The Wild Wild North

On our first trip to a village in the remote jungles of North Kalimantan, we kept looking around for the huts. In all the other interior villages that we had visited in Papua and Ecuador, there were always traditional shacks dotting the landscape built out of natural materials like palm branches and bamboo. Instead we were surprised to see brightly-painted clapboard wooden houses with tin roofs, neatly defined yards, and general stores selling goods.

The more we walked the dusty streets, the more familiar it seemed, like this was a scene I’d witnessed before. Then it hit me: it felt like we were in a bustling Wild West town! Instead of of cowboy hats and bonnets, the locals wore colorful wide-brimmed hats as they carried sacks of rice and vegetables. They rode motorbikes instead of horses, carried machetes instead of guns, and even had water buffalo instead of cows. The occasional satellite dish or solar panel was the only disruption to the Wild West scene.

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Just like in the Wild West, traveling to these places is really tough! Luckily, MAF offers a modern solution to this problem. We’ve had a blast traveling to many different villages in Kalimantan and getting to experience the unique culture here.