It’s suspected that there are only about a hundred undisturbed cultures left in this world.

An alarming inevitability, but done in the name of progress? How small this planet has become though; what with only a few untouched corners left, what a shame that our curiosity has to affect indigenous, and until fairly recently, impervious, cultures that might rather be left to their own devices. In this ever-increasing melting pot of humankind, I fear that these natural, exotic ingredients will eventually become as synthesized as the rest of us. But would they be better left as a rare delicacy? *** Trying to shave the middle of her head with a Bic razor instead of the finely sharpened instrument her peoples had used for centuries, the Metyktire woman’s frustration was becoming increasingly evident. Late again. No doubt both sun and moon gods were opposing each other in their fiery skies, but then, she no longer took any notice of them; the white man’s jewellery on her wrist proving to be much more accurate now that she actually had a schedule. How could they have been so stupid for so long? “Ouch… ya monkey-fucker!” She said, her tribe long since having updated the archaic Kayapo language. One of her husbands was circumspectly trying to attach his penis sheath, a requirement now since a number of them had unfurled on the stage, but his large lip-plate prevented him from seeing where to pin it properly. Maybe, he thought, I should get one with a zip. Hardly fashionistas, but he never did trust any of his wives’ opinions as to how he’d ever presented his penis in any circumstance and wondered if he should peep in one of the outsiders’ huts; bear his soul again to one of the frozen slices of river that hung on the walls there. “No, better not, that always makes the white female squeal like a speared boar.” he said thinking that the shiny object could only bare one soul at a time; his obviously frightening the celestial life out of hers; emerging behind it from outside her window like a wandered shadow, as it tended to do.

But he was sick to his back tooth of walking down to the river for an unrewarding murky view that was by comparison inadequate. Perhaps he should ask for one of his own; in fact a bigger slice of the river might be nice. Yes, then he wouldn’t have to dangle his manhood all over the place. Number twelve daughter could do with one too; constantly dilly-dallying trying to see her rear-end, pulling and twisting the hair she’d refused to shave now, into different styles as she always did these days. “Mom… does this banana leaf make my butt look fat?” She said. “Never mind your ass,” her mother said. “Wrap that tree bark around your leg and practice limping; the more pathetic we look, the more spondoolies we get... do you want that new Nintendo game or what?” Returning to the task of shaving her head, Mama considered she might do under her arms, her legs even. After all, the female travellers with hair like fire and the great white bear’s from the higher elevations had no hair at all on their bodies; skin as velvety as a petal blooming for the first time in the dawn dew. Enviable complexions that made the tribesmen stare with flaccid tongues drooped over their lip plates while their penis sheaths, by contrast, begged to be exchanged for extra large sizes. The sharp object was angry with her now, obviously; didn’t glide smoothly without the can of clouds. But there was none of that left. Somehow, although she couldn’t know for sure, she thought that number three husband might be responsible; his chin looking all smooth and shiny amid the small fragments stuck to it to stop his own bleeding. Yes, it’d worked much better at first, but now the gods were punishing her for deserting them; set her skin on fire, brought her scalp up in lumps even worse than those of the bastard mosquito before she’d been given a see through piece of material that staved them off better than the smoke of the fire had ever done. “Shit! What the hell was that?” she said, as her nose seemed to explode even worse than the god that threatened their village when it'd gotten angry on the odd occasion, who lived on the mountain that the travellers seemed not to be scared of at all though; going up in their droves to laugh in its face, as they did. But if the truth were known, she’d felt grumpy for a while. The whole tribe had, sweating, vomiting, and unable to do any real work, as they’d been. But hunting and fishing weren’t important now anyway; dancing up a different kind of sweat a much easier living; the metal and paper they were given easily exchanged for supplies in the nearby village that was getting bigger and bigger all the time. Taking one of the thin white things that felt as soft as a goat’s teat, she dabbed her nose delicately like she’d seen the white females do. Lighter than air, hardly anything to them yet multifunctional and softer even than the white trillium leaves they’d used to wipe their arses with for millennium. No, they didn’t need to shimmy up trees for a fresh supply every time; a whole hut full of them, some even had a hole in them that fit nicely on a branch near the large holes in the ground that’d recently been built on the outskirts of the village. Yes, caressing her face, she enjoyed the luxury of the tissue despite barely being

