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Stoned Stories
These are true tales containing reference to being stoned with stones. If you're not over 18 years old do not proceed without your parents' OK.

The Real Reason You Shouldn't Smoke Grass Until You're 20 Years Old

The brain takes that long to develop. The way you think is being programmed during that time by a rapid dendritic (like roots) growth of synapses that connect experience and reality with thought and action. These brain connections work for your inner bodily functions as well as your external personality and actions. Being stoned while these connections are being made can warp you out. Take a look around you at older people who started smoking when they were kids.

The main problem kicks in concurrently with the onslaught of puberty. At this time the Pituitary Gland (which has been quietly ticking along, like a tired old pharmacist, governing the secretions in your body) suddenly goes into hyper-drive and starts dispensing all sorts of chemicals that are strong enough to make hair grow, curves appear, and certain parts take on a whole new size and importance. When you smoke MARIJUANA the first part of your head to be affected is the Pituitary Gland. This gland is trying to get you ready for life. Don't get it stoned or it's most likely to screw up. Then not only is your brain warped out, but your reproductive gear is likely to mutate as well.Girls often will then suffer from a tipped uterus, irregular periods, and/or entropic pregnancies. Boys will have a lower sperm count or a sterile one, and often experience a great lag in recovery time between orgasms. Both sexes will have a greater tendency to paranoia, schizophrenia, and weirdness. Check it out.

If you can't wait until you're 20 to start bonging, give yourself a break and at least wait until you're 18. If you're a teener and already smoking, give yourself a break and QUIT. If you're a religious Christian, Muslim, or Jew regard the biblical passage: "The sins of the father are visited upon the son". Avoid genetic damage.

Previous chapters: Chapter 1 Chapter 2

BALI – part 3

By now things were humming along smoothly with the gold and silver smiths. I had about a month to wait for most of the work on order to be completed, and so thought I would take advantage of that time to see more of Indonesia. Almost all of the grass in Indonesia was being grown in Sumatera, and since Bali had recently run out of smoke I thought this would be a good destination. The "hash trail" route, worn a foot deep by western freaks, ran from Bali by ferry to Banjuwangi in eastern Java, where one caught a bus to Jogjakarta. From there it was either bus or train to Jakarta, the nation’s capitol in the west, to catch the freighter Tamponmas that took you up the Straits of Malacca to Medan in Sumatera, the northernmost major port of Indonesia. From there one could catch a cheap boat ride to Singapore, and the continuation of the "hash trail" through Penang, Malaysia, Thailand, and beyond.

Figuring to make it a quick round-trip to Sumatera, I left most of my gear with Lend Ju and packed a toothbrush, sarong, and the last of my smoke into a little woven cloth shoulder bag that I came to name The Camel because of its resemblance to that one humped beast of burden, its ability to go long distances without a drink, and the strength to carry heavy loads . . . particularly after I had canvas reinforcing sewn to the inside of both bag and strap. Off I went with The Stick under my arm and the Camel over my shoulder for what was to be the first of many outrageously dangerous Asian bus rides.

These buses weren’t made for the comfort of 6 foot tall guys, but rather for the discomfort of as many smaller Indonesians as can be crammed into one, along with their chickens, goats, and bulk market goods. Indonesians don’t travel well. They seem prone to motion sickness. This, however, does not stop them from scarfing huge quantities of sweets and snacks prior to and during the journey. In this case, what goes down must come up . . . and hopefully not all over you.

A couple of hours outside of Banjuwangi it had just got dark when we stopped at a roadside rice house for dinner. My fellow passengers swarmed into the restaurant while I hung back and chatted a bit with the street kids who hung around the bus stop. When the crowd died down around the food counter I started to head for the restaurant, but was confronted by two Javanese guys in their late 20’s. They wanted to know where I’d come from, where I was going, and did I have any drugs in my bag. I assured them that they were asking the wrong person for drugs and started to climb the steps to the restaurant. One of them said "We think you have drugs in your bag. We are police, and grabbed me from behind by the upper left arm. The Camel was over my left shoulder. I carried The Stick tucked under my left arm, much like a British commander in an old movie would carry his riding crop. A slight amount of right-ward pressure at the front of the Stick caused its back to clamp the cop’s right hand to my upper arm. When I turned to the right and dropped into a crouch the added leverage of the stick along his forearm propelled him a good six feet from me and slam-faced him into the wall of the restaurant. I remained in a crouch, looking into a glass display case filled with candy. In the glass reflection I could see the 2 cops staring at me in stunned amazement at the force that had thrown the cop into the wall, seemingly with no effort on my part. They jabbered to each other a bit, and then slowly backed away from me and disappeared into the bus parking lot. Way to go Stick!

