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markandolly.jpgSo it’s Sunday night around 10 p.m. and you’re looking for something to watch because Dexter” and “True Blood” are on hiatus. I suggest you turn to the Travel Channel and check out “Mark & Olly: Living with the Machigenga.”

I first fell in love with Mark and Olly during the first season of the “Living With the Tribe” series.  The series showed former British army captain/professional adventurer, Mark Anstice, and award-winning journalist, Oliver “Olly” Steeds, living with the Kombai of West Papua, a tribe so remote that it was discovered less than 30 years ago.

Watching the men ingratiate themselves into the community and learn about the ways of a community that hasn’t changed much in 15,000 years was absolutely fascinating.  The show was full of drama as the duo tried to navigate tricky customs and it was also full of comedy as Olly’s adoptive family labeled him “lazy” compared to Mark.

Now on their third “Living with the Tribe” series, Mark and Olly are in the Peruvian Amazon.  They are living  with the Machigenga tribe and experiencing more drama than even “Dexter” could serve up. After surviving a hostile welcome, intense Black Ayahuasca-fueled vision quests, and harrowing rapids while floating on a raft of logs that looked about 4 ft. across, the adventurers run smack dab into one of the most difficult moments they have yet to face.

Teasers for this week’s show indicate that complications arise when Rosita, the tribe chief’s wife, gives birth and the “baby’s life hangs in the balance.” The preview leads us to believe that the delivered baby is not thriving in a normal way and that there is a very real chance the tribe could kill it.

“If it comes to it and the baby is going to be killed, what are we going to do?” Olly asks Mark in the preview. While the guys are extremely respectful of the cultures they immerse themselves in, they have, at times, bucked local convention. (Their refusal to pay $800 for a pig to sacrifice against witches, while living with the Mek tribe, comes to mind.) Can Mark and Olly accept Machigenga tradition or will they try to intervene?

My sneaking suspicion is that the men will decide not to, as they take every care to minimize the impact of their visits. I will be curious to see how the situation plays out, and I will be even more curious to see what Mark has to say in a live chat on TravelChannel.com after the episode.

Catch up on the entire series on the Travel Channel this Sunday.  Previous episodes air at 7:00 p.m. while the newest episode airs at 10:00 p.m.

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