“Sometimes it's more about
what we don't do than what we do do.”
As guests they don't go to town to The Traveller's Rest but instead stay at Eke's family home. His family are excited to have him home and are pleased Tahara and Tane are with him. It is customary to bring people to the festival, as they are proud to be the custodians of a unique dance for thousands of years and feel obliged to share.
By the time they get to the centre of the village the festival has already begun. Eke leaves Tahara and Tane with the spectators and joins in with the dancers of the outer ring. There are two rings, each with about forty people. The outer ring of dancers holding hands move clockwise while the inner ring moves anti-clockwise. The people of the village coming and going as they please. After about half an hour Eke comes back to Tahara and Tane and asks them to join in. This time they join the inner ring. Eke then takes them to the long table where food and drinks are served, and then back for some more dancing.
The dancing and drinking went on into the early hours of the night. The next morning, Tahara was looking forward to a sleep in but is woken by Eke.
'Tahara,' he whispers. 'I've got to go down to the bay. It's low tide in two hours and there's some work I need to do. Would you like to come with me?'
'Sure,' she says. 'Just give me a moment to shower.'
'OK, when you're ready, I'll be waiting in the kitchen with mum, and we'll have breakfast before we go.'
We have put so much effort into reforesting the land. We are land animals and without money to complicate things, we have the knowledge and we know how to apply it. Not so much with the sea.
For eighty years after ending competition and monetary systems, all we had to do to fix the ocean was nothing. We did work at re-establishing the wetlands and mangroves and plantings to reduce coastal erosion and soil run off and we did reintroducing shellfish and removed the rubbish from the shore but hands off was the policy to fix the ocean proper. Any fishing is just for the family, and the practice is only to take enough for that day.
It's only been in the past thirty years that we've been using the ocean as a food source for whole villages, and then only villages on the coast.
Eke wants to test the mud and sand around the bay. He's recently learnt of some types of seaweed that should grow well here with aquaculture. It grows wild here already so he doesn't have to worry about them becoming invasive species and if care is taken his actions won't do any damage to the environment and might even help, if he always keeps in mind that variety is everything.
For Eke having Tahara along is a Godsend. His village has only just got into aquaculture, unlike Tahara's village that's been doing it for years. Tahara grew up with aquaculture and as soon as she got to the workstation on the bay she decided she would like to stay for a while and get this place up and running.
A basic hut is the only building there. It's surrounded by tropical jungle and coconut palms line the bay. People don't live on the coast anymore. There's a minimum of one hundred metres of forest between water and human habitation. On the coast it's often a one kilometre buffer. Having a buffer doesn't just protect the water and coastal plants and animals from us but also makes the land in use near the coast more productive.
They gather samples of mud and sand and take them back to the lab in town to analyse.
“Wandering the ruins, wondering
what lay between, the pillars and beams.”
At the lab, Tahara and Eke compare the low and high tide depth and with the information Eke got from his trip to Timor, they work out the best places to grow the seaweed. Then it's back to the bay to categorise what is growing in the proposed areas, so they can monitor any changes.
The structures they plan to build are just a few wood poles. The poles are carved with nooks where the plants can take root. Eke plans to grow one hundred different types of aquatic plants. At the moment there are only a few. He only needs to provide enough seaweed for one hundred people. The village is starting to get into eating it. Eke hopes once he gets a bigger variety, people will eat more.
It's not much work for Eke and his workmate Kamba. Kamba's had no trouble while he's been away. Every morning he paddles out and picks the weed to take back to his village on his bicycle. Eke helps with picking and then does lab work and maintenance. Kamba's all done by 9am and Eke by midday but plans to work more with Tahara's help.
Tahara tells Tane she wants to stay for a few weeks. Tane decides to head to Cherrapunji in India to learn how to grow the tree houses and wait for Tahara there. He checks his phone's map that links to the ferry service. The next ferry leaves in the morning. Tonight is Tane's last night and there is a feast.
The sacred dance festival lasts for three days. Day two is all about eating. There are photos on the walls of the village hall of three pigs and nine goats all slaughtered in a pool of blood with their throats cut. People here like most people everywhere don't eat meat anymore. The gruesome photos are still on the village hall's walls as a reminder of where we came from.
