I hope I’ve entertained you so far with my story, The Search for the Last Flower. Here’s the 3rd episode. If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 please do so before reading this part. Thanks for stopping by and reading.
During an aerial search over the Amazon Basin, Dr. Caleb Wilson discovered the existence of a previously unknown tribe. The flyover was followed by a visit to Dr. Andrew Smith, a doctor in pharmacology and microbiology, who was like a father to him. Caleb had lost his mother when he was an infant and his father when he was an adolescent. Dr. Smith, Caleb’s father’s best friend, took on the duty of parenting after the death of Caleb’s dad.
Dr. Caleb Wilson’s girlfriend, Clarice, had gone on a missionary trip to a remote part of the Amazon. He had not heard from her since. She was traveling with only two others: Dr. Johnson and her assistant, Dylan. Caleb thought it was a bad idea to go to such a remote part of the jungle with so few people, since small parties could easily disappear in the Amazon, but once Clarice set her mind on something, it was near impossible to change it.
The destination of Clarice and her party was kept secret in order to protect the tribesmen who lived there. She did not want all sorts of characters invading these people who had managed to live in secret for so long.
Caleb had begged and pleaded with her to give him the coordinates of where she was headed. She didn’t give him exact coordinates, but he finally managed to get a general location. Now he was afraid she might be lost or worse—hurt somewhere in the jungle. He convinced Dr. Andrew Smith to go with him on a search and rescue mission. He put together a team, and they flew out as soon as everyone was together. They landed near the area where he had spotted the mysterious tribe and set up camp.
Caleb did extensive research of the area, including expeditions on the ground and a study of satellite images. Certain that this was the tribe Clarice and her party had visited, he assembled a small group of men and did daily searches near the village, always being careful that he and his men did not interfere in the tribe’s daily life or activities. They had yet to set eyes on Clarice, her assistant, or the doctor.
They kept vigil from afar until one day, the elder of the tribe invited Caleb to join him in the village. The tribe spoke a Portuguese dialect, and since Caleb was fluent in Portuguese, it did not take him long to establish communication with them. He asked the elder many questions, including if he had seen Clarice and her party.
Apparently, Clarice was memorable for the elder and his tribe; her light auburn hair, pixie haircut, fair skin, and green eyes had caused a stir in the village, where all the inhabitants possessed long dark hair and some shade of brown eyes. They had never seen a white woman before, or a freckle-faced redhead.
The elder told Caleb that Clarice and her party had left after a couple of weeks to go on another mission. Caleb was relieved. He thought it strange that she didn’t call to let him know. Then again, he realized that it would not be easy to place a call from this remote part of the world.
After several visits, Caleb won over the tribesmen’s trust. He then began lobbying for the others to join him, assuring the elder that he would select only a small group of his finest men. Dr. Andrew Smith and a few others were chosen by Caleb to stay at the village for a while. The others would remain on the perimeter, out of the way.
“Are you sure that’s accurate?” Dr. Smith asked.
“I ran the numbers twice, and I interviewed the head of the tribe.” Caleb stared wide-eyed at him. “There are eight generations of healthy, living relatives in this tribe.”
“That doesn’t seem possible!” Dr. Smith walked back and forth with a mobile expression. “Who is the oldest member of this tribe? And how old is he?”
“The oldest person is always the head of the tribe.”
“But that man could not be a day over fifty, for God’s sake! How could he be the father of eight generations? At what age do these people begin producing children––at six years old?”
“The elder of the tribe is one hundred and forty-four years old.” Caleb wore a satisfied smile. “These people marry young and begin procreating between the ages of sixteen and eighteen.”
Dr. Smith stared openmouthed at the young man with the tousled blond hair, scruffy beard, and eyeglasses whose gold wire frames were too large for his facial features. He walked away shaking his head.
Caleb ran after him. “Andrew! I have checked the facts and interviewed nearly every member of this tribe.”
Dr. Smith continued walking even faster.
“These people are living longer, healthier lives. Ninety-year-olds look and act like thirty-year-olds!” Caleb yelled after him. “Don’t you want to know why?”
Dr. Smith stopped short, and Caleb ran into him. He turned and gazed at Caleb for what seemed an eternity. Caleb fidgeted and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.
“You’re right. It’s worth looking into. Begin by documenting what these people eat, drink, where they bathe, what plants they use for medicinal purposes, and anything else we can find out about their daily habits. If I am to believe the facts you have presented me with, then somewhere in this isolated jungle is a cure for aging.”
Caleb sat on a tree stump and observed the men and women of the tribe. There was a cool breeze that tousled his already disheveled hair. He took a deep breath and inhaled the fresh fragrances of the nearby forest. There was a wall of trees around the village. If a person were not careful, it would be possible to wander into a jungle and never be found again. During the day there was a quiet cacophony of sounds, mostly insects and birds, occasionally monkeys. Overall, this was a peaceful place. The tribesmen were friendly, active, robust people. He jotted down in his journal any new observation, peculiarity or thought while watching them go about their daily activities.
“Magnificent people, aren’t they?” Dr. Smith said, jolting Caleb out of his zone. “The men are powerful, and the women are beautiful. They all get along so well. They respect each other and are kind to one another.”
“And they put up with us snooping around.” Caleb looked straight ahead.
Dr. Smith looked at him sideways and chuckled. “Yes, they do.” He sat down and made himself comfortable. “It is very peaceful here.”
“I’d like it to remain that way.” Caleb wore a grave expression.
“What do you mean by that”? Dr. Smith looked puzzled.
Caleb cleared his throat and sat upright. “We’re at the edge of a huge discovery. I believe I know now what is keeping these people young and healthy, but I don’t want this village turned into a laboratory or the tribesmen analyzed as if in a Petri dish.”
Andrew’s eyebrows shot up. He got to his feet. “Well––what have you discovered?”
“At the end of each year, the tribe has a celebration in which they dance and feast.”
“What are they celebrating?”
Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.