Friday, December 31, 2010
A picture tells a short story
After reaching a Lucy village (the local tribe that populates this region), we were approached by a young boy to head back into the highlands so I could see a poppy (what opium is derived from) field. With visions of jungle drug warlords dancing in my head, we hiked a mile or so and discovered a rolling hill festooned with growing poppies. But I needed more! I wanted to meet the WARLORD! The boy laughed and danced up the hill as we followed him to a tiny shack made of thin wood. The boy shouted to the hut, insisting that the WARLORD show himself. A few moments later, the WARLORD appeared. At his side was his wife or concubine. Both appeared to be in their late fifties. Undernourished, their clothes hanging limply from their thin opium-ravaged frames, they posed outside their doorway. A small whiff of smoke licked at their feet from something cooking inside that wafted a pungent, non-edible odor. They were so high they could barely stand. The young boy mockingly poked at them, laughing. The couple did not respond. Finally the weathered and worn man asked the boy something. The boy skipped over to me and asked if I would like to take their picture for a dollar. Money exchanged, I snapped a photo before our hosts toppled back inside their hut and closed their flimsy door. I turned to my companion and we burst out laughing.
"After traveling seven thousand miles, I expected more," I said.
We hiked down the hillside and for another American dollar, the young boy posed with me for this picture.
Hiking back to the Lucy village, the serenity of a one-of-a-kind adventure completed me. It lasted until we arrived at the village for dinner. A dog was being prepared for our communal feast with the locals. For the benefit of future visitors to a Lucy village, when you first arrive and a villager approaches you with a dog and asks if you like it, don't say "yes."