Thursday, June 05, 2008

Waterfall trek/wild pig hunt

We'd heard mention of an impressive waterfall within walking distance of Lamen Bay and originally planned to trek to the falls on my birthday, returning to a modest birthday feast and an early night. Fortunately Isabel had other ideas and persuaded us to save the trek for another day.

Enquires in the village, gave us time estimates varying from one and a half to four hours each way, although a frequent response was that that it was a long way - apparently not good a sign. Undeterred and after a day to recuperate from the festivities we headed-off in the dinghy, shortly after first light, for the neighbour-but-one village - Alak. We soon had the usual intrigued gathering around us, helping to lift the dinghy clear of the surf and tide, then launching a search party for the chief who introduced us to Andrew, Jeffrey and Philip our guides for the day.

Off we set with Jeffrey setting a cracking pace and accompanied by his five dogs with the rest of us following behind and attempting to keep up and not stumble on the damp slippery jungle floor. The dogs remained quiet during the trek, apart from a brief interlude when they harassed a feral cat cowering in a tree, when suddenly, after three hours trekking, they came to life. They'd found a wild pig and the hunt was on. Quickly branches were cut and machetes transformed into spears then Jeffrey and Philip disappeared into the jungle in pursuit of the dogs.We waited until the excited barking and encouraging yells from our former guides disappeared amongst the undergrowth. Andrew confidently told us that we'd all meet-up again at the waterfall, so our depleted party headed off on the increasingly overgrown "path", Andrew leading and setting a more sedate pace as he cleared the way with his machete.
As predicted we'd spent about 20 minutes at the impressive 200m waterfall enjoying a power-shower and lunch when the others arrived euphoric and full of tales of the chase.
It didn't take too long to retrace our steps and find the pig, which was speedily butchered for ease of carrying. Off we set again with Jeffrey carrying the bulk of the carcass, Philip carrying a leg and head, Andrew taking the remains of the carcass and a leg and Charlotta and I carrying a leg each.

The return journey was noticeably slower, Jeffrey still leading, but making frequent rest stops. Even the dogs seemed exhausted, sleeping as soon as we stopped. I enjoyed the easier pace, but still counted down the sights we'd passed; seven river crossings, treacherous slippy section next to a sheer-drop, two large banyan trees, copra production shed, a couple of mango trees, three cows etc.
I imagined that we'd stroll into town and be greeted as returning heros with Charlotta and I earning our place in tribal history with our leg carrying efforts. In the event, half a mile before the village we were greeted by fellow villagers and gradually pig parts were offloaded, we gave up our legs and Jeffrey and Philip headed off in other directions. When we arrived in the centre we had nothing to mark us out as intrepid pig hunters and returned to the dinghy unnoticed. Still a great day's trek and finished with a delicious roast dinner courtesy of the generous hunk from rear right leg we were given. How about that for food-traceability? I doubt even London's wondrous Borough Market could match....

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