After rice, we all piled back into the bus and took off for Jogjakarta. A couple hours later that night another bus tried to pass us. These roads have a narrow lane going each direction, so passing another vehicle requires a little courtesy on the part of the driver of the vehicle being overtaken. Our driver, however, seemed to take being passed as a personal affront and would speed up. Eventually the other driver got lucky and passed us. This enraged our driver, who then tried to pass the interloper. No luck there. Our driver got so berzerk he started side swiping the other bus, trying to run it off the road. That’s when the passengers mutinied, and forced our driver to pull over and stop. The other bus driver interpreted this as a challenge to fight, so he pulled over too. Both drivers sprung at each other like roosters in a cockfight, but neither got to land a blow because the passengers of both busses beat them to it. They kicked the shit out of both drivers and threatened them with death if they didn’t get their act together. The other bus took off, but the passengers on my bus made our driver wait 20 minutes as a safety margin. I guess road rage is not confined to modern highways.

The books I’d read in the ‘70s said that Indonesia was made up of 13,500 islands. Last week they announced that with the help of satellite observation they’ve counted closer to 18,000. Java is only one of these islands, comprising less than 7% of Indonesia’s land mass; but it is the most populated and fertile island on earth. Jakarta (the capitol) has a population of over 12 million. Jakarta wasn’t always the capitol. A much older one is Jogjakarta (there are many spellings of this, like Yogyakarta). "Jogja" was the seat of the Mataram Kingdom. Located at the foot of the active volcano Merapi, Jogja is still the classical center for Javanese culture and arts. The Second Mataram Kingdom was the original Muslim one, being preceded by Hindu and Buddhist. The world’s largest Buddhist monument, Borobudur, was built here in the 8th Century. The Hindu Majapahit empire started at the end of the 13th century and left behind the biggest Hindu temple in Indonesia, Prambanan. Jogjakarta was also the capitol from 1946 to 1949 while the Indonesians sorted out the Dutch, and is the home of the Sultan’s Palace. This palace is laid out in a very cosmic manner, leaving nothing to chance. If you’re at all interested in horticulture or gardens, check this link to the SULTAN’S PALACE.

The bus pulled into Jogja late at night, and I was directed to a shanty cluster of guest houses down by the railroad tracks. None of these little rooms had locks on the doors, but a couple of screw-in hooks like you use to hang coffee cups and a properly placed Stick worked fine. The dudes and their girls who hung around this area were of the kind that prey on wayfarers, and we "orang putih" were prime grade white meat. (Orang means person, putih means white. Utan means jungle. Orangutan means jungle person. Mickey Mouse is referred to as Tikus Orang, or "Mouse Person"). These dudes are the kind of folk who could get you a smoke if there was one to be had. They told me that the reason there was a shortage of smoke was that the government was going to bring in a new law at the beginning of the year that provided for either death or life imprisonment for dealing or possession, and therefore many of those links in the chain to Sumatera grass were removing themselves before they themselves were removed.

"How about mushrooms?" I asked. Suni, my favorite one of the girls, said "Oh! I love mushrooms! You give me the money to go to Parangtritis now, and I’ll be back with some for you tomorrow."

