Day 90 – Frozen fingers, bitten fingers and friendship of nine-year-old boys in the Amazone

Yesterday was the first official ice day of 2016. So when everyone woke up this morning, there was no fog in this area, but a beautiful frozen spectacle awaited us. So after doing some work, I went outside for a walk. Nearly freezing off my fingers, but still beautiful. The sun only shines for a couple hours. It feels very dark. I guess that it way the frost is white, to bring some light into the darkness.

Nature always fascinates me. Because it affects us all so deeply. In western countries we might have become very de-attached for a while now. We see nature on TV. Today I saw a bit of a documentary. One of those Planet Earth kind of documentaries. It followed a tribe in the Amazone. It feathered two boys. They are both nine years old and had to undergo a rite of passage. They had to wear gloves filled with poisonous ants. Each bite feels like a gunshot wound. The boys have to undergo the pain for ten minutes. Not just once, but a couple times in their childhood. To get used to the pain of being a hunter in the Amazone forest.

(Interesting scientific fact. Even though the pain seems intense and cruel, the poison is actually really healthy. It is supposed to prevent cancer. Turns out that the males in this tribe hardly ever get sick and live to be well beyond eighty years old.)

The next day they were invited for drinks with the head of the tribe. He was proud of the boys. They went through the test exceptionally well. What touched me most in the documentary isn’t the scary black ants or the boys crying from pain. It’s the moment in the beginning when they walked hand in hand after a soccer game talking about the pain they were about to undergo together.

“You are my best friend, right?”

“Yes, I am your best friend.”

“Did it hurt the first time?”

“Yes, it was very intense.”

“Will you help me through?”

“Yes, of course, I am your best friend.”

I don’t know how a nine-year old boy can stand the pain of gun shot wounds for ten minutes. Not just once but a couple times in their young lives. I don’t understand why you would do such a thing to a nine-year old boy in the first place. But the camaraderie between the boys is fascinating. These boys are going through the rite of passage together. Pain brings brotherhood, right? You can see how it strengthens the friendship between the boys. If both of them survive living in the wild, I am sure they will live on to be ninety-three together.

I don’t really know what the clue of my story is. Maybe that I learned once again today to appreciate nature. That the pain that nature gives, whether its frozen fingers or bitten fingers, the power of holding hands is strong. Through the bonds of friendship you can overcome any pain.

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