Nourishing the soul benefits the more important inner landscape. By expanding your world, you make invisible lifelong changes.
Hidden pathways in the Meherangarh Fort reveal families living as ancestors taught. The shawl-covered woman, preparing pancakes of flour and goat milk, motioned me to stand behind her table. Sticky white fingers removed yards and yards of a fabric apron, shook the flour dust free, tied the garment around my waist, and pushed my fingers into the midget sized bowl of gooey dough.
Preparing pancakes inside the fort India
Holding onto the rope attached to the door of the 30 year old Suzuki taxi van was my safeguard from the hot asphalt snake gracing my first day in Papua New Guinea. The wood benches lining the walls were invisible because of dozens of people being held in place by each other. Holes in the floor were covered by handmade bags called bilum. Children, baby chicks pleading for their mothers and rice sacks filled with yams or 1000’s of betel nuts, fought for room to breathe. A child sitting on my feet peeled an orange and discarded the peelings under her feet after quickly wiping her hands on my pant leg. Everyone seemed to be hugging their neighbor, holding on tight as the taxi driver maneuvered the corners while he looked for a CD hiding under his seat.
Papua New Guinea
Fields of scarecrows caught my attention as women bent at the waist with sickles cutting grass looked more like mounds of weeds topped with red flowers. The bodies without heads shouted phrases back and forth until my approach changed their posture to upright and almost fearful stances frozen. Waiting for some kind of change in my activity, their stares led me to walk slowly as Tibetans don’t like their pictures taken. Again “knee how” (hello) broke the ice and quickly they began their rhythmic motion of bending, cutting, standing, piling mounds of winter grass feed and bending again. One woman opted for a break, pausing to remove her gloves and tall rubber boots followed by digging deep in her apron for an apple. She removed her traditional red padded headdress revealing two more layers of fabric wet with sweat. Men moved yaks to new greener pastures yanking the long ropes tied to control their roaming too far from home.
Shangri La, China
Laughing abruptly stopped as my white skin, hiking boots and pocket covered shirt startled a group of teenagers crowding the concrete pad of the local well. Paint from local plants and roots spilled out of small round gourds balancing on the flat surface. The creativity of the individuals showed on their bodies with brilliant reds and yellows.
“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Tennyson’s words shielded me, along with a mosquito net for protection of my sweet blood. Toothpicks allowed my watchful eyes to remain on the lookout for any kind of movement like a wild rodent with a sweet tooth. My dried fruits soothed my soul at times when the trail led to a dead end. I have had rats and mice eat huge holes in my canvass luggage just to sample my protein bars in countries like Burma and Papua New Guinea. Hearty explorers bathed in the virgin waters of the Sambu River. A bucket of river water met my needs quite nicely. Suspicious eyes disappeared after the first day of my wandering the village. River fishing, walks to visit neighboring families and an invitation to meet the local medicine man for explanations of medicinal plants and their uses gave me opportunities to understand the pride these Embera people felt.