Last weekend marked the end of Amerindian Heritage month. To celebrate, we attended a festival in the Amerindian village of St. Cuthbert.
We left at 7am on the back of a 4 wheel drive pick-up truck crammed with 13 people sitting on wooden planks held up by crates. We drove up the Linden-Soesdyke Highway for about 20 minutes before turning off into a narrow inconspicuous dirt road for another hour through the forest.
The dirt road quickly turned into a bumpy sandy road, which made it seem like a roller coaster ride with no seat belts or guard rails and no one to sue if you fall out. At one point the sand was so uneven that the truck was driving at a 30 degree angle. Occasionally a few passengers popped out of their seats from speeding over the jagged terrain. Seeing this forced the rest of us to grip tightly on the side of the truck, only letting go to tuck in our exposed arms from the outstretched tree branches.
Shortly after we arrived at the village, it started to downpour. This turned out to be a blessing because it kept the rest of the day cloudy and cool. We spent the day meeting people from the village, volunteers from a UK organization, and other white people. An intoxicated Amerindian man gave me a wooden sculpture he carved of an indigenous god who’s supposed to bring me peace. I would like him to give one to each one of the students in my school. We drank and danced. We were fed until our bellies protruded and we couldn’t eat anymore. I tried a soup with pieces of chicken feet in it, but passed on the maggots (a delicacy in the village).
Since the village had no electricity, we let the sun dictate our day and left shortly before dusk. Due to the long bumpy ride and some beverage consumption, one of the passengers couldn’t take it anymore. He knocked on the side of the truck three times signaling for the driver to stop. Then two men and a woman hopped off the truck and peed on the side of the sand road. The rest of us sat awkwardly in the back of the truck not knowing where to look except up.
We continued our drive back and it was now dark. The road was narrow and trees were a foot from either side of us with the thick branches hovering right above our heads creating a tunnel. The wind was cool against our skin, the speed of the truck was invigorating, and the landscape illuminated by the truck’s headlights was picturesque. I felt like I was traveling through a cave of trees; it was surreal. As we sped down the trail, I felt completely liberated from all the frustrations and annoyances of that week.