Sounds ok to me. And it was. They weren’t goldtop mushrooms, they were more like Blue Meanies with a slender stem and conical cap, but very tiny. My guess is Psylocibin Subaeruginascens. Small but mighty. When I was past the main sky-pilot rush, I decided to take a walk around Jogja. I say "I decided to . . . " but it really seemed more like The Stick was suggesting it, like a dog who wanted to go walkies. Using the Stick as a cane, I let it take the lead as we cruised the main drag Jalan Malioboro down to the Palace and back. I was picking up some pretty high anxiety vibes, and figured that it was just my tripping paranoia. Paranoia or premonition? I got to thinking that it might be a good time to smoke a joint and observe the street from an out of the way spot. The Stick led me like a sniffing bloodhound back down the main drag to where there was a most bizarre sight: what looked to be a boarded up American hamburger stand, with a giant ice cream cone three stories high connected to it. It looked almost like the old Currie’s Ice Cream franchises of my California youth.

I walked around the abandoned building to the rear where there was a door leading to the stairs that ran up the inside of the ice cream cone. Apparently the lock and latch on the door didn’t work, because the inward opening door was secured by a padlocked chain to the inside wall. This left the door slightly ajar, enough to insert The Stick and lift the chain off of the spike on which it was simply hung. Up the stairs to a small room with a well concealed viewing window that let me see the main drag and ventilated the smoke over the rooftops of Jogja.

The traffic on Jalan Malioboro was everything from foot to horse to motorbike to becak (like a rickshaw), anything you can imagine that has a wheel and some that don’t. I was observing this flow when I seemed to notice it change. Wow! Am I tripping or what? The street started to empty as the flow sped up until everyone was gone. "Too much! I’ve entered a parallel universe!", I thought. And then from my left came a marching throng of young people carrying placards and shouting. They were actually student activists from a parallel university, Gadja Mada University founded in 1949. From my right came an advancing cadre of military police. They met in front of the ice cream cone and had at it. There was a lot of shouting on both sides, the students louder but copping more blows with a stick than they delivered with a placard. Not too much blood was shed, and it seemed like the battle was a bit more ritualistic than murderous. Apparently this particular university was reknown for its student protests, with the police always winning the ensuing confrontation. It was all over in about 10 minutes. What a trip.

After the carnage subsided I made my way back to the guest house and thanked Suni for the mushrooms. She was a real cutie. I asked her how to get to Parangtritis. I wanted to see where these mushrooms came from. The next day Suni put me on the right bus heading south. It took about an hour to go less than 20 miles where the bus stopped at a small river. Myself and another white guy were the only ones going to Parangtritis, so we forded the river and began the three mile walk to the village.

Upon arriving we went to check in and register with the village Chief. The Chief wrote down our passport info in his government book, and assigned the other guy to one of the village families to billet. The Chief had the only "guesthouse" and restaurant, and he put me in his nicest room.

The floors were all sand and there was a lot of palm thatching and bamboo involved in the newer structures, understandable since Parangtritis is located on the sea. Some older stone structures could be seen, still with sand floors and with their back door buried in a sand dune. Parangtritis has been a holy/cosmic place for the locals since before the Mataram Kingdoms, with a number of caves used for centuries as meditation spots. These caves are in the ocean-looking cliff face that cups the village against the sea. I asked The Chief where the mandi was. A mandi is the toilet/bathroom. The Chief said that the village had no running water but they did have a permandian, a set of pools and bathes. He took me to see the banana patch that served as a toilet, and then to a most beautiful series of pools. The water comes off of the cliff through an aquaduct of bamboo tubes, ending up spouting from the ends of dozens of tubes into a natural shallow rock pool. The village water supply is collected from the spouts in buckets and carried on the head, or two on a yoke, back home. Showers are taken under the spouts, and that water flows into a large swimming pool for the people. That pool flows into another large pool that is home to the main food for the village: fish. The water from the fish pool flows into one that grows edible aquatic plants, and then that water is used to irrigate the village gardens.

The Chief suggested that I follow the water to its source via the narrow footpath that wound up the cliff face. That’s when I could see how all of the little catchments were channelled with bamboo towards the main pools. At the top of the cliff was a small plateau, and then a further climb that I saved for a later day because I just had to sit in the ancient pergola that was built there to overlook the village below and the sea beyond.

