'I had better learn how to be a Pal man'

Studies among the Pal tribe have recently included roof lessons.

Chris and Maggie Hostetter have lived in the Pal tribe for about three months. They are currently in the midst of culture and language studies. “Every day we spend a good deal of time with the Pal people learning and practicing their language, and then too, a good deal of time by ourselves analyzing and memorizing.”

But gaining insights into a culture and language can come in other ways, too. For instance, Chris says, “Last Friday, I had the privilege of learning how to put a roof on a house.”

Chris says that he and his friend, Nate, hiked 30 minutes to a nearby village where this cultural event was to take place. “When we first arrived, there were not many people around and we hung out in a house, munched on sugar cane and told stories. About an hour later, guys from nearby villages started pouring in and the work began.”

“At first,” Chris shared, “I stood and watched and snapped pictures, but it was not long before I was itching to take part. If Pal is going to be my home, I had better learn how to be a Pal man. I walked into the house and then climbed up the posts and beams until I was at the apex where half a dozen young men were working. ‘Put me to work,’ I said.”

Chris says that bamboo leaves, called mebia, are sewn together to create the roughing material.