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World Cultures Panama

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Specially printed in color, and accessible with stunning back-lit color images, this “single” recounts the adventures of Jackie Chase in Panama.

The author describes a memorable gap, “Wild and untamed, the ten thousand square miles of undeveloped, steamy jungle, called the Darien Gap, connects Panama to Colombia. The Darien has voraciously consumed explorers for centuries. Harsh and assertive, the jungle growth inhibits roads or any other type of civilization, but it encourages fugitives, drug smugglers, guerrillas, and jaguars like a magnet. This gap creates a land bridge between two continents, creating a mixing-ground for animals of both Americas and a funnel for birds that migrate over the land between them. The Chocó Indians, now known as the Embera and Wounaan, number close to 17,000, having survived smallpox and other diseases the Spaniards brought over.

They live deep in the heart of the Darien, close to river basins, very much the same as their ancestors lived during the days of Christopher Columbus, guarding generations of secrets. Both tribes have similar lifestyles, painting their upper bodies with Jagua, a dye coming from a local fruit that lasts about a month before needing reapplication. These tribes have made significant contributions to humankind's pharmaceutical medicine chest. Because of these tribes and their botanical skills from living in the forest, scientists and researchers gain knowledge indispensable to people in today’s world. The modern birth control pill comes from the Central America yam…”

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World Cultures Sulawesi

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Specially printed in color, and accessible with stunning back-lit color images, this “single” recounts the adventures of Jackie Chase in Sulawesi.

This story begins, “Tell me about the most unusual thing you have ever eaten?” I asked a German woman, standing next to me, absorbing this incredible sight. ‘Monkey, snake, bugs, worms, rats, cuscus and dogs seem normal in Fourth-World countries,’ she said as she scrunched up her nose and eyes while she answered. ‘But the worst-tasting animal ever is cat!’ The driver suggested I buy cigarettes for my hostess-gift. The cashier wrapped the carton in brown paper and tied it with string. Nonsmokers feel uneasy giving this gift. The driver explained, ‘Friends will envy a gift of store-bought cigarettes, considered a real luxury. Everyone smokes here in the mountains of Sulawesi.’ Pigs squealing in the distance gave my driver a direction to follow. A few people, both in front of us and following, confirmed the driver’s thoughts of a funeral ceremony, taking place in some village close to the road closing ahead. The driver accompanied me to the main structure for proper introductions to the deceased man’s wife, which would allow me to wander the compound as part of the extended family. After I had offered the wrapped gift to women serving tea and biscuits, I followed the driver’s motions of sitting Indian-style inside the makeshift funeral structure. Now an official friend of the family, I felt comfortable enough to walk the village and enter the traditional longhouse, built on poles to house the coffin, left here for the last two years.”

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World Cultures Vietnam

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Specially printed in color, and accessible with stunning back-lit color images, this “single” recounts the adventures of Jackie Chase in Vietnam.

This story continues, “Layers of fish netting, ropes, clothing rags, and a shoe with the sole missing trapped my feet as I tried to exit the boat. Clumps of tall grass made a great handhold for me as I inched onto shore. Bent over and almost crawling, I found the wooden walkway meeting the house. The sign language of the girl, hands wildly flailing, signaled her desire for me to keep moving forward. Words like, “Okay, okay,” along with her fake smiles did not assure me that I had the correct address for my invitation. Her departure back to Vinn Long, without any contact with this family, might spell trouble for me. The frenzy of that crucial moment of my uncertainty vanished like a cloud’s shadow in sunlight as a girl in a blue dress suddenly appeared on the shore and held her hands out to greet me. One of the love/hate relationships with travel that keeps me going, but might detour others from similar travels, comes in the form of language barriers. For instance, if I ask a question of a native, and she nods her head, that does not mean she understood anything I said to her.”    

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