I was around eight hundred feet up. To my left the cliffs wrapped out into a sheer 2000 foot headland, to my right they formed a diminishing curve out of sight and out to sea. In front of me I could see three ocean currents meeting (I’ve since learned that there are actually five), and the waters changing from green to blue to clear to black. Below, I could see the wind patterns that play with the sand of the cresting migratory dunes that have swallowed and released Parangtritis many times over many centuries. Sometimes just the face of a sand covered building can be seen, with protruding rooftops sinking into the sand as they disappear towards the sea. The 800 feet of air space between me and the dunes held birds trying to navigate the ever-changing wind vortices. Sometimes they’d just drop like a stone for a couple hundred feet, wings flapping until they could bite some purchase on a different current. I’ve never seen anyplace that has so much going on in so many different directions. A continual power cyclone. No wonder it’s considered a holy place, and a home for strong magic.

I descended the cliff, had a swim in the pool, and headed for the beach. I used to be a lifeguard and Olympic trials swimmer, but I wouldn’t consider entering those waters even with a life jacket on, even knee deep. I found out that ankle deep was max for most locals, and that was during their annual ceremony to honour Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, the Goddess of the South Seas. This is the spot where she lives, a fact known by the Javanese since before the time of the Mataram Kingdoms, and anything that enters these waters she considers to be an offering and takes. This partially accounts for the village fish pond, rather than the village fisherman. TheSecond Mataram Kingdom (1584 – 1601) was founded by Penembahan Senopati, who was a Muslim. Kanjeng Ratu Kidul was his wife. It was sort of like the old formation of the House of Windsor. The new king married the goddess, like Islam married Animism. Her marriage to him was a pledge to protect all the kings of the Mataram Dynasty, and she’s been married to every one of them ever since. Even though the color green is significant to Muslims, Parangtritis is not the place to wear it. This is Kanjeng Ratu Kidul’s territory.

I returned home to The Chief’s place, and went to sleep with the sounds of that colliding surf and the susurration of the sands. The next morning while seated at a front table for breakfast a little girl approached with a wooden tray slung around her neck. The tray held little cones of bamboo leaf filled with a dozen or so mushrooms each. I spent a dollar, bought four cones, and had them cooked into an omelette. Well. Fresh is best. Within a half hour I was on my back on my bed in my room in sky-pilot mode, ready to launch. An hour later I was viewing a needle beam of light that poked its way through the thatched roof and centred upon my third eye pituitary gland. Welcome back, as I viewed the non-colliding swirl of dust motes and grasped the universe.

Out to the front table again and a cup of tea. A few minutes later a herd of a couple dozen or so Western freaks walked into the village to register with The Chief. He agisted them, and two were allowed to stay here in his guest house. These two put their gear away, and then came out for a cup of tea. We got to talking, and they joined my table. I asked how such a mob of them had happened to descend on the village all at once. The Chief had told me it was the biggest influx of Westerners they’d seen on a single day. Apparently some hippy in Jogja had put together an underground mushroom tour through the losmans, and this was his first bus load, mostly white males.

As these lads got themselves squared away, one by one they came back to The Chief’s and joined the table, adding tables like a train until there were 14 of us all seated together. Since I was the oldest kid on the block, and at the head of the table, they were all asking about things to see and where are the mushrooms. The little girls were all in school, so they’d have to wait until tomorrow for their fun guy.

We were all sitting there grooving on the tranquillity of the place when in the distance was heard the sound of an approaching motor bike. It was the only motor that could be heard in the village and seemed as out of place as a toll booth on a merry-go-round. A few guys remarked on how THAT sound really broke the mood of the village. Some started to speculate on what you could do to try and keep motor bikes out of Parangtritis. Tiger traps, stretched wire, tacks in the road, etc. were all bandied about. With a clarity into universal principles that sometimes favours the totally tripping, I ventured that an easier way might be to simply concentrate on the spark generated by the bike’s sparkplug, identify with it and the sound it produces, then withdraw oneself and the sound from the equation, thus silencing the motor bike’s engine.

 

The looks on their faces could be translated as "Huh? Say what?"

