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Jungle Stories Part 3: nature's supply store

On a more pleasant note, it was fascinating seeing how they survive using the plants as we use a supermarket. Although I’ve read & lectured extensively on the subject, its totally different when you actually experience & benefit from it. It really makes you appreciate nature and how the indigenous people have learned to harness it.

As we walked, they collected various parts of various plants to be used for cooking, shelter and hunting:

FOOD: Bamboo branches about 2.5-3” in diameter were cut into poles about 3’ long and were used for carrying, cooking & storage of food (like tupperware).

Huge waterproof leaves (banana), were used for plates, steaming & covers (like saran-wrap). Left-over cooked rice, chicken, & beef were wrapped in these huge leaves & stuffed into the bamboo poles, topped off with water from the streams, and the top & bottom plugged with additional huge leaves, & all strapped on Belansai’s backpack.

When it was time to eat, Belansai would prop them up over the fire using a shelf that Janda constructed. Belansai seemed to be more of the craftsman and Janda was the carpenter. When cooked, the leaf plugs were removed from the bamboo poles, the leaf-wrapped food removed & unwrapped & the leaves became serving platters & plates!!

They ate with their fingers, Lemon & I used plastic forks. The steaming liquid from the bamboo poles containing the beef & chicken was poured into bowls & mixed with jungle garlic & jungle ginger (both bigger & tastier than ours), chilies ( hotter than ours) and soy sauce, and became a nutritious, delicious soup. Instant coffee, green tea, Tuak & absolutely delicious pineapple finished off each meal.

SHELTER: The construction of the hammock/tent contraption was equally fascinating. I videotaped while they worked. Strong forked branches were stripped and used as vertical supports for the pole that formed the horizontal beam, over which the plastic sheeting for

the roof was draped. (they used plastic as its easier to carry it than to search for & collect the large waterproof leaves they previously used for roofing)

Selected vines were stripped & separated into twine & used for lashing the wood poles together .. Janda was the master logger /carpenter who found and prepared the materials, while Belansai was the craftsman who put it all together. Janda made my walking stick, while Belansai made a grip on it out of the twine-like vine ..which eventually dried to the consistency of a leather shoelace!

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