[Day 226] After nearly 12 days in the Utah desert, it was time to haul ass to California. I’d out in a good amount of hours after climbing the day before, and ended up sleeping in a shitty truck stop behind some random fast food place. Not the most glamorous, but when you close all the curtains and all you see is the inside of the van, it’s pretty damn cozy.
There’s so many places I want to visit along that drive that I really had to focus my eyes on the road and not look at all the signs to cool destinations… I only stopped for a few hours a couple times; to get some work done and to cook and eat meals. Driving solo, listning to hours of podcasts (thank you @richroll for all the hours of entertainment). So many thoughts and feelings after the time in Indian Creek running through my head. Sometimes driving long distances are good for thinking, almost meditative if you’re out on the open road and not on busy ugly freeways…
Pulling up to the house I used to live in in San Clemente at 10pm felt kind of surreal. Exhausted from the days travel, I basically just parked and went to bed. Considered an evening jump in the ocean but was a little too tired to muster that energy. Tomorrow!
I'm just back from spending a few days in a small, but significant, village on the Indo-Myanmar border. Now split between India and Myanmar (Burma), this Khiamniungan Naga settlement was once famed for its fighting prowess and feared for miles around. In one raid, in 1936, it attacked the Chang Naga village of Kejok, 35 km away, and took fifty-three heads. Soon afterwards, the British launched a punitive expedition, marching across the mountains with an army of sepoys and burning the village to the ground.
Seven years later, in August 1943, an American C-46 crashed here whilst flying a 2WW mission to China. Incredibly, those same headhunters looked after the nineteen survivors for 22 days, until a British rescue party arrived from Mokokchung, 140 miles to the west. If you want to know the full story read Robert Lyman's book, Among the Headhunters. It's a ripping yarn.
Being a bit of a history geek, I wanted to see if any of the elders remembered the crash, or if parts of the plane still remained. Amazingly, some of the gaonburas, or village chiefs, did remember it, and hey presto, I found a rotor from the C-46's propeller in one of the village morungs. Even more remarkable, one of the elders, who was 'ninety plus', remembered the earlier British raid, and could recite the names of the villagers killed in the attack. When I asked about why they'd raided Kejok, the chiefs spent half an hour, perhaps more, explaining a complex web of debt, broken promises and revenge, and detailing the exact names of all those involved.
Decades later, life isn't easy here. Naga rebels hide out in the surrounding jungles, and a new border fence threatens to separate the village from 5500 hectares of their ancestral lands. Just three weeks ago, one of these rebel groups attacked the Indian Army post here - thankfully there were no casualties. Despite all this, the people here couldn't have been kinder to me, and I've come away with a notebook filled with stories. Thank you 😊❤️