"Like this", I said, and a few moments later the bike started to sputter and chug, eventually backfired, and rolled to a dead stop right in front of The Chief’s. We all stared at the driver as to no avail he belaboured the kick-start. I mentioned that the continual brrrrrruuppa of the kick-start was also annoying as it was right in front of us, and that I was going to let him go. On the next kick the bike started, and left.

And so it was on. Everyone voiced their intrigue with what had just happened. Coincidence? Hallucination? Magic? I explained in that lucid tone, that only happens when the Voice runs through you, that everything we hear is made up of only 7 sounds. You can begin with the 7 notes do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti , and that leads us back to do. I’ve found a little song that helps me remember these, and it goes like this:

DO – a beer, it takes dough to buy a beer.

REY’s a guy who buys me beer.

MI, myself, I like a beer.

FA’s how far I’ll go for beer.

SOL! let’s have another beer.

LAger is my favorite beer.

TI? No thanks, I’ll have a beer

And that leads us back to beer.

If you listen to all the sounds around you, you’re hearing the "Maya" of sound: 7 notes being played at different bass, treble, volume, etc., and being played on 7 different instruments, which are:

WATER - running, dripping, tinkling

BELL RINGING – glasses clinking

CRICKET CHIRPING - or a gate creaking, a hinge squeaking

SANDALS SLAPPING – people clapping, wings flapping

BACON FRYING - rain, cellophane crinkling, trodden dry leaves, shrimp snapping

HEART BEATING – drums, thunder

BREATH WHISTLING - the wind, whispering

These are the sounds of "Gaiia" if you like, the vocals of a single being embodied in this planet, and imbeded in the life of all 5 worlds (air,earth,water,fire,wood). Explosions and motors are the sounds of man and his sophomoric ego.

This time it wasn’t just the look on their faces, a few actually said "Huh? Say what?".

"Well," says I the fun guy, "if we all arrange our chairs so that we face each other down this table, sit upright with both feet on the ground and hands relaxed on the armrests of our chairs, we will create a grid that can produce some interesting results, including the answer to what has just happened with the motor bike."

At this point The Chief motioned to me that it might be a good time for all of us to order something from the kitchen, so we had tea and bites all around as general conversation broke out regarding the impending experiment. By the time we’d all slaked our thirst a few of the local dudes showed up across the street and went into a little hut. After a while they emerged and watched us goof on.

"OK, let’s line up", I says. It was like watching some bizarre game of stationary musical chairs. Every time we’d get 8 to 10 guys lined up in their seating the pressure from those not joining would blow the system apart. Someone would cross their legs, rock to one hip, clutch folded hands over groin, etc. Eventually I intervened, directing each person’s legs arms and back, getting 11 or 12 of them in line before the system would collapse. When we’d got that far I declared that anyone who won’t make the final adjustment has to leave the table . . . no hard feelings, but you’re holding us back, agreed? Unanimous.

It took about 15 minutes before all of us could sit perfectly still facing each other in this quadrangle and hold it for a few minutes. The neatest time was the one before we all made it to The Still Zone. When we’d all been able to sit still in posture and look at each other, they all in unison crossed their arms over their breasts (solar plexus). Since everyone was looking at everyone else this unrehearsed unified action caused everyone to crack up laughing . . . at which time their hands in unison returned to their chairs’ armrests. When they all saw THAT in unison they cracked up again and their hands returned to the sternum cross, and they cracked up again . . . and again until this motion wore itself out and we were all left seated still, feet on the floor, lined up. Now let’s go find those 5 sounds. We would locate each of the 7 "instruments" and hold it in our attention until we had identified all 7. When that happened a stillness descended over Parangtritis that was more than pleasant.

No matter where you are, even naked in the darkest hole of solitary confinement, if you listen hard you can find these sounds. When you’ve been able to locate each one in your space, the space will go dead quiet. It’s from this quiet zone that you can exercise a bit of control. The power’s in the brakes, not the accelerator.

While sitting in that Still Zone if one of us did something to break his concentration, like thinking or doubting, a rooster would crow somewhere in the village, and we’d all look at the "offender" . . . who would blush or fuss, say "sorry" with a sheepish grin. We’d then all re-identify the 7 sounds and re-enter the Still Zone.

