T's Journey Into Survival Hell - Part 1

My husband, Jay, and I recently completed a 4 day class in Aboriginal Living Skills with Cody Lundin.  What follows is an account of my adventures. 

He had me with the siren call “The more you know, the less you need.”  That’s Cody Lundin’s motto for his Aboriginal Living Skills Schools.  I was doing a lite version through Yavapai College - my final 2 credits before graduation.  Two days of lecture and two days in the field.  

Jay and I arrive early for day one, imagining this is what a blind date must feel like.  Cody, a tall and sturdy cornfed boy, enters lacking both shoes and pretense. We like him immediately. I knew about the shoeless thing and try not to stare at his feet - do his soles resemble shoe leather?

The rest of the class assembles and we introduce ourselves.  “I don’t like people,” declares the big dude at the back of the class.  Don’t take it personally, he adds.  There’s three young men who need a couple of credits to graduate.   

The one other couple are repeat students.  “You’re going to love this!” the wife later tells me.  I’m glad there’s another woman in the group.  A scholarly 19-year-old and another mid-twentish man round out out group.  That makes nine.

We will learn how to build fire with sticks, make “cordage,” purify water and shit in the woods.  When he mentions that last thing, a mental alarm bell chimes.  “We will discuss the outing and what you need tomorrow,” he says.  Ruh-Ro.  Up to this point, the class description was not clear about being an over-nighter.   

I mention this to Cody and he uses a few colorful adjectives to express his frustration over the lack of clear communication from the college.  But then he moves into teaching mode. He is a mixture of a fire hose of information meets zen yogi.  He ain’t no smoke blower.   We settle in for the 12 or so hours of classroom instruction which includes the unpacking of a Tardis-like Rubbermaid tub whose outer size belies the massive amount of primitive tools ranging from wooden tools to a gnarly pair of buffalo slippers.  All are hand crafted.You can snag a women with this shit, Cody tells us.  If I saw a dude moving toward me wearing those slippers, I would flee.

Throughout his teaching, my curiosity and concern is growing over this shitting in the woods thing.  Primarily because he has promised us this will take place without toilet paper.  I make a mental note to bring plenty of white flour products with our foodstuffs.

The final hour of the second day, he spills the beans.  No toilet paper, no problem.  Just reach for a rock.  “I usually need about 5 or 6, unless I’ve been eating Mexican, then I need about 7 or 8,” he says.  Uncomfortable laughter from the tribe.  “And you should take your pants totally off,” he adds.  You don’t want to trip over your pant leg and fall into it, after all.   

Oh my god.  What the hell did I get myself into?  I begin thinking of stuffing myself with bananas, cheese and Wonder bread prior to departure.  I am clutching the list of things to bring…and the things NOT to bring.  

Approved - sleeping bag.  Not approved - cell phones.  Approved - food that doesn’t need cooking.  Not approved - toilet paper.  I read it again. Toilet paper.  TOILET PAPER.

I make a bold decision right then and there.  I am smuggling in toilet paper.