Saturday, December 15, 2007

The big boat

We arrived in Setulang on a Saturday, and a bunch of the men were working on a boat for next year's district-wide race. The boats are carved out of a single log, and they're long enough to carry up to 50 people

A lot of the guys wore these traditional rattan hats, which are supposed to be strong enough to protect your head from knife wounds on the battlefield. "People used to be bad," one boatmaker told me. "They fought all the time. Now you can come visit our village, and nobody tries to kill you."

The most common tool looked like a tiny hoe. People use it to chop directly toward their knees, which made my inner Girl Scout nervous. But in a culture that historically relies on blowpipes, machetes and palmknives, these guys are pretty good with a sharp instrument.


michele said...

your girl scout reference cracked me up. I remember being taught at GS camp approximately 49,000 safety rules for using a tiny whittling knife. and here are these boat builders using no safety gear whatsoever - and unprotected toes propped up next to their chopping tools.

at least they have knife-stopping hats on in case a homicidal maniac happens along.

Murphy said...

Owen and I are really enjoying these trip pictures. What a great adventure! Except for the stinkin' stolen computer. That's a drag.

kopisusu2 said...

If the Girl Scouts ever sharpened their knives they might not have to be so cautious with them! I remember how nervous the leaders always looked whenever we had a sharp object in our hands.

I'm glad you guys are enjoying the photos, Murph! We'll have to take another trip soon ... maybe to some mountains or ocean.