Nit is a short 65 years old man with a thick mustache, and a face marked by years of experience. He speaks a little English but more than enough to show us around the jungle.
We enter the park after getting our lunch boxes and declare ourselves to the park rangers. Soon after our first steps, we are quite impressed. All his senses are already awakened. He spots everything, regularly stopping our stroll without a word, examining the remains of what looks like early monkey’s breakfast or the fresh 40cm footprints left by wild elephants making their path in the dense wet jungle… Any noises coming from the jungle is a source of life and step by step we learn from Nit how to observe and listen.
Nit has deep roots in the jungle, he has been a guide in the Park for decades, and before that, used to be a hunter in his young age.
“What did you hunt?”
“Tigers and Elephants. Tigers because they used to attack the villages, and Elephants for selling the ivory.”
So yes, Nit knows the jungle like the back of his hand and soon leads us off tracks in his former hunting-ground. Soon the monsoon rains hit us and will last basically until the end of our trek. But, we are just following Nit, happy that we found this unique character, short but strong, old but with sharp eyes, hunter but now protector of animals. He is no cutting away the branches to make a way through the thick vegetation, guiding us on muddy and slippery slopes making sure time to time that we can follow. Sam and I didn’t complain, and to be honest I was quite grateful to be with Nit during this trip. For some reasons, we blindly followed him totally wet from the rain but enthusiastic.
Ending up our trek, we open more discussion with Nit and ask him what he is doing while out of the jungle. He tells me about his garden and farm not so far from our accommodation. My curiosity pulls me out asking him to visit his place. Because, yes, it should be wonderful. Based on all the knowledge he got from his environment, his love for living species, and seeing how caring he was toward us, we ceased the opportunity to discover more about him.
He drives us to his place, a vast and secluded land surrounded by rubber and palm tree plantations, a small farm with hundreds of ducks and roosters and a lively garden with aromatic herbs, curcuma, ginger, rosemary, pineapple, durian, basil, mint… Absolutely everything is growing in this tidy garden blessed by tropical rains almost yearlong…