End of the rifle

The plane banked and swung low over the treetops — so low, we all dove for cover, thinking the pilot must be suicidal. (Has Al Qaeda begun hijacking Piper Cubs?) Its engine roared and sputtered like a teenager’s badly tuned GTO, and we held our breaths as it banked again and went into a steep climb. Maybe this is some kind of mating flight, I thought, peering at the cockpit through the scope of my .338 Winchester.

The plane leveled off at about five hundred feet above the forest canopy and began to circle. I think we were all getting a little peeved — we’d paid $8,000 a head for a quality, wilderness hunting experience, and goddamn it, we wanted some peace and quiet! But the next thing we knew, four parachutes were opening in the sky above us.

“You’re not going to believe this, guys,” I said, still looking through the Trijicon AccuPoint. Jim grabbed his .30-06 and followed suit. Four chairs were floating down toward us. “What the hell?”

As the engine’s roar died away into the distance, three of the parachutes lodged in the treetops around the camp, dangling their strange cargo just out of reach. I headed for where I thought the fourth had come down, forgetting about grizzlies for the moment as I smashed through the alder.

There it was, sitting slightly askew in the middle of the thicket. It was a camp chair, all right, with a light wood frame supporting long strips of some kind of leaf. Additional items were tied across its arms: a rolled-up hammock, a long, bamboo tube and a bundle of dart-like things. A blowgun?

When I unrolled the hammock — cunningly constructed of vines and plant fibers — a piece of paper fell out. The message looked as if it had been typed on an actual typewriter.

“Dear Friends,” it read, “We send you these gifts as tokens of our goodwill. We bring good news about the grace of God and his victory over the giant anaconda, which will bring peace and love to your war-torn lands at last. Welcome to civilization!” It was signed simply, “The Waorani.”

Someone had added a postscript in pen at the bottom of the page. “P.S. Awfully sorry to inform you that the subsurface rights to the forest in which you have been hunting belong to Shell Oil, who will begin bulldozing for an oil sands mine on Monday. Peace.”

Based on a real dream, after seeing the movie End of the Spear (official website with trailers and merchandiseRotten Tomatoes). For a series of articles exploding the myth of the pacified Waorani, see here.

Tags: End of the Spear, Waorani, Waodani, Huaorani

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