“I saw a hand cover my mouth, a black hand in a white hanky. Then I realized there were two people taking me away.” That’s Marina Chapman’s first memory. Then, everything went black.
When she recovered consciousness, she was deep in the Amazonian rainforest. She stayed there for years, living among monkeys and being raised by them as one of their own until she returned to human civilization. But she knew something for certain: something was separating her from everyone else.
This is the story of a woman named Marina Chapman. That is the name she goes by nowadays. However, she doesn’t know anything about the name she was given at birth, who her parents were, or what happened before the event that changed her life forever.
Marina’s first memory of contact with humans dates back to when she was 10 years old. For the time before that, she had been living among a family of monkeys. And that’s not all.
Even after she managed to get out of the jungle and contact other human beings, her life was a succession of outlandish, thrilling, and dangerous events. It took her years to start living a fairly normal life.
However, it hasn’t been an easy journey. Recently, Marina has published a book titled The Girl With No Name, where she recounts her life story. This is how it happened:
Marina Chapman doesn’t have a clue of where exactly she grew up, who her parents were, or what happened to her before she was 4 years old. Her first memory is that of her kidnapping.
She remembers being grabbed by some strangers and waking up in a truck in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest. Then, the men forced her out of her trunk. She remembers fearing for her life.
But the men didn’t do anything to her. Instead, they just left her there all by herself. Marina remembers thinking, and even hoping, that they would come back; but they never did.
Then she walked around the rainforest for days and days, hoping to find any signs of human activity. But she found nothing. She was in the middle of the world’s deepest, biggest jungle. She remembers screaming and waiting for a response that never came, eating berries, and sleeping in caves and holes in the ground. And then, something happened.
Marina came across a group of capuchin monkeys that was settled in one area of the rainforest. She felt relieved when she saw them. They weren’t human, but at least looked human-like.
She decided to settle in that part of the jungle, where at least she wouldn’t be all alone. Little did she know that the situation was way riskier than she could have imagined.
Capuchins aren’t usually kind to strangers. They could have easily perceived her as a threat or an enemy and rounded up on her, but they didn’t. Marina saw how deep-knitted, trustful and cooperative their community was. She would have liked to be a part of that.
But at first, all the monkeys did was ignore her. She saw them recollecting food together, playing, and grooming each other. Marina was jealous. It took weeks before she finally got her first contact with the family of monkeys.
One day, Marina ate some tamarind and got food poisoning. For the whole day, she could do nothing but lay on the ground. She noticed that the group of monkeys was staring at her. At first, she felt a bit scared.
Suddenly, one of the older monkeys walked toward her. He took her hand and guided her to a lake of muddy waters. Marina, weakened by her illness, could do nothing but comply. Then, the old monkey forced her to drink from the dirty water.
Marina threw up, and she instantly recovered from her illness. The old monkey, to whom she now refers as “Grandpa”, had saved her life! From that moment, she began to be accepted by the rest of the family.
She started hanging out and playing with the younger monkeys. The older ones taught her how to climb trees, reach higher-hanging fruits, and clean herself. And that wasn’t all.
After some time, they also started giving her some portion of the food they recollected and even began grooming her! Shortly, it was like Marina was a rightful member of the family. They treated her like one of them.
They allowed her to sit with them by the trees to eat fruit, and Marina would get nervous every time the group of monkeys stayed away for too long while looking for food. It seemed like she had found her new family.
“They were just tolerating at first. One day one of the younger ones landed on my shoulders, and if you’ve never been hugged in your life, and this animal climbs over your shoulders and puts their hands on your face, I tell you it’s the nicest touch,” Marina recalls.
And after some time, she even started being able to communicate with the family of monkeys, which had its own language of sorts consisting of screams and shrieks. This is how she recounts it:
“Like when they whistle, it’s a food thing. The feeling that there is food somewhere, so we all get ready to follow one monkey. Then there is a ‘Tttttt’ when they are grooming each other. And a warning when they feel in danger.”
As this was the main form of communication Marina used for years, she ended up forgetting all notions of human language she had by the time of her kidnapping. But years later, her luck took a drastic turn.
Marina says she felt happy in the company of monkeys. But still, she felt like she didn’t fully belong there. She knew she was different. She had sometimes seen some hunters wandering around the jungle, but she was scared.
Until one day, she decided to reach out to one group of hunters who had ventured into the area. She went to them, walking on all fours and grunting. They quickly took her with them. Little did Marina know that her misfortunes were far from over.
The hunters didn’t have any intentions of rescuing Marina; instead, they sold her as a dancer for a bar in Cúcuta. Then, she was transferred as a maid for a local mob family.
She managed to escape. After that, she spent years wandering around the streets until a neighbor adopted her and moved with her to Yorkshire, England. Now, Marina could start leading a normal life in a loving household for the first time in many years. But that wasn’t the end of her story.
However, some people doubt that certain parts of her story are true or accurate. “We’re not trying to prove anything,” has said her daughter Vanessa. “We’re just telling our family story, and it doesn’t matter what people think, really.”
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental.