Why do we travel? #2

Posted on August 16, 2010


In response to the question I posed to fellow bloggers and travellers, (Why do you travel?) Carolyn Nash @ I don’t wash my hair sent over a story which she believes encapsulates exactly this. Enjoy…

“Bertua’s name makes my mouth feel airy, a thin flutter as the r rolls. He steps towards me as though I am a frog he is about to capture. Hopi macone, he whispers. He is teaching me to speak.

The other boys call me Ibu Bertua: Bertua’s mother. We are sitting in a bamboo hut, brushing leeches from our legs and getting ready for our first night in the forest. The men from the tribe have gathered in the candlelight, their burnished teeth flashing white against the flame. The air smells open and wet, the clean you can feel in your lungs after a storm.

The men speak of the land that has already been lost, of the arrangements that have been made to clear more of the forest. Earlier, at our base, Koko told me they don’t have much longer, these tribes who have lived in the jungle since their ancestors settled in Sumatra.


In thirty years, he said, they will have nothing left. Some will settle in the villages. The rest will be homeless, like the tribes to the South.

Bertua leaps towards me: Hopi macone, he whispers.

Hopi macone, I repeat.

I had asked Koko about their language, what would happen when they settled in the villages. Lost, Koko said. Gone with the forest.

Bertua laughs now, presses his face to mine. Hopi macone! we say. Hopi macone, hopi macone, against and again: words that will live only as long as we do. “

 How about you? Why do you travel? If you have a travel blog and would like to be featured on www.travelwithdenden.wordpress.com, send your submission via the contact form and if I like what I read, they will be published with a link back to your site. No spammers or general commercial travel blogs please.

– Text and photography by Carolyn Nash, author of the blog I don’t wash my hair, hosted on www.travelwithdenden.wordpress.com