Ahmed is the boss, but you wouldn’t know it. He is a soft-spoken man who comes and goes silently and mysteriously, like a cat.
He could be in his thirties, or he could be in his forties. Most times he wears only a sarong, a look that fits him well. There are some pictures on the wall that betray a more cosmopolitan Ahmed, and younger too. He’s traveling the world in these pictures, see him in Paris here, in New York there. There is a picture of him with Jennifer Lopez, or more likely her wax replica.
Ahmed runs the Friendship Guest House, a way station for backpackers who want to take a trip into the Sumatran jungle in hope of seeing the Orang Hutan, the People of the Forrest. Or orangutan, as we call the furry orange beast.
Gunung Leuser, an Indonesian national park, pushes against Ketambe, the village from where we start our trek. In its vast stretches of jungle endangered species precariously stand their ground. Among them are the orangutan, the rare Sumatran rhino, and the mythical Sumatran tiger.
We are in Ketambe looking for an unadulterated taste of jungle wilderness.
Should we be ready at 7 AM? we ask Ahmed.
Anytime you want, he smiles kindly. The guide will wait for you to have breakfast.