Rubber tree

Synthetic rubber is readily available but, as the saying goes, there’s nothing like the real thing. This tree is very close to what once was Camp Carroll, an America artillery base in the Republic of Vietnam. To get there, I traveled along Route 9, the originally French-commissioned colonial highway located close to the former Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Vietnam. The base, run by South Vietnamese soldiers after the Americans downsized their force commitments, fell in 1972 to North Vietnamese soldiers. Closer to the highway, I encountered local people heat-testing the sap for quality and then, if satisfied, pouring it into large containers for transport to processing facilities. It was late 2017, and I was traveling from Dong Ha to Khe Sanh, site of the former American combat base. The battle there formed a prelude to the politically-momentous 1968 TET Offensive.