able to feel it on her weather-beaten skin. And I don't get a rash, she thought feeling the smoothness between her legs, but being met with stickiness instead. “Ugh,” she said, still not understanding exactly how, like they'd said she would, she’d come to predict that particular unwelcome visitor. Using the same tissue to wipe the blood away, she couldn’t help but think that it felt strange not to be with child. But fourteen of them in as many years were quite enough by anyone’s standards, she thought, folding in the flab of her belly like the women whose souls were left laying around the megalithic monuments they called hotels. Wonder if I can ever look like that? Yes, the small berry that they’d said would stop her from having a fifteenth certainly worked its magic even if it didn’t taste very good. And they’d promised too, that soon she wouldn’t need to bleed so much either; yes, they’d take care of that annoying little problem for all young women; stop the blood from running down their legs unexpectedly, they’d said, if the translator was to be trusted. No end to these medicine men’s skills. She most certainly looked forward to that; no amount of trillium petals wadded together had ever done that job effectively either, plus she wouldn’t have to contend with the dangers of spiders crawling up her crack. Sitting in the corner on a stool made of coconut shell and branches, a dried up prune of a great, great, hag of a grandmother clicked her tongue in and out of the spaces in her mouth as she observed her peoples. It might’ve been the last time she’d be able to make that noise; a bucket of teeth arriving in the coming dawns, she’d been told, would mean that she’d be able to chew meat again, well after the one or two she had remaining were somehow yanked from her mouth. Ingeniously festooned with dark elaborate body art, butt-cheeks included, she felt it dishonourable that her tribespeople should have to cover themselves up so. But nudity was unacceptable to the pale faces, and it was important to please them just as it’d been for the gods before them. At least though, they didn’t ask for anyone to be sacrificed. Just as well, she thought, a virgin girl in any Kayapo village hard to find these days, given that theirs was the only flower the white man plucked. It seemed like only yesterday they’d stood aggressively, magnificently, arrows and spears aimed high at the sky. No, never in her forty-two-cycles would she ever have imagined their tribal dances would be made a mockery of such as they were every night in the grand palaces of the white man. In fact, she thought it pretty much was yesterday. But then time had no meaning to her outside of the differences in seasons; knowing when the rains were due and quickly followed by the hot, dry season, their onset gauged by her ancient bones and by watching the animals and the birds. Apparently, the flat smooth object held in her hand could show in an instant exactly how many suns had passed since the outsiders had first arrived bearing gifts, but instead she used it to grind down herbs and the white trillium flower, if not only to displease the false god trapped inside of it that was always singing to her granddaughter. The ancient song she sang herself, as they set out through the jungle, foretold destruction. Still, she enjoyed the sweetness of the food they brought back, even if it did keep her awake all night and made the children swing from

the trees like the monkeys used to. But she wondered just how long had it been since the white man had cut down most of the precious trillium trees, gouged up the soil and took it away in their mighty vessels. How long had the strange villages been around now, some of which her granddaughters were starting to live in, awaiting commands just like the roaring beasts that stood silently when they too were dismounted? Yes, tamed well, Granny thought. Impressive though, she’d had to admit, never able to manage that level of control even with a monkey, her hand bitten instantly if she’d nothing to offer it, and sometimes even when she did, let alone get them to do any work for her. But they too had changed, no longer interested in simple fruit and nuts or bony fish heads; the white man’s provisions oft discarded, feeding their increasingly fat bellies as they lurked in the near distance, respectfully waiting for leftovers. What a waste, for the pale faces could carry that food in one of their mighty beasts in fifty blinks of a lizard’s eye instead of the good day’s trek it would take any one of them to go share the wealth even through the new passages that led them there in straight lines. But then other tribes didn’t need half a boar side anymore either, why some of them even had mighty carriages of their own. The crushed petals stuck to her skin looked pretty though, she thought, generously slewing the flowers onto the cranny terrain of her body no longer needing to use the sap found beyond the bark, and grateful for that small mercy too; a bastard to get off both tree and skin. The potions had helped with the monkey and goat bites though, she had to admit, good for something at least; thus far not having any effect on the deep, deep lines of her face, as had been promised. But then, many promises had been broken. *** It’s too late for many African countries, perhaps, Asian too, probably, no great wall of separation in the form of rainforests anymore, that much is very plain to see; rapidly depleting and inadequate camouflage no longer a defence against flying machinery and other modern technology that facilitates the peering of our rudely poked noses. How distressing is this? At what cost do we do it? Is it right? Maybe not, but we do it anyway. It is within our nature to explore, to understand, to satiate our inquisitiveness, and now that our intelligence has evolved as an effective safety shield against what is left of the unknown, there’s no stopping us. We’ll have to move on to other planets to keep the assimilation going. But our intent is good, isn’t it? We just want to help out, don’t we? Nevertheless, scientific exploration can soon turn to moneymaking schemes that bring multinational companies to jump on what very few native bands’ wagons there are left, stirring them into their corporate world as sugar dissolved in a cup of tea. Inseparable. Or is that really the case? No, perhaps every aspect of humankind is alike after all, everybody manipulating the other, all of us opportunists. Perhaps. But who is teaching whom? Is this right, or is it wrong? Who has the more to give? Do these primitive people actually know more than

we do about the quality of life? Good question, when one considers the benefits of tera preta for example; the charcoal based soil used by ancient Amazonian to create permanently fertile agricultural lands in the rain forest and a serious consideration as a means to fight global warming and for meeting energy demand. But sadly, the way I see it is, that people aren’t really interested in other people's crap, especially in the extreme; the people that don’t really exist outside of a National Geographic documentary. What do they contribute anyway? They’re no better than a troop of monkeys, nothing more to offer than a passing amusement factor for the rest of us. No, for we’re only interested in exotic tales, exotic in the new, true sense of the word; exclusive islands, thrilling safari adventures, uncovering the secrets of the more magnificent worlds from which came ancient pyramids and the like... well, as long as we have our luxury hotels to go back to that is. We should just open zoos up for them, perhaps. Shouldn’t these people be brought into the 21st century, even pay taxes like the rest of us for the privilege of living on this planet? Of course not, the tax payer will end up paying for them, no doubt, and as it should be... I mean... weren’t they only happy through the ignorance that we’ve taken from them? So is it hopeless? Will the remaining ancient cultures inevitably be integrated, their earliest traditions and skills stolen or abused for our frivolous western entertainment like the small community of the Meytktyre Tribe of eighty-seven people or so discovered in 2007? Will gods scream in the skies; souls of thousands of years of proud ancestors spew up all over them to rain down on us all? Hmmm... perhaps 21/12/12 will tell. The end
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