Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lonely Larvae

I have some Anasazi moments that I want to post over the next few days that I didn't get to before my Honduran adventure started. The first one involves a boy that we will call Trevor (I am not allowed to share the names of the young people I have worked with).

Take an adolescent boy from his daily hours upon hours of video games, facebook, cell phone, TV, and ipod and drop him in the middle of the silent arizona desert and tell him to sit and think and you might as well have dropped him on Mars and told him to breath oxygen. The Anasazi experience is literally foreign for these kids and the more time I spend out there with them, the more aware I become of the incredible culture shock they have to wade through to before they feel safe, competent, and even happy out on the trail. There are no showers, no soft warm beds, essentially no shelter from the elements. Food takes quite a bit of time and preparation, entertainment consists of things you can make with your hands, converse about with a group of people you didn't (and usually wouldn't) chose to be with, and think about in your own, little head (which can be pretty frightening and exhausting for people who are used to escaping themselves through various forms of modern entertainment all day long). It was difficult for me, and they have to be out there for a minimum of 6 weeks straight. I tip my hat to Young Walkers. And I am grateful to them for the entertainment they provide me while they adjust.

Based on this perspective on the YW experience, you can imagine that in several weeks time, a Young Walker can get pretty. . . desperate for something new and exciting. As the boys would say, "Dude, I'm telling you, the forest does things to you . . ." (My boys band called the desert "the forest", though I have no idea why... case in point, I guess).

So, one day by the fire (lots of trail stories start out this way), I was sitting against a log carving or something. The other Trail Walker was several yards away, reading on his bed or something, and there were boys scattered around the camp. Albert, Jared, and Trevor were sitting by the fire with me, probably eating or cooking because that is mostly all that young walker boys do. At this point in the week, the boys were at the end of their weekly food packs, so Albert and Jared were eating lentils, the bane of a YW's existence. Trevor, however, refused to eat lentils, so he was "fasting" until the next day when his food pack would arrive.

Trevor was the tallest of the boys in the band, tall and lanky, with big blue eyes, and the beginnings of a light brown fro fringing his dark face (not that this is too distinguishing; all the boys have dark faces and fros due to the build up of dirt and grease on their heads). Trevor always wore his black thermals for pants and an old hideous sweater with Christmas trees on it-- a gift from a trail walker weeks previously. He was sitting indian style on the ground across the fire from me, and the last thing I was aware of was that he had collected some acorns from the ground (remember it is January, so these acorns are aged...) and had fed one to Jared, who spit it out saying, "That's rotten, Dog!" Dog is actually a term of endearment, I have learned.

So, I was focused intently on my project, whatever it was, and Trevor called to me accros the fire in a desperate sounding whisper, "Kathryn."

I looked up. He was staring, unmoving, at something on the ground directly infront of him. He was hunched over it, almost protectively.

"Kathryn!" He said more urgently, as though worried about disturbing something.


Without looking up, he said, "Kathryn, come over here"

I was like 3 feet away. I didn't exactly see a need to move. "What is it?"

"Kathryn, you need to come OVER here." He was still speaking reverently, as though the ground in front of him contained the mysteries of the universe.

I sighed and put my project down and stepped over to him. He had collected five tiny, pale larvae (of what, I have no clue). They were in a neat line on the dirt, their discarded acorn homes lying in bits nearby.

"Um, Trevor...?"

He turned his face upward, his eyes big and wild on his dirty face. "Would you like to eat one?"

I think I said something like, "Uh..."

And he said, "You should eat one." He said it like it would be a kindness to the larvae.

I said, "No thank you," and crept back to my side of the fire. I resumed my project, figuring that it was best to leave him alone.  Trevor proceeded to stage a conversation between the larvae, complete with voices in different pitches. I don't know if he ever ate one of the poor creatures himself, but he did try to feed one to Jared, who declined. Jared had been out one week less than Trevor, so maybe the "forest" hadn't gotten to him. Yet.


  1. I actually LOL'd at him using different voices for the larvae!

    I can't wait to hear more of your stories.

  2. It seems like they stop caring, to an extent, about what others think of them. Which is a really good thing. I'm guessing social norms kind of die in this environment. Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm trying to imagine what it would be like...

    I love hearing about your Anasazi experiences. Keep 'em coming!