July 28 – First portraits with Papak Kerei
The next morning I woke up early to follow the father Papak Kerei in the Jungle to check on some chickens he was keeping in another place by the river. Waking up at 6 am and jumping into your shoes to follow a Mentawai literally flying on the trunks laid down in the mud and across deep ditches and waterholes without breaking your neck while keeping up to speed with him is quite a stressful experience!
Preparing Sagu for the chicken. Sagu is grated from the tree “Sagu” and is the universal basis for food, both for livestock and the everyday meals.
After what we came back to the Uma, and I started the first shoot with him as the sun was rising. Emma and Petrus, our Mentawai assistant, helped me nail this first session down and we continued with a second shoot, in his canoe by the river. Papak Kerei was quite amused at all the equipment I had to take out, and he was obviously enjoying himself as an actor in front of the camera, giving me threatening looks, and faking to threaten me with his machete. We had a good time taking the pictures with him.
Setting up the scene
Making some adjustments with Petrus for the diffuser and speedlights
Good fun shooting with Papak Kerei
We then followed him in the forest to get the proper material to make the traditional tribe loincloths. We also stopped on the way to collect worms (called “Tamara”), which you can choose to eat alive or fire roasted…
Later this day the mother went out to catch fish in the river, so we followed her and it was a good move to bring my equipment as I could get a couple of shots of her in the river bed.
Tamara, or big fat worms that you chew alive.. yummy isn’t it?
The mother fishing in the river
Loincloths drying on a rope. This traditional wear is gotten straight from peeling the bark from one particular essence of tree
July 29 – Rorogot to Badosap
The next day we set off to Badosap, the second Uma where we would stay for the rest of the time. We started trekking in a beautiful forest, and it soon started to rain heavily. A few hours later, after a low and slippery progress due to the mud and covered in leeches, we arrived in Badosap and were welcome by the father and the mother, Pange and Teo Pange. We washed from the mud. I went out to explore the vicinity and spotted another tribe members cutting petty wood in the jungle. I called our guide and we went to meet this neighbor in preparation for a photo shoot the next morning.
The end of the day was rainy too, and we had to hope for a clearing for the next morning, looking at pigs and chickens eating their only and universal meal: sagu, right below the house.
Pig skulls kept in the house to remember the spirit of the animals