Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Big Tree in Sumatra

We'll be alright once we get to the big tree. What tree? We had been walking for days. We had seen many trees. I'd seen a woman who looked to be 85 by the wrinkles in her face running up a hill with a twenty pound bag of rice on her head. We'd seen her coming back too four hours later. She had been to Bukitingi. We'd be there in a few days. I felt like a right tourist. The sweat had trickled down my legs and dried and been washed away the next day by a new stream. The jungle of Sumatra. You want to be careful. Sound advice as I slipped again. I wish he would have told me not to wear flip flops. Flip flops are alright for guides.

I was right. It was something between a mountain and a hill. We're not going to make it down this mountain before sunset. Yes we will. Perhaps without me...not at my pace. There were roots to trip over and the voices of birds to admire.

So we came to the middle of the mountain at night. It was suddenly dark. Too dark to even step. Stepping in the dark down a steep narrow path getting sludge-eir with each footprint. I held on to his t-shirt. His torch...He hadn't brought a torch. I pulled out a postcard. We lit it and moved forward for a while. Even the moon wasn't lighting our way. So dark. tree branches and palm leaves flying in the face.

I slipped and went knee deep in a slimey bog. I saw glow in the dark tree roots. My slippery leg. Seven postcards later, we came to it as he said...the big tree. And it really was a big tree. We turn right here. The shipbuilder's treehouse is nearby. And it was. He had a beard, electricity, and running cold water. I lifted to my leg to tap to rinse off the mud, but it was moving. The mud was moving. It was leeches. Foot to knee leeches...a mixture of blood and black worms. They laughed at the screaming tourist. Only leeches. Here, just flick them off. He scraped them off my leg with a newspaper. The leg had been sucked and eaten like a chicken bone. Little holes everywhere. It continued to bleed. Any bandages? I fell asleep on a bed-like bench with my guide nearby and leg wrapped in newspaper like fish and chips. 

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