The pressure to be still in unison is intense, and so one by one they dropped out and went to their new beds, exhausted and laughing. Those remaining would rearrange the tables and chairs to tighten up the quadrangle and start again.

In stories like these, this is where words break down. Two sterling examples were: at the end of the session it was explained to me that the guy who seemed the most visibly blown away was French and didn’t speak a word of English, but understood every word said over this 5 or so hour period. The other one actually levitated and I had to stand on his foot to keep him from rising out the thatched window towards Arcturus.

The next morning a couple early risers joined me for coffee. We were all talking about yesterday’s experience and how quiet the village was and how still the space we’d entered. I explained that as the morning wore on the others would awake and their own personal doubts would start to make them wonder and then worry about the validity of yesterday’s experience. Soon another of the lads walked in. The ones already here immediately engaged him in conversation about yesterday’s experience. He said that after a good night’s sleep he wasn’t so sure that he’d really experienced what he thought he had. At that moment we heard the approach of a motorbike coming into Parangtritis. A bit later another lad surfaced and was also questioned by those there. He said that in retrospect it was probably that he was tired from the journey to Parangtritis and a little out of it from the joint he’d smoked, and so he put the experience down to his imagination. At that moment we heard a much larger motor than a bike’s, and a big old army truck lumbered into the village. A while later the last of the lads surfaced and when questioned about yesterday’s experience he cast a somewhat frightened look at me and claimed that he must have been hypnotised. At that moment an old DC 3 flew low enough over the village to panic the chickens and set the roosters crowing. The quotation "before the cock crows thrice you shall deny me" (J.C. – The New Testament) crossed my mind.

I’d noticed that across the path from The Chief’s were the same group of local guys that had gathered yesterday to watch us white fools at play. I went over and said good morning and ordered tea for all of us to be delivered from The Chief’s. I asked them about the mushrooms and they said that five years ago some Australian guy had stayed in the village for a couple weeks. In his wanderings in the hills above Parangtritis he’d come across cows, and then the mushrooms. He brought some back to the village and told the people that they could probably sell them to other tourists such as himself. They said it was always amusing to watch the tourists tripping.

"Have you ever tried eating them?" I asked.

"Oh nooo! We are good Muslims and would never eat anything that grew out of shit. It would not be halal. We smoke them!" was their reply.

Smoking shrooms? This I had to see. They took me into the hut behind us. It was pretty dark in there but eventually my eyes adjusted. They laid on the table a 10" x 15" sheet of what looked like yellow blotter paper from the old days of fountain pens. It was very thick, the antithesis of a Zig-Zag. They covered the paper with a thin layer of the harsh local black tobacco. Two guys grabbed handfuls of mushrooms that were drying in a string bag hung from the wall, and rubbed them between the palms of their hands, crumbling them all over the tobacco. A smell of ammonia filled the hut. When the layer of shrooms was thick enough they rolled the whole thing up into a cone that would have made Bob Marley weep. They lit the end and smoked it like a chillum. Taking a big hit made the tobacco and mushrooms burn; after the hit, the paper ignited. Pretty cool, not having to smoke the paper. The effect was much milder than eating them, but still pretty good . . . good enough to crack us all up as we watched the tourists at The Chief’s eating their mushroom omelettes. These locals were right into mental communication. I mentally asked them what they thought of us tourists and they flashed a picture of a herd of goats.

I stayed in Parangtritis for another week, doing "barefoot doctor" stuff with my supply of antibiotics and medicines, and smoking shrooms with the boys. One day they brought me a kid about 14 years old from the highlands who had nearly severed his penis with a machete while opening a coconut a couple days ago. I told them that this was beyond my skills and that he had to see a doctor. They said they couldn’t send him to a doctor because the trip to Jogja cost $3 and the doctor cost $20. It’s amazing how cheaply one can become a local hero. I hope he ended up naming one of his kids after me.

