I recently conducted an interview with Anne Gordon, a well known Canadian travel writer. Anne had just recently returned from Papua New Guinea and in particular, a trip up the Sepik River where she visited local tribes and learned something of the Malagan culture).
As a travel writer Anne speaks about the benefits of belonging to NATJA and other travel organizations, the benefits such as sponsored trips and the professional development opportunities that are open for travel writing.
As Anne said, “New Guinea is undoubtedly the most exotic and fascinating place she has ever been, there are over 900 tribes scattered throughout the island and an an ecosystem that spreads both above and beneath the surface”. Many of New Guinea’s tribes maintain customs and cultures that hold a special fascination for us in the west. Head hunting and cannibalism still exist in isolated pockets and have been practised quite commonly within the last 100 years.
Anne Gordon’s interview centres around the Sepik River and the carver’s of the Malagan culture, in particular the master carvers of New Ireland, she shows many incredible pictures of the tribes in that area and the tribal culture of New Guinea.
Looking for caves we spent a long hot day slogging through the forest near Toronto. The bugs were really bad and we were pretty much disoriented for a significant part of our search. Jeff had located some deep conical sinkholes on a high-rez aerial photo. It appeared that here were 4 or five of these pits somewhere out in the bush. we began by following fields, then a fence line that disappeared in the forest and then finally, just us, the mosquitoes and a bear.
Not having drunk enough water, this creepy looking tree seemed to have qualities other than just natural ones. I imagined it as some sinister kind of entity, inhabited by all sorts of odd figments of my imagination – but sinkholes and finding caves, were those a figment of our imaginations?
This is what a burn site looks like – typical of the kind of terrain a tree planter works in.
The planter is a guy called Don who was a film student in Ryerson, he carries ‘container stock’ and is using a pottie (potty) to put his trees in the ground.
The idea is that you take your seedling out of your planting bag – roots neatly encased in a little cardboard roll – and drop it down the red tube that Don is holding. At the bottom of the tube is a spike that is driven into the ground. The measure of a well planted tree is whether the duff (organic matter) has been kicked out of the way first. Stomping on a lever at the bottom of the pottie, the spike opens up and the seedling is dropped into the hole that the spike has made.
Don looks pretty clean so either he was bathing in the swamp near the camp or I took the picture within about five minutes of beginning work. I remember by the end of that two week contract we were totally black and nobody bathed, firstly it attracted bugs and secondly the leaches in the swamp were these huge ribbony things that would flitter through the water toward whoever was in it.
One of my jobs was flagging the land and I would be out there marking off the planting areas for the next day long after the planters had all gone back to camp. I remember one evening I was way off in some burn site and the sun had already set, it was real spooky and I was convinced that there was some creature following me – maybe it was a bear or coyote or something, but at the time I was thinking it was a Sasquatch.
I believe this burn site was somewhere near Bancroft.
Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.
We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).
So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on
1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.
8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).
9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.
Is this a shrunken head or just a severed head? I’m kicking myself now for not having bought it. How would I have explained him at the airport?
I have a collection of various tribal artifacts. The supposed head would have been made in Hong Kong, but it would go just fine on the wall next to this great big Congo mask that I’ve got – I call it Hannibal the Cannibal because it has a mouth of jagged teeth.
On the subject of tribal, check out my malagan mask (I’ts real)
Cant imagine where some of those reflections were coming from
I saved the strangest till last in my story of the Broadview Hotel in Wichita.
As mentioned in previous posts, the Hotel is supposedly haunted. Though the topic of hauntings intests me, I am by no means a believer. I would like to find evidence of paranormal activity, but aside from the “haunted tree” in Burlington, there has been nothing that I have come across that leaves me convinced – and even the haunted tree was not really a conclusive experience – but it was certainly wierd.
Anyway, I had been returning to my room after a few drinks down in the bar and in riding one of the old brass and mirror elevators up to the third floor, I was plagued by a jerky ride and flickering light – that left me wondering whether I was about to become stuck. Looking into the mirrors all round was quite dis-orientating and for a brief second, I was left with the impression that there may have been some kind of filmy human form that appeared down one of the endless panels of reflected glass. It wasn’t really spooky, just a little unusual and as I said – I was coming back from the bar downstairs and had already beeen primed by stories of the supernatural. Anyway, I looked around to see what might be standing next to me, thinking that the reflected image was someone else in the elevator, but there was nothing there.
The power of suggestion can do some strange things to the mind. as I said, I am not a believer, by the haunted tree in Burlington really had me wondering. (Thats another story)
Led by our flapper guide we filed down a stairway into a forgotten segment of the 1920’s. We saw a tunnel (filled in at its mouth), and numerous rooms and abandoned bits of this and that. This picture is of the old boiler; an impressive old machine with doors that hung open like gaping eye-sockets.
Much of our trip beneath the hotel centered either around various stories to do with Al Capone or Clarence the ghost. As the story goes, Clarence who had been working at the hotel – or was it visiting, I cant remember, discovered his wife having an affair with one of the other guests. He is said to have shot her and then thrown himself off a balcony to his death.
As for traces of Clarence – my room (301) sure sounded haunted, the windows shook and rattled all night with a vicious Kansas wind. I got up around 01:00am to try and do something about the window, but for whatever reason, I could not locate the exact source of the noise. As for cold, I was wandering around in the dark, bumping into things and by the time I got back to bed, I was totally numb and nursing a toe that I stubbed up against the bar fridge.
As for sight of Clarence, I cant say that there was anything in there that really suggested a paranormal presence. The following morning I overheard Tony, telling the front desk something of an unusual phone call story – it sounded like the sort of thing that Clarence was known to do; just simple stuff, no chains rattling or headless apparitions.
Following the release some time ago of my book "Rockwatching; Adventures above and below Ontario", I am pleased to announce the release of my new book "Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica". It is a story of opportunity. Edgehill Press is the publisher. (www.edgehillpress.com)