Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To not have

In a typical Polish coffee shop in Cracow.
Serving excellent coffee and most delicious chocolate cake.

Cold and rain outside.
After a long walk a good moment to relax and chat.

The conversation turned to an experience of a couple of years ago.
About two hours by boat from the city of Iquito in Peru, in the Amazon jungle, lived a family occupied with producing charcoal.
This family survived in most simple circumstances.
They didn't even have a house.
They lived on a large platform on poles with a palm leaves roof.

For three weeks life was shared with this family.
Sleeping and eating with them on the platform.
Bathing with them in the river.
Documenting how they made the charcoal.

They were impressive concerning their hospitality.
It was no problem for them to have a guest sharing their lives, food and privacy for three weeks.

When the charcoal was ready and put into bags, this was loaded into a small boat and the journey to the market of Iquito was made.
There, with the head of the family, a shop was visited selling all the equipment one may need when working and surviving in the Amazon jungle.
The man was informed that because he and his family had been so warm and hospitable to the photographer and had him allowed to do his work, the good man could choose anything he liked from the shop.
He could choose axes, shovels, rope, nets, chainsaws, rubber boots.
Anything and as much as he liked.

The man looked around and then at the photographer.
He was confused and didn't know what to do.
After long moments of reflection he took a small axe and informed that the thing would do.
As compensation for three weeks of warm hospitality and great collaboration.

This was astounding.
The man could have grabbed the opportunity to collect a couple of axes, several shovels, many lengths of rope, lots of nets to fish in the river, a strong chain saw and rubber boots for the whole community.
But he preferred just to have a simple, small axe.

Years after this happened the story was told in a coffee shop in Cracow, Poland.
The man from Peru did something that travels time and distance.
For us to be impressed and inspired.


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