During the week more tourists had arrived on the mushroom tour. One evening after sunset as we were all having cups of tea and raving at The Chief’s the whole village suddenly went silent. The murmur of "manku, manku . . ." ran through the village, and then in walked this most amazing looking man. Dressed in black with wild almost Rasta hair, black mangrove root snake bracelets on each tattooed arm, wearing two strands of beads and juju charms, he walked directly over to me and sat down. It was the local manku, or witch doctor. The Chief brought tea and stayed to interpret our conversation, since the manku spoke neither English nor Indonesian. Talk about cosmic raves, this was a beauty.

I asked what brought him out at this time of night. He said he’d been meditating in his cave when it began to vibrate and make a sound somewhat like a motorbike. He thought he’d come down to the village and see who was here, on his turf so to speak.

The whole village was crowded around The Chief’s, and the manku started asking them questions.

He then told me that The Stick needed to continue on its journey or it was liable to take root here in Parangtritis. He told me I had an aptitude as a healer and that the villagers were thankful. He also told me that I talk too much. He said that it wasn’t necessarily a good thing to be opening windows and doors into the realm of magic for those yet unripened souls who happened to be on mushrooms. The image I got was like running too much electricity through a very small fuse. He said that unless I was prepared to look after them for the period of days or weeks it takes to assimilate and adjust one’s personal world to this kind of knowledge, it was best to keep my mouth shut. The dictum "Know, Will, Dare, Keep Silent" began to make a lot more sense. He took one of the snake bracelets off of his arm and gave it to me. He said I should wear it and not speak unless absolutely necessary. I asked him for how long I should do this. He said "Until the bracelet falls off".

I asked him where he lived. He said he would take me to see the area, but not the actual cave that was his home. Nobody was allowed there. He said I was to meet him the next morning at the pergola above the pools. He then finished his tea, said goodbye to all, and walked off into the night.

It was a beautiful morning and still cool as we followed the path climbing from the pergola to the hills beyond. After nearly an hour we reached a big sign on the path that said in English, Indonesian, and a local dialect: Halt! Do not pass here! Communist rebels past this sign can endanger your life!

Just past the sign the path entered into a labyrinth of strewn boulders bigger than houses, and zigzagged its way through a series of ambush spots and chicanes, emerging at the base of a short plateau. The top of this plateau was the top of the sheer cliff prominatory I’d seen running out to sea earlier from the pergola. On the other side of that promontory was a small goat path that switchbacked its way down the 2000 foot cliff face to the rocky shore below. The manku led me down this tiny track to the bottom where we turned right and walked along the rocks until we came to the point of the promontory and the mouth of a gigantic cave. Inside the cave lived a small community of people, the only troglodytes I’ve ever encountered, the palest Asians I’ve ever seen, looking perhaps a tad inbred. The ocean surge broke continually on the seaward side of the cavern, producing a booming heartbeat sound that never stops. Weirdest folks I’ve ever laid eyes on.

After the manku had finished with whatever it was he had to do (some ritualistic healing thing it seemed) we climbed back up the goat path and went to eat at a little cluster of huts. The people there were very happy to see the manku, as the cave dwellers had been. There were two items that were sure to be found in every hut on the plateau. The first is a telephone. Not a cordless one, but various styles of the heavy black plastic ones that were used in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The phone line ran for a foot or two from the phone and ended in a frayed cut. That didn’t seem to stop the people from using them to talk to each other. One told me the manku also had such a phone in his cave, which was good as it made it easier to contact him if he was needed.

The second item in each hut is a rubber/plastic doll, sort of like a "Betsy Wetsy" from the 1950’s with eyes that close when you lay the doll on its back. Some said "Mamma" if squeezed. Although there were different makes of dolls they were all of this genre, and all were missing at least one limb. I never did find out what they were used for, but they gave me a creepy feeling.

The manku returned me to the Communist warning sign in time for me to make it back to the village before dark. I gave him a Queensland boulder opal with a hole drilled in it as a momento, which he seemed to like. He was intrigued by the play of colors and added the stone to one of his necklaces.

The next morning I bid farewell to all, grabbed The Camel, stuck The Stick into the gap between my new bracelet and my arm, and walked back down the path on my way to Sumatera.

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