Limu the Smuggling Turtle?

Spring break tends to fall around the same time each year, which is a good thing in terms of booking holidays somewhere lovely, and a bit of a bummer considering my holidays from school always overlap my godson’s birthday. For the second consecutive year, The Electrician and I were out of the country for the little dude’s big day. As a godmother, I felt crappy about it.

The good thing about being on vacation is the plethora of options for birthday presents for small people. You need to understand that my little godson is more rock and roll (and also Angry Birds) than cute little boy stuff. He would probably not dig a Hawaiian shirt like the one we brought home for our nephew. As a five year-old boy, all the very breakable things are off the list. I thought of bringing him home a genuine Hawaiian ukulele, but I value my friendship with his mother too much to make that kind of investment.

We were rather at a loss, until I discovered this pert little fellow. Meet Limu:


That sweet little face belongs to a stuffed sea turtle. Unlike most Hawaiian sea turtles, Limu is blue rather than green, although he permanently wears a lei to remind him of his island heritage. Along with his killer good looks, Limu can be accompanied–should the shopper choose to make the additional purchase–by a hardcover picture book that tells his story. The story itself has kind of an Ugly Duckling, “I’m different so no one loves me” vibe, so it’s a twist on an old classic. Super-cute stuffed toy plus book with excellent moral? English teacher win!

I was pretty pumped when we visited my godson to give him his rather belated birthday gifts, Limu and his picture book among them. It was one of those awesome adult moments when my godson curled up beside me to hear the story, clutching Limu tightly.

Then the wheels fell off. Specifically, while I was on page two, little T was fixated on Limu and not listening at all to the story. As a five year-old with autism, he sometimes reacts differently to situations than most kids might, and I’m accustomed to that, but he was truly distraught about Limu.

“I don’t like this turtle,” he finally stated, holding it out to me so I could see the problem with his reptilian friend. He was picking at a tuft of stuffing poking out from Limu’s side, just back of his front flipper. Upon closer investigation, it seemed Limu had suffered some sort of grievous injury.

Please brace yourself for the carnage: readers with weaker stomachs may want to skip the next photo.


At first, I thought perhaps Limu had opened up at the seam like so many mass-manufactured toys before him. Sadly, it turned Limu had suffered a vivisection that left him with a dramatic slice just under the seam of his shell. This was not a tear. This was certainly not the result of an unfortunate accident. Clearly, since the cut was straight and had clean edges, Limu had been deliberately slashed open.

As the blue Hawaiian sea turtle has few natural predators, particularly in the heavily-populated streets of Honolulu, we were left to assume the only possible scenario for this level of carnage. All we can come up with is that Limu fell into the hands of an overly-zealous airport security worker who felt the need to inspect Limu for controlled substances. Since Limu, as a creature who is not anatomically-correct, lacks any orifices in which to hide such substances, the airport worker must have sliced him open to create a cavity on which to perform the required cavity search.

Does nobody use sniffer dogs any more? Sheesh.

To clarify, I don’t have any desire for controlled substances. Drugs are nowhere on my radar, particularly since I react so poorly to even the stuff prescribed to me. I choose to abstain from drinking alcohol and have done for almost a decade. Heck, I even check my lipgloss to make sure it’s not tested on animals or built in places known for human rights violations. I want nothing to do with the illegal and I do my best to even avoid the questionable.

Apparently, children’s toys have become preferred vehicles for smuggling. Excellent. There I was, with an upset five year-old pulling the insides out of his birthday present. I had to pull a Grinch move and take Limu back to my workshop to “fix him up” while promising to bring him back. First we miss the kid’s birthday two years running: then we bring him a gift that’s been tunneled through by some guy looking for illicit substances.

You will be pleased to know I closed Limu’s wounds nearly invisibly and have returned him to my godson. He has been refusing to read the blue turtle story because, much like watching Batman is so much better when a person’s wearing her Batman jammies, the book just isn’t the same sans reptile. It took nineteen stitches to put Limu back together again, not counting the extra reinforcing I needed to add under his arm flipper pit. Poor fellow.

Apparently, T was very pleased Limu has been returned and it’s all good with the turtle. I still feel pretty rotten that poor Limu, who is friendless through much of his story, suffered such trauma on his way back to Canada. What a cruel world, friends.

copyright 2013:


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