So, we’re going to try a little something different this time around. Nothing to do with intelligence or special operations, but it may appeal to the Bear Grylls or “Dude, You’re Screwed” in some of you. Today, we are going to begin a series we’ll call “Dare Ya.”
Why, you ask? Weeelll…because it’s my article, so sit…down…and…zip…it. In all seriousness, I just thought that the concept of finding and researching off-the-wall places and things to do, then throwing them out to you all, would be cool. So here we go.
And by the by, I am not actually advocating that anyone visit or do any of the things that we will discuss in this series, so please tell your lawyer to stop SnapChatting me. Having said that, if anyone has been to any of these places or done any of the things that we write about, please feel free to fill us in on how it went down. So with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin our little journey to sunny North Sentinel Island.
North Sentinel Island is located in the Bay of Bengal, off the east coast of India and southern Myanmar, and is a part of the Andaman Islands. The island is roughly the size of Manhattan, and is—judging by satellite pictures and the rare (you will understand why, later) firsthand and secondhand accounts—as beautiful as any vacation spot, complete with white sand beaches and lush green jungle canopy.
Here is where it gets interesting. The inhabitants of the island, called the Sentinelese (go figure) are truly a blast from the past, with anthropologists labeling them “the last uncivilized people on Earth.” (Apparently “they” have not been watching the news here in the U.S. lately.) Their language is unlike any heard anyplace else on Earth, and no one—at least not yet—exists to translate. It has been estimated that the natives, who are believed to have migrated to the area from Africa, have lived on the island for close to 60,000 years. Population estimates range anywhere from 50 to 400. Why the wide range? Well that has something—okay, everything—to do with the complete lack of hospitality on the part of the island’s people.
In 1869, a Hindu convict escaped from prison and, after being adrift for a time, found his way to the island. No one knows the exact chain of events, but a few days later, a search party found their wayward escapee—with his throat cut and his body pin-cushioned with arrows. Not that hard to deduce what happened. Two years earlier, the Indian merchant ship Nineveh shipwrecked on a reef, and after landing on the island in a lifeboat, the surviving 106 passengers and crewmen had to fend off constant attacks by the Sentinelese until they were eventually rescued.
In 1880, a British expedition successfully landed on the island, but only found small trails and abandoned villages (the people were and are experts at melting into the jungle). Eventually, an elderly couple and four small children, too weak to run, were taken captive and transported back to Port Blair. Predictably, the elderly couple, lacking the immune systems to fight the onslaught of pathogens in the outside world, soon became ill and died. The children were eventually taken back to the island, where they were set ashore along with a bunch of gifts. A second landing was made in 1883 after the eruption of Krakatoa (a nearby ship believed that it was gunfire and a distress signal).
There are modern examples of the Sentinelese feelings toward modern encroachment, as well. The Indian government has, in an effort to both shield the natives from intrusion and protect outsiders, imposed a four-kilometer exclusion zone around the island, but that doesn’t prevent contact, both accidental and purposeful. In 1974, a documentary-maker braved the island despite the warnings. He left with an eight-foot-long arrow lodged in his thigh. (Sounds like a visit to my in-laws’.)
In 1981, the MV Primrose ran aground on the coastal reef. Soon after, the crewmen observed spear- and arrow-toting dark-skinned men gathering on the beach and building boats. The ship’s captain sent an urgent distress message requesting that weapons be airdropped to defend themselves, but he was ignored. As luck would have it, heavy seas kept the islanders from reaching the ship, and they were rescued a week later. The ship, along with one other that had been marooned, was stripped by the Sentinelese for iron until finally being dismantled by the Indian government.
In 2004, after the devastating tsunami that swept through the area had passed, the Indian government sent a coast guard helicopter to check on the wellbeing of the islanders. In what would prove to be one of the only encounters with the mysterious people caught on camera, the helo was chased off almost as soon as it appeared over the beach.
The tribe’s last-known act of defiance to the modern world took place in 2006. Two fishermen, allegedly drunk, were illegally crabbing in the mud just off the beach when their anchor failed and they drifted ashore. Other fishermen further out tried to shout warnings of the Sentinelese that they could see stalking the pair, but for some reason, the two men ignored them. They were swiftly executed and buried in plain view of the horrified onlookers.
So there ya go. Here are the parameters of your “adventure” should you decide to brave it. Of course, not every scenario/possibility can be addressed, but ya know what? Just freaking go with it, will ya? Once you reach the island, all links to most modern technology will be cut off, with the exception of:
- The knife of your choice.
- The clothes on your back.
Everything else is verboten. No comms, no boat (unless you want to attempt to build one), and no modern weapons. To give you a fighting chance, you will insert via the method of your choice (air or water). Keep in mind that helos and most boats make noise, so maybe think about something unconventional like a submarine or SDV insertion, then swim in. (Yeah, yeah, I get it. Calm down and use your imagination.)
You could jump in, but then if one of them sees you, arrows start flying at your exposed undercarriage and, well, you get my drift. Whatever you choose, once ashore you are on your own to survive—for two weeks. At an agreed-upon date and time, you will be picked up via the mode of your choice. I don’t know about you, but as for me, damn that. After two weeks, if I’m still alive I wouldn’t need extract. I would be Jesus Christ walking on water and be in India before you could say “curry.” If you make it out, debrief will be over beers and steaks. My treat.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Seriously though, I am not, I repeat NOT, legitimately challenging anyone to do this or endorsing anyone who’s considering it. Put your wetsuit and fins away, Sparky.
(Featured image courtesy of wackulus.com)