“To the world you are a cell.
To your cells you are the world.”
'Over here,' said Bobby. 'Tiger tracks.'
'Really,' said Tane, running down to where Bobby is on the river bank.
'See here, along the edge of the print, it's fresh and it's from a large adult,' said Bobby. 'Let's follow.'
The tracks soon leave the river bank and head into the forest. Tane's impressed by how Bobby can spot small disturbances in the undergrowth that show where the tiger has been. Even so after a couple of hours and a fair bit of backtracking, Bobby puts his hands in the air saying he's lost it.
They retrace their steps back to the track and find a good place to camp the night.
'Do you want to learn how to make fire?' said Bobby.
'Why?' said Tane. 'I've got a solar cooker.'
'I spend a lot of time far from human habitation,' said Bobby. 'And you never know when something will go wrong and a fire is the only way to get warm and dry. I always carry a fire striker with me but just in case I've learnt to make fire without it. I'm not an expert yet and need to practice. If you'd like to try I can show you how.'
'Why not,' said Tane.
It takes them an hour to find the right wood and dry moss, saying thank you, and another hour to carve the staff and base and to make a bow using a shoe lace. After twenty minutes Bobby has a fire. Tane's now excited and determined to make fire. Two hours later with the sun setting he finally does it.
Tane thinks to himself how you can learn everything on the Internet but you can't find out what you want to learn without getting out and meeting people doing different things.
'Now we have fire, let's cook dinner,' said Bobby.
He pulls out a bag of greens he's been collecting while walking the track and some roots he already had and makes a pot of soup. It's been a long day and Tane is worn out after struggling to get a fire going and bush bashing trying to see a tiger.
'Do you smoke?' said Tane lighting a joint.
'Occasionally,' said Bobby taking the joint from Tane.
Stoned and sitting by the small cooking fire Tane thinks of all the people who have sat around a fire and got stoned after a long day hunting.
'How did you come to learn about all this stuff, making fire and finding wild food and tracking animals?' said Tane.
'I started working in horticulture,' said Bobby. 'Analysing different plants and how they are metabolised by the body. This got me into how cooking food not only changes the food but us as well, which got me into finding out about how people ate before we had fire.'
'The relationship between people and what we eat has changed people, the food we eat and the face of the planet. It got me thinking about our place in the universe.'
'It's funny how one hundred years ago the idea of parallel or multi-universes were popular, when really there's just very big and really small and we're in the middle.'
'With very big moving too slow for us to notice and really small moving too fast. I can understand where the confusion came from.'
'The same with the duality of everything. The square's natural state is to bind to other squares, squeezing out the circle, squeezing out life. The circle's natural state is to break up the square, making life. This is the battle between good and evil, between God and the devil, between life and death.'
“More is the nature of life and death.
Wisdom is knowing when more is less.”
The island of Sulawesi has villages that are built on poles in the shallow waters along the coast. Tahara is staying at The Traveller’s Rest in the town of Tombak that is on the shore. She heard about this place from Eke in Adonara and decided to visit on her way to meet Tane. She spoke to Tane yesterday via video link. He told her he is going to be chilling out on Ko Tao for a week and he will wait for her there.
Tombak is a fishing village. It's been a fishing village for hundreds of years and sees no reason to change, but change has come anyway. About half the people of the village now live on land tending crops for food and medicine and clothing and housing. Without trade, fishing villages can no longer support themselves on fish alone.
The region has been lucky so far, but one day a storm or a tsunami will threaten their way of life, so Tahara wants to see this place now because it might not be here in the future, the people might have to move inland. Land has been set aside for them to move to when this day does come. Exceptions have also been made for other groups of people. Indigenous people that have suffered under colonisation have had traditional lands set aside for future population growth. It was the least that could be done after the large powerful nations had completely decimated the indigenous people intentionally with war and disease and taking their lands led to multi-generational poverty.
When equality came, these wrongs had to be addressed, so for every village of colonised people, space was set aside for another village. Tahara stays for just a few days, then she cycles across to the other side of the island and boards a boat that goes directly to Ko Tao where Tane is waiting for her.
Even though juvenile white tip reef sharks are completely safe to swim with, Tane still gets a buzz from following them over the coral reefs of Shark Bay on the eastern side of Ko Tao. Maybe the marijuana adds a bit to the paranoia and the way water magnifies the size of the sharks but it's the way the sharks move through the water just like big sharks that Tane loves. He likes snorkeling at home but has fallen in love with the warm, clear, ever so full of colours, tropical waters, happy to spend hours on end getting stoned and following fish.
Tane's also happy because he has met someone. Her name is Jaidee and she's from Ko Tao. She wants to travel and Tane's more than happy that she wants to come with him. Tane's also hit it off with a couple from Lamu who are on their way home, and a guy from Scandinavia. The five of them are at the port and ready to go. Tahara's boat is just arriving.
'Tahara,' said Tane, giving her a big hug. 'I'm so glad you're here, I've missed you.'
'I've missed you too,' said Tahara. 'Is The Traveller's Rest near, I need to rest up for a while. It's been a long trip and all I want is to lie down in a bed that's not rocking back and forth.'
'Then I've got some bad news for you,' said Tane.
He waves to his friends and they come over.
'This is Jaidee, Chane, Ashon and Felix.' said Tane as they exchange greetings.
'I'm sorry, but we've been waiting for you and if we don't get the boat to the mainland this afternoon we'll miss the weekly boat to the Andaman Islands in two days time. I'm sorry Tahara, do you mind? The boat leaves in an hour.'
'Well travelling isn't supposed to be easy,' said Tahara after taking a big breath in and out.
'Thank you,' said Tane. 'Do you want to go for a swim?'
The six of then head for the water to cool off for an hour.
“When grasses are the dominant species,
deserts are in the making.”
'I'm going home,' said Jaidee.
'What, I mean why?' said Tane.
'I miss home, I miss my family, my friends, I miss the food, I don't like the food here. I miss everything, I need to go home,' said Jaidee.
'You're homesick,' said Tane. 'That's normal, everyone gets homesick now and then, it passes, I promise you, I sometimes get homesick too, and then it passes and you wonder what came over you and you're glad you didn't give in to it. I'm not joking, it will pass.'
'No, I'm going home. Travelling isn't for me that's all. Meeting you, I wanted to be with you. I wanted an adventure, but it's not for me, that's all. I'm really glad to have travelled with you. It's been a truly wonderful month.'
Tane, Tahara, Chane, Ashon and Felix say their goodbyes to Jaidee and to the Arabian Peninsula. Then board the boat to the Horn of Africa.
The Horn of Africa now has a forested coast. One hundred years ago this place was desert, ten thousand years ago it was grasslands, one hundred thousand years ago it was forest.
The forest was cleared for firewood and building material but mostly to provide grass for the grazing animals that were hunted for food.
Grasses evolved to be fast growing and to spread their seed far and wide. This is because grasses evolved to fill the spaces in between, along waterways, where trees have fallen, landslides and in the tundra between the forests and the snow covered peaks. Covering the earth in grasses was making the earth into a dead desert planet.
In a small clearing in the forest an old wildebeest is surrounded by a dozen or so young wildebeests to hear the history of their herd.
'Once we were wanderers,' is how the old wildebeest always starts this story. 'We used to have to run and run and run across the savanna and cross rivers full of crocodiles. We would run and run until the rains come.'
Nearby hidden in some undergrowth a young dog is sitting and watching the wildebeest in the clearing. In a tree above the dog sits a crow.
'There's no dying there,' said the crow to the dog.
'I think I can catch one,' said the dog to the crow.
'I don't think you can, not on your own.' said Crow.
'Not the old one, it's old but it's still strong,' said Dog.
'The young ones look fast and fleet of foot. They'll have you running in circles and looking like a fool,' said Crow.
'But if I stick to one and chase it down,' said Dog.
'The old one might get you,' said Crow. 'But I know where there's meat galore. It's near, I can show you the way.'
Dog's ears stand up and that old wildebeest has some really big horns. So he follows Crow.
An old hippo had come out of the river to die the night before and nobody knows where except for Crow. He had the eyes for breakfast and once Dog tears its belly open he can feast on the intestines for lunch.
'Now the grasslands are gone,' continues the old wildebeest. 'Replaced by forests like it was hundreds of thousands of years ago before people got fire, there are far fewer of us wildebeests, but our population is stable and there's no need to migrate. Life is better now and we no longer have to cross rivers full of crocodiles. There's still danger but predators are smart and would rather eat the dead and the dying.'