Regardless of what time of day it happens to be, it’s customary in these parts to take a drink with the Chief when you arrive at his village. So when the Chief of this particular dusty little hill village produced a dirty brown glass and a bottle of cloudy green liquid at nine in the morning, I wasn’t really in a position to argue.
He poured himself a shot, knocked it back, refilled the glass and encouraged me to partake.
So I did.
Although it was certainly more Molotov than mojito, with a definite hint of cabbage infused petrol, I managed to turn my grimace into a smile and he seemed pleased.
Of course the rest of my team politely declined his kind offer, which it turns out – although hadn’t been explained to me – was a perfectly viable option.
Still, I like to think of it as building international relations, you know diplomacy and all that.
Through numbed lips and itchy teeth I asked,
“What is this stuff?”
Pointing towards the murky bottle I said,
“And what are all those bits at the bottom?”
This query was relayed through two translations to the chief, the answer relayed back, a point of clarification returned through two translations and then the final answer translated back to me.
“He says its deer antlers and tiger bones.”
The chief waggled the bottle, and smiled.
“He says do you want another, it’s good for you”
The Chief elaborated upon this claim, by physically demonstrating the positive influence the liquid could have on my life, using the the international sign language for virility.
I replied to him with the international signal for “I’m all right for virility thanks, there’s only so much virility one needs, however I know where to come if I ever find myself in difficulties in the future.”
He took another hit, as if to reinforce his point, and left me to my breakfast.
Poking a particularly strange looking piece of gristle in my bowl with a chopstick I turned to my translators.
“Now, before I get stuck in; is there anything I need to know about this?”