The way the tree roots have overgrown the ruins of Angkor Wat cements the idea for Tane that his tree houses don't necessarily need to be completely made out of living trees but can be a mix of life and death. Not just because it will be easier but because it will be more practical too. If one of the tree's limbs gets rotten then it can be cut off and replaced with cut timber.
He likes the look of stone and living trees together, it's just in New Zealand the earthquake risk is too high to even consider using stone, but maybe for places that don't have earthquakes it might be OK.
I wonder what Tahara is up too? thinks Tane. It's been almost three weeks since he left Adonara. Two weeks island hopping across Indonesia to Singapore where the city was just abandoned and now the ruins are a tourist attraction. Then three days on a boat to the coast of Cambodia and the last few days cycling to Angkor Wat. He feels guilty rushing and promises to himself to spend more time here on his return.
The cycleways are far quicker than the boats, so at least he got to see the multi-coloured lakes of Flores and the dragons on Komodo. After spending the whole day walking over the hills and not seeing a single dragon, typically when he returns to the camp, dragons are waiting there for him.
He thinks the komodo dragons are a lot like the elite that ruled the world one hundred years ago. The way they maim their prey and the bacteria in their saliva slowly kills it. Most often for another dragon to eat.
Like the way the elite would put in place policy that would benefit other wealthy people even if they don't benefit directly themselves, because they know the key to keeping their privileged positions is to have a strong ruling class and a weak under class to attend to their every whim.
“One can't run from a Tiger,
but one can chase one down.”
Angkor Wat was first a Hindu temple built in the 12th century. Hinduism is five thousand years old but really was around long before that. It just wasn't a religion back then but just a way of life. Just how it is because there wasn't much contact with other belief systems to have a comparison. It was only later on when people came to live in cities and needed trade did other beliefs become known about and the realisation that Hinduism is one of many systems and not just how life is.
At Angkor Wat Traveller's Rest Tane hops online to chat with Tahara but she's out. She's left him a message saying she's on her way but he wants to chat so they can arrange where to meet. He's enjoyed travelling alone but he does miss Tahara and the comfort of having someone familiar around.
The best part of travelling alone is you're more likely to get to know new people, but it's more fun travelling with friends. He's read that when groups of people travel together it's easy for a group mentality to form that excludes meeting strangers. That was never going to happen with Tahara anyway, but still, being on his own has forced him to meet more strangers.
'Good news?' said Bobby.
'Yeah, my friend is on her way,' said Tane, smiling.
'Girlfriend?' said Bobby with a wily look.
'No she's a friend from home, who I'm travelling with,'
'But you want her to be your girlfriend?'
Tane's pauses, giving himself away.
'She's so lovely, there's no way she's interested in me.'
'You never know,' said Bobby. 'Women aren't like men.'
'So you're still up for tomorrow?'
'Yeah, can't wait,' said Tane.
They hope to see a tiger. Tigers have large territories so even though they are no longer an endangered species you're still lucky to see one. It's safe to travel through tiger country because since reforestation, people are no longer on the tiger's menu.
Tigers simply don't see us as food anymore. Why would they when there are so much easier pickings to be had. The forests are so full of life that they are also full of death.
Tigers can sniff out an animal that is dying of old age and swoop in to make a quick kill. Just like how overfishing in the past changed the behaviour of orca. Faced with hunger orca's had to find new food sources like baby whales and otters. The reforestation of the planet has also changed the behaviour and evolution of all life on earth.
The knock on effect of our stupidity had disastrous consequences for countless species of plants and animals. The knock on effect of our efforts to repair the damage we had done is a much friendlier world to live in for all life. We are now starting to see what harmony will be like.
Tane and Bobby ask some travellers at The Traveller's Rest if they can take their bikes on the cycleway to a town on the other side of Angkor nature reserve, which they happily agree to do.
On bikes you're not likely to see a tiger, so for the next five days they will be walking, carrying all the gear they need with them. It's always been Bobby's dream to see a tiger and Tane's got time on his side so is happy to be walking with him on this adventure.
There are no zoos anymore, animals for entertainment ended with money. They served the purpose of showing people what needed protection but now if you want to see a tiger, other than in virtual reality then you've got to go to where tiger's live.