Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Northern Lao Countryside

Mia and I on our way back from trying to touch China on my birthday. We made it to a checkpoint a kilometer away from the Chinese border and the guard stopped us and turned us around. ON MY BIRTHDAY!

Along every highway people stand and sit beating and crushing some type of dust out of these bits of plant they have collected. Roads and village squares are blanketed with the bundles of the thin branches. Though I am TOLD that they will be dried and used to make brooms, I remain skeptical. How can ANYONE need so many brooms. How can I believe that a country would focus its entire labor force on making brooms when they still haven't invented 'Not pooping in the street right in front of me' and 'not throwing garbage EVERYWHERE'? It doesn't make sense.

Fog envelops a mountain village in the early morning as seen from a bus window.

In Nong Khiaw every home has huge stacks of crates filled with empty BeerLao bottles. It is as if they are waiting for God to come and they know that the more bottles they have, the better chance they will have of getting into heaven.

A boy leads his buffalo out to pasture in the morning.

This tiny monk stopped us on the road and asked if we had a pen. We handed him one and he said, "Siyanara, SuckaZ!" and ran off into a field with it. We waited for a few minutes for him to return but instead a second monk approached us from the direction the first had disappeared to. "Can I have a pen too?" "Nope", I said, and kicked the bike into first gear, leaving him to shrink to a tiny orange dot in the side view mirror before fading into the late afternoon haze.

Late afternoon haze.

Gawkers mill about a burning house. People here love to gawk at things like traffic accidents and fires. None of this 'pretending to look at something else as you walk by over and over business'. You can just walk right into the scene of the accident and stare at it open mouthed with everyone else.

Lush countryside. Perfect for motorbike rides.

An ancestor gate. Only ghosts are allowed to pass through these. They stand at the entrances and exits to villages.

On a wall through the hills.

A boy in a dusty village nibbles on a stone.

Out the back of a bus.


Randy said...

"Siyanara, SuckaZ!"
I will be laughing at that situation for a while

Bridget said...

YAY! I just finally caught up with you! These past couple of months have been a whirlwind of holidays, (domestic) travel, packing, moving and I don't even know what else. We've started the second week of school - after a much needed weekend of rest, and a free day off to celebrate MLK Jr. A man who spