After finishing up a coffee, packing, and grabbing some food from a cafe, I was sat on the bus out of PG after asking the driver to drop me at ‘the junction’. As it carried on its journey, I was faced with a 3 mile walk into the village. I was accompanied for a while with Lydia (who was in town seeing her sister in hospital) until she revealed that she had a bike parked just up the road, and would be pedalling off soon. A short time later, a pick up truck came was driving past and so I had a ride up into Laguna in the relative luxury of the front seat.
I asked around for where to go, and was directed to the Guest House by a guy named Vicente, who was the incoming President of the Acada (village law and order). He gave me a quick breakdown of how the village operates, and also its relationship with TEA. With that, he left and I was greeted by his brother, Francisco, who took me to his house for lunch.
As is customary in their culture, as a visitor I sat on a separate table whilst they got on with what they were doing. The house was just one room with a dirt floor in which there were hammocks, a bed, their belongings, and the kitchen. Lunch was a spicy chicken broth with tortillas. The girls sat by the stove; flattening out the corn mixture and cooking it up.
Fed, Francisco and I began a tour into the jungle to visit some caves that were up in the trees. Along the way, was told about the various village buildings, what different plants were used for, and a background into how our lives were different.
The destination for the jungle tour was a cave up in the hills. As with most caves, it was pretty eerie and he described how there had once been a precious stone (jade) here that had been stolen by some Americans about thirty years ago. All very Indiana Jones. We explored the crevices and climbed up to a vantage point that looked out over the rest of the rainforest. It was a green ocean to the horizon. Despite the slightly cooler temperature within the rock walls, it was still a sweaty ascent. Alas, another opportunity for a Profile Pic is cast to the Outtakes folder…
Francisco and I chatted about the world for a while as we looked on a view that others had done for years and then took a different route back to see some more flora and fauna. He said one was used to relieve itchiness, which was timely as I’d just received (another) mosquito bite.
We got back to the village and took a long walk back to the Guest House. Francisco suggested we have a drink, and so took a stick and a machete to a coconut and got it open. I then had a go, and ended up dribbling a lot. It was delicious though.
There was then some down time before dinner at another house. Rosa lived with four others, including her rather cheeky granddaughter Rosie. Food was a sort of chicken stew, coloured with a pepper paste, served with tortillas. I spoke with Rosa about how the house had been built (logs had to be cut on a full moon so that there weren’t woodworms living there) and how the community worked by people volunteering to do the building, in anticipation that others do the same. She said also that she was one of twelve, but her daughters will now probably only have three or four children, meaning they are more likely to be able to afford an education. I asked why this wasn’t the case previously, and she said that people didn’t really think, and parents would never really consider passing on these kinds of life lessons. More recently however, the younger generation have become much more inquisitive (since they have begun education) and are now questioning all sorts of traditions – “you can’t keep no secrets from them now”.
We were then joined by the boisterous toddler Rosie. At first she was slightly weary of the family’s new guest, but soon felt confident enough to tell me her name, quickly followed by some of the new words that she’d just learnt. Rosa tells me “tom-boy-ash” is the equivalent of “cheeky monkey” which Rosie found hilarious when I said it back. It was the same with “kanga-woo”. This lasted nearly half an hour: Rosie running around talking, putting pots on her head, generally driving her mother to despair. This included peeling sellotape off the floor, and sticking it on me. Before I left, I took some photos of the family, which have now been sent to them. The address was easy “just send it to Rosa in Laguna and it will get here”.
I got back to the Guest House for the night before waking in the morning, getting a lift to the junction, and then arriving back at the hostel through the bustle of market day PG.