes he had earlier that day after escaping the stroller. From the cover of the shrubbery, he looked for the stroller, but it wasn’t there. He searched and searched but didn’t see his family anywhere. Luckily, he didn’t see the angry fruit vendor anymore either.

George trembled in the shrubs and wondered where his little girl was. He had never been away from her for very long. Also, he wanted to go home and forget how he accidentally embarked on a life of crime while on vacation. He couldn’t believe that he was a wanted monkey in Mexico. He was just looking for a snack and now he was a hardened criminal. He took a long last look at the town square because now he could never set foot in Mexico again or else he might get thrown in jail for fruit pilfery! George had heard from Zippy Zebra that the jails in Mexico have terrible room service. George wasn’t sure what that meant but knew he didn’t want to find out, so he slowly marched back down the dock, crestfallen, toward the cruise ship. “Yuck,” he thought. He didn’t like the cruise ship.

It took George a while to walk down the length of the dock because it was long, and he had very tired little legs. Earlier that day when he rode down the dock in his little girl’s stroller, traversing the dock seemed easy. At least the long trek gave him time to think. By the time George reached the end, he had a plan. He decided that he would sit in the shade at the rear, or stern, of the enormous cruise ship and wait for his family. Once they came back to board the ship, he would hop back into the stroller like nothing ever happened. Hopefully, his brilliant plot would help him avoid trouble. Being chased by a loud, angry fruit vendor was enough for one day!

George waited for a long time, but his family didn’t come. The shadow of the enormous cruise ship grew longer, making George feel very small, but his family didn’t come. The sun was starting to go down and the orange, purple, pink, and blue sunset colors in the sky were very beautiful, but his family wasn’t there to see it with him. Finally, the ship’s big loud horn blew and the crew began to make the ship ready to sail away from Mexico. The sudden, sonorous sound of the horn was so deafening that it terrified George and rattled his brain. Not only was it a resounding surprise, but George also knew it meant the ship would be leaving soon. With his little heart racing and mind reeling, George did the only thing he could and scampered up the gangplank, boarding at the stern of the cruise ship.

Meanwhile, George’s family enjoyed the sights and sounds of Mexico all day, unaware that George wasn’t with them. After a long and delightful day, they boarded the gangplank at the front of the ship. After they moseyed up the gangplank and folded up the stroller, they realized that George was missing!

The family looked all over for George. They looked in the folded seat of the stroller, but he wasn’t there. They looked in their shopping bags, but no sign of George. They checked Mom’s purse and Brother’s backpack, but he wasn’t there. They went back to their room on board the cruise ship. No George. They checked the dining area to see if George went for a snack, not there. They checked the lido deck to see if he was lounging by the pool. No George. They even posted a message to everyone on the ship with a picture of George in case someone saw him monkeying around. No one had. George’s family was worried that he got lost in Mexico. They couldn’t go back to the town square to look for him because the ship had tooted its big horn and was already sailing away from the dock.

As George’s family anxiously searched, little did they know that he was near the stern of the cruise ship, waiting forlornly in a dim hallway. He watched out the porthole near the door where he entered the ship as it pulled away from the dock. He wondered if his family was still in Mexico. His heart sank even lower as he regretted ever leaving the stroller in the first place. It was quite dark, and George didn’t know what to do about finding his family or the hungry rumble in his stomach. He didn’t know his way around the big scary ship without them. He wrung his hands and tried not to cry until a member of the ship’s crew came along. He saw George sitting, slumped against a wall in the darkened hall and said, “Hey little guy, you don’t belong here. You must be lost. I’ll take you to the ship’s ‘Lost and Found’. I bet someone is missing you and will come looking soon.”

George didn’t know what a ‘Lost and Found’ was, but it sounded as though it was his only option. The crewman picked George up and carried him through a series of doors to a small room with lots of shelves. The crewman stowed him on a high shelf among an interesting assortment of items, then left, locking the door behind. George appreciated being on a high shelf because he could see the whole room from there. He saw sunglasses, umbrellas, beach towels, and beach bags. On another shelf was a small bin containing sets of keys, then a single flip-flop on a bottom shelf. The one thing George wanted to see was his family, but they weren’t there. George spent the night in the ‘Lost and Found’ room, and it was the longest night of his little monkey life.

