On the past, present, and future of the pygmy Mbuti people of northeastern Congo. Rosen reports on the ground, in the forest:
“A trip like this may seem strange to you. You could reasonably accuse us of a kind of exoticism. But people travel for lots of reasons. There’s beach tourism, sex tourism, wine tourism. This trip, for me, offered something a lot more interesting: a chance to feed our long fascination with the idea of pre-agrarian society. For 40,000 years, from the rise of behaviorally modern humans until the development of agriculture 9,000 years ago, all of our ancestors had lived somewhat like the Mbuti do today. More than anything, Dan and Chris and I just wanted a glimpse of what that past might have looked like.
“Before joining the Mbuti in the forest, however, we first had to reach Epulu. Though we’d hoped to arrive by nightfall, the going along the washed out dirt road had been slow, and eight hours after leaving the border of Uganda, we still had 50 miles ahead of us. Swallowed by the fast-falling equatorial sunset, our Pajero trudged on into the darkness.”