A trekking adventure in West Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, a place where some people still hunt their food with bows and arrows, challenges preconceptions and produces unexpected insights for intrepid traveler Barbara Brown Allen.
“Na! Na! Hurry; let’s go to the market! Ayo!” Mama Arli’s raspy voice bellows below my kitchen window.
Mama Arli is my neighbor four houses down from mine, and she is always yelling at me. She’s pregnant with her third child, though hardly showing. Arli is the name of her firstborn son, and his name replaced her own once he was born. All mothers are called by their firstborn’s name without exception.
Her house is sturdy, also on stilts, and she is fortunate to have a deep well located just a few feet from her kitchen ladder. It is November in Indonesia and this means its coffee-picking season for those in our Sumatran village. Mama Arli and her husband aren’t home much; instead they are occupied with the daily task of harvesting beans, and then drying the beans on tarps beside their home.