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Going Tribal with the Mentawai of Indonesia

Spear, machete, bow and a quiver of poison tipped arrows at my feet. Wearing a loincloth I made from the bark of a tree.

I spent the last 10 days in the jungles of Siberut Island in Indonesia, living with an indigenous tribe known as the Mentawai. I helped make poison tipped arrows, made a loincloth from tree bark, trekked for hours at a time, balancing on narrow logs through muddy swamps to gather and prepare jungle food such as, Sago Palm starch, Sago grubs, river shrimp, small bony fish, the fruit of the chocolate tree (cacao), and of course, coconuts. In return I taught a few of them how to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together.

The Mentawai people live in traditional longhouses which are built on stilts, occupied by one family and are usually miles apart. Most of their food comes from the starchy trunk of the Sago Palm which they also use as feed for the chickens and wild pigs. At least once a day, the man of the house will split a Sago trunk, toss the logs down into the mud and then call the hogs in from the jungle. Let me tell you, for sure, there is no scarier sound than wild pigs mating; especially when you are on a night walk trying to dig a hole for a toilet. High pitched screaming combined the most demonic growling I've ever heard (followed by a stampede in my direction???); they sound like monsters.

The child with the dog on the edge of the electric town

On The Perfect Koala

The child with the dog on the edge of the electric town

If I were a painter

could my picture be crazier than our life?

And for even I’m not a poet

can I make your deeds shine by words

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