One of the craziest experiences I have ever had was in 2007 when I was backpacking through Indonesia and set my sights on spending some time with the indigenous people of the Mentawai Islands off the coast of Sumatra. It’s pretty funny when you travel and are completely unprepared for an experience like this but how everything ends up working out in the end.
I showed up to this extremely remote island with very little money, no mosquito net in this malaria rampant land and with pretty much no idea how I was going to make this happen. But despite my rather ill-prepared ways I managed to find a local medicine man who agreed to take me to his home deep in the jungle.
Everything about this trip was crazy. The 3 hour wobbly canoe ride, trekking through the densest jungle imaginable in shin deep mud, and living off of tree shavings and exotic fruits for three days. However, it was so worth it. Spending time with people living like they did hundreds of years ago was spectacular. They are a people who tattoo their bodies from head to toe and live in tiny huts on stilts hours away from another person. They are a beautiful tribe determined to keep their traditions despite the Sumatra governments attempts at trying to “civilize” them. Here are some of my favorites from those few days in the jungle.