Archive for April, 2010
April 28th, 2010
When we did decide to pull out of Wunpuko – a decision as inevitable as it was determined – it was most important that it be done in a gentle and trusting way, as that is the way they [these people who have welcomed us into their bosom] wished it to be. It followed then that the lease between us [Edenhope] and Wunpuko village would be resolved equitably; and it was, successfully, it must be said. Even though our departure from this special community brought considerable consternation and regret to so many of them, and perhaps even more to those who had become more intimately involved with us, mutual respect and trust did ultimately prevail.
One so easily makes quite strong relationships here. There is so little personal agenda beyond the obvious that serves to separate the likes of us no matter that we are separate from our hosts not only because we have a whole panoply of means that they don’t have ….and so are well beyond their dreams, and expectations ….but we also have no agenda that would either impose upon, or take from, them or their culture. In the end, it happens that those who are most the product of their culture ….act out a predictable scenario that represents their indigenous roots. While those of us who have moved into a deeper relationship with the ‘world’ in its entirety ….also breathe in a different system. Only such as perspectives separate us now. Though the connection is stronger between us as family, it is at the shallow level of culture that we have perforce left…..
The loss of such immediacy, however, will not disserve either of us and we shall benefit enormously from the knowledge and experience they possess. You must realize that there still exists a profound fear of us - even us! – which of course plays a part, even if sublimally, but it was our openness of spirit that served to connect us more than anything that might otherwise have compromised our mutual trust. That we were appreciated and respected is a loving testament to this, our chosen ‘home’.
Another, and perhaps more cynical [pragmatic?] view is that the land situation in Wunpuko, as it turned out, was not as straight forward as it seemed. Those lands we had leased way up in the bush, behind Wunpuko village, were just not as hospitable or remote as we wished – nor were we even unanimously accepted in it as we hoped.
So it was with certain relief, and new anticipation, that we were thus enabled to explore an alternative that had been presented many months ago, even before last August when we actually signed the lease in Wunpuko village.
Our first excursion into these new lands was led by a handful of younger men – the strength and future of Tasmate village. This event could only take place once the whole community accepted us - and we would go through the process with ceremony, yielding to the destiny it held in balance. If this were to turn out to be the magic wonderland we had hoped for, we could still only go there after having spent many hours with the elders and almost all the adults of the village learning each other little by little.
A small village of less than a hundred souls, Tasmate, is the virtual province of several brothers – one of whom is chief and one with whom we had become closer to us over the year before since he was and still is an advisor to the Minister of Finance [who, you will recall, comes from Wunpuko].
A mutual experience of at least threshold understanding must necessarily precede any possibility of seeing the land as it lies deep inside the realm of the culture they value so highly. Only after that might we take even a first step into the ‘sacred’ land. Several times during that first community meeting, the progress we were making toward acceptance of Edenhope – and us, as its parents – was submitted to vote. It was satisfying to us as well, to share our story in the nakamal – the heart of ‘Jif Titus’ nasara [’Jif’ is ‘Chief’] - with all of us sitting on mats that covered the concrete floor, accommodating all those who attended [including some small children].
The village, though small by most standards in this island-country, is rich in land. From the sheltered cove that fronts it on the ocean [sol wata] side, its lands stretch each way some five kms or so, and then up the two river valleys reaching into the strong mountains that cover most of Santo’s interior, but especially the west side and all the west coast where its largets mountains are found. Rivers can also be natural boundaries that separate neighboring villages. So Tasmate is easily some ten to twelve kms from its nearest neighboring villages both to the north and to the south.
Our patience and enjoyment of the various facets of this first ‘encounter’ led to the beginning of a strong connection that would be further strengthened during the trek into the interior. Our advanced age also brought respect from the young men, especially as our spirits were undaunted by the climb inland - and inspite of our tiring more easily.
Our small group followed the river valley steadily, but gently, upward into the rainforest. One cannot call it bush because the canopy is so complete that no ‘bush’ grows under it with any success. The young men pointed out the main river boundary to the north, the waters running strong and clear along a rocky path …making lots of music. And the place where the lands begin that they wanted us to have. It could accommodate a hundred Edenhopes….
To the east and south, it easily stretches up into ten or twenty thousand hectares – whatever we wished we could have.This issome of the wildest, uninhabited forest that exists in the whole of the South Pacific. It was a thrilling contemplation that this, then, might be the long sought portal Edenhope had longed for…..
The long trek up and back in that one long day had begun and ended with a ride up the coast to the river in an outboard-powered skiff belonging to ‘Roger’, the patron of the Rojo family (as that is their real custom name]. It was he who had invited us long before this exhausting one-day trek which finally ended ….in a long, deep sleep.
We would return soon, to spend a few days up the river valley to really appreciate it. A few weeks later we returned. And, instead of the boat ride to the river this time, it was on horseback that the first seven kms of the trek were made; at least by Stephen, Ruth having chosen to walk. Most of you have already seen a few of the pictures from this part of our journey. The three days ended with a growing confidence that ….this was the right place for us, and all that had preceded it had occurred only to prepare and lead us to this special place where we now were.
Where we camped the second night will surely become part of Edenhope village. The land stretched amply beneath the unbroken canopy protecting it, naturally terraced down to the river. But our particular needs would require that it extend to both sides of the river – that was clear too [and has set off the necessary vibrations to achieve it]. On the way back the third day, Stephen thanked one of the trees not far from the lovely place where we broke camp ….with a great hug.! So gratifying was it, he swore the tree said ‘I love you too’. It was just that simple.
So now, of course, on to the various steps that will hopefully lead to a formal conclusion with Lease and Conservation Area completed and in due course a ceremony that will consecrate the acceptance of our being there – something we have learned can be accomplished in the short space of a couple of months if you know what to do and who will actually do it. So we are once again confident as we proceed to take these definitive steps. And we will move smartly as the world crisis is deepening ever faster.
We will aim to finalize the lease and ‘Conservation Area’ in a five-hundred to seven-hundred hectare tranche of this really vast land, so we can limit the ‘managed’ area of it to what is practical for a small community. And without anyone in the higher realms beyond us, there is no real need for as much land as there could be…. All that, all of it, we cede only to the Great Spirit - now, what better neighborhood could one wish?!!!