I have been watching a show Sunday nights on the Travel Channel called "Mark and Olly: Living with the Machigenga." The show is about two British nuts who travel to Peru to live in the jungle with an indigenous isolated tribe called the Machigenga. These two guys will do whatever it takes to be accepted into the tribe's society. They live alongside the natives and take part in their daily rituals. So far the show has included the hosts using hallucinogenic drugs, learning to navigate the rapids on man made rafts, hunting for lost tribesmen, letting an entire hive of bees sting them to prove manhood, a tribal olympics, fermenting beer with their own spit, hunting monkeys, eating monkeys, and raising a monkey orphaned by their own hunting. Any show that can boast that type of lineup is must see TV as far as I am concerned.
After watching this Sunday I thought this must be what life is like for Braden. He comes into the new jungle of our lives knowing less about us than our British explorers know about their new hosts. Braden spent months in his own little cave doing his own thing. As soon as he burst forth into the light everything has been new. I wonder what must be going on in his little mind as parades of people pass through his world to hold him and talk to him. He understands us on roughly the same level as Mark and Olly understand Jose, Jacinto, and the rest of the tribe. We lay him on his back and stomach to get him to do certain rituals that are foreign to him much like Mark an Olly with the bee stinging rite of manhood. He is shown new toys and gadgets all the time. He learns to use things much like the explorers learn to use the bow and arrow or the raft. He may not eat monkey hands but soon he will be trying all manner of slimy pseudo foods. I know that Braden feels an attachment to Arica and me and he certainly loves us very much. I can't help but think though at times it must feel very much like a strange adventure to him as he journeys through these early months and years. Hopefully I can be a better guide than the Machigenga who laugh and ridicule every chance they get.