I recently had the good fortune to visit some of the small villages of the indigenous communities in Wayanad, North Kerala. Together with our GM Subi from Wayanad Wild, our Chef and a social worker we climbed the hills in the forested areas of the Wayanad plateau. People here still live a lot from the forest, collecting roots, honey and herbs for their daily needs. The create amazing bamboo traps for fishing in the rivers and I was told that earlier they were great archers too. Today the law forbids them to hunt.
Their way of live is rapidly changing. Forests have been turned into Plantation, devoid of the food they used to find. National parks have sprung up, restricting their movements to collect honey, herbs and bark for the food and indigenous forms of medicine.
Lately their way of using plants and barks for curing has caught the attention of scientists now probing into their secrets of the forest. Unfortunately their lack of school book knowledge will eventually prevent them from benefitting of their old age tradition and art to cure.
To me it was a touching encounter with people that live on the earth around them and me a traveller from across the oceans. Their smile and shy laughter turns as always into exercise of humility for me. Communication is nothing but a smile and the words of the social worker in her broken english.
Walking trough their simple village, Standing Rock comes to my mind, where even today the erstwhile owners of the land still have to fight to get their rights respected. And I wonder how much the situation differs from the land across the sea.