In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Trick Questions.”
A Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter is writing an in-depth piece — about you. What are the three questions you hope she doesn’t ask you?
It was March 19, 2012, and I was in Palayan City in the Philippines when I stopped at the Joross Internet cafe for an interview with a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter.
The reporter wanted to learn of my involvement with two eco-tourist, who disappeared in the rainforest of Aurora Memorial National Park located in the Phillippines.
I explain how I came upon the retired married couple from Grand Island Nebraska suspended in their tree hammocks where they spent the night. They asked for me to search for the ladder someone removed during the evening. I did, and after twenty minutes, I was unable to locate the ladder.
Their hammocks were suspended forty to fifty feet into the air with ropes tied to several trees further up. They suggested, and I agreed to walk back to the trailhead and locate a park ranger to assist in helping to remove the two from their bedroom in the sky. When I last saw the two, they were inside their hammocks. Their tour guide was supposed to return to serve them breakfast, but the woman had not been seen since she left the night before.
I dropped my backpack and hiked the three miles to the trailhead to alert park officials. I met another hiker along the trail. I explained what I was doing, and she agreed to go to the location and stay with the couple.
When I returned with park officials and equipment to help, the couple was gone. Their hammocks were still suspended in the air, and their backpacks were at the base of the tree below. Their personal identification and money were still inside the backpacks.
Park officials soon began to search for the couple from the air and with over two hundred local town residents, military, police, and volunteers on foot searching the 25-acre densely covered rain forest park.
The woman hiker I encountered along the trail was found several miles along the trail and she explained the couple asked for her to continue because they were ok.
The tour guide’s family reported her missing the night before because she never returned home. After searching for four weeks, the entire national park the search for all three was called off.
On Halloween morning all three were found alive by park employees laying in front of the entrance doors of the Hundred Islands National Park headquarters. The park is located 200 kilometers west of their original reported missing location on the Philippine Island. They were emaciated, wearing only tattered, dirty underwear, and all of their body hair was removed. They showed no other signs of physical harm or injury.
They had no memory of where they were before being found or the cause of their disappearance. The couple recalls seeing me returning for help, but they did not recall the hiker who I walked past. The tour guide’s last memory was walking along the trail towards her home.
The circumstances of their disappearance and return have remained a mystery. As I finished the interview, I expected the same three repetitive questions.
Why didn’t I help them down?
What do, I believe happened?
Where do I think they went?
Over the years I have provided the same answer. It is my opinion, the whole ordeal was a disappearing trick and a treat for their return. 🙂