It doesn’t matter where you live or which ethnic group you belong to, whether you are a rich westerner or a Mongolian farmer. There is something that unites the whole of mankind: the adrenaline that drives people to do heart-stopping things.
From yak racing to bungee jumping with only two lianas tied to your legs, get ready to be amazed by the deeds of these indigenous “athletes”.
Indigenous Underwater Fishing – Surin Islands, Thailand
Thailand’s Moken population attracted media attention in 2004, when it prevented the tragic tsunami of 26 December by “reading” the movement of water, weather changes and animal behavior.
In this way, they were able to get safe in the mountains before the disaster. Usually this nomadic population lives on the coast. Fishermen dive to a depth of 20 meters to hunt fish or collect the delicious sea cucumbers, molluscs with important nutritional properties.
The most incredible thing? They don’t have underwater equipment, they don’t wear fins or masks. They need the sea to survive. That’s why they train the young at their best, and their underwater ability is twice that of anyone else.
Honey Hunters – Tamil Nadu, India
The indigenous population of the Alu Kurumbas in Tamil Nadu, the southeastern state of India, has given a new meaning to the concept of prayer. They are not asking to save their souls, but their lives, because every day the Alu Kurumbas have to climb a steep wall 150 meters high inside the Nilgiri Biosphere Nature Park to collect honey, challenging the fearsome and aggressive giant bees of India (Apis dorsata). For this reason, the natives venerate Magaliaman, the goddess of the forest, and honor her with days of fasting and purification rites.
The village priest chooses the most favourable time, usually at dawn. Then, the harvest begins. The climbers are protected only by hand-made ropes with jungle lianas, while hundreds of bees buzz around them. To prevent bee venom, they rely only on the smoke of burnt green leaves, kept in a basket, and on the benevolence of the gods. Despite everything, the honey collectors expect to be stung several times during the climb.
The Original Bungee Jumping – Whitsun Island, Vanuatu
Land diving on Pentecost Island, one of the 83 islands that make up the State of Vanuatu, is allowed only in the months of heavy rainfall, otherwise the lianas used for the launches would not have the necessary elasticity to keep alive the daredevils ready to leap. Despite this due clarification, it is still a dangerous and full of pitfalls “sport”. Thirty-metre-high wooden towers are built every spring.
The lianas are measured for every man who jumps from the towers. Unlike Western culture, where impact is avoided at all costs, on the island of Pentecost the goal is to get to touch the ground with the head. It is an ancestral practice due to the belief that, in this way, the land is blessed for the harvest of potatoes. This is regardless of whether the jumper survives or dies.