In the morning, George’s family sat morosely at the breakfast table and hardly ate. Then, Dad had an idea at breakfast! As a coffee-loving turtle, I think his morning cup of ‘Joe’ sparked his memory. That’s why coffee is number one in my book!

Dad remembered that the family disembarked from the back of the ship the previous day. Everyone around the breakfast table perked up and agreed that was where they last saw George before going ashore. Then, at the end of their day in Mexico, they boarded the cruise ship at a different door. They entered near the front, or the bow, of the ship. Dad said, “Hey, maybe something happened, and George is still at the stern! I’ll go check.”

After chugging the last few sips of his coffee, Dad raced to the back of the ship while the rest of the family finished breakfast. Once there, he asked a crewmember if he saw a little monkey the previous day. The crew member thought for a minute and then his face lit up.

“Yes!” He said, “I escorted a small monkey to the ‘Lost and Found’ last night. He’s still there!” Dad couldn’t wait to get George back to his little girl.

A little earlier that morning, George woke up feeling as if he hadn’t slept at all. He was sitting on the shelf in the ‘Lost and Found’ room slumped against the wall, feeling very sorry for himself. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he heard the door open. George straightened up to see who was coming into the ‘Lost and Found’. Would it be more lost items to fill the shelves, or maybe his family would be there to find him? The latch turned, the door slowly opened, and the crewman from last night stepped in the door. He quickly scanned the room and immediately locked eyes on George and said, “There he is,” and pointed in George’s direction.

Next Dad stepped into the room. George jumped for joy! In fact, he leapt from the shelf straight into Dad’s arms, almost toppling him over, and gave him his fiercest King Kong hug. He knew Dad would take him to his little girl. Dad thanked the crewman, shook his hand, and took George out of the ‘Lost and Found’ room because George wasn’t lost any more. Dad found him! As they walked briskly through the halls inside the cruise ship, Dad looked at George and said, “I wonder what monkey business you’ve been up to. You had us all worried, George. I’m glad to see you, and I know one person who will be the happiest of all...”

Then they walked into the dining area where the family was waiting. Dad held George up over his head for everyone to see. George felt like the Lion King being held high at Pride Rock. “George!” his little girl cried, with arms outstretched. The whole family was glad to see him safe and sound. Everyone hugged George and gave him breakfast. It was wonderful!

The family enjoyed the ship’s playground for the rest of the morning and George held on tight to his little girl as they laughed and played. At lunchtime, George told his little girl about his adventure in Mexico. He told her how he slipped away from the stroller, climbed the palm tree, detected the fancy frozen banana drink that he never got to taste, ate bananas at the fruit stand, and got into trouble for stealing even though he didn’t mean to. His little girl listened raptly and couldn’t believe what a wild adventure George had.

After he finished, George’s little girl proclaimed, “Speaking of bananas, George, you’re bananas for wandering away from us!” George laughed sheepishly at her joke.
“I can’t believe you left your family. Anything could have happened! You could have gone to jail in Mexico for stealing. Jail is very dangerous for little monkeys. And I wouldn’t have known where you were and couldn’t come and save you!” George thought about this for a long time while he hugged his little girl tightly. His brash actions almost changed his life forever! It could have been terrible.

After a long think, George told his little girl, “I’m sorry I made you worry, and I learned my lesson. From now on, I won’t wander off without you or my family, especially when we’re traveling!”

“I’m so happy to hear that, George. You know what? I also heard the cruise kitchen is serving banana splits for dessert today. Since you wanted bananas so badly, let’s go get one.” George and his little girl ate a banana split together and it was the best part of his vacation.

I’m glad my friend, Monkey George, is all right. Like I said, I almost didn’t believe this story when I heard it. Then I remembered that I had to learn a similar lesson a long time ago when I was a young turtle. It’s funny how history repeats itself. Maybe I need to make sure my pal, George, reads my blogs so he can learn important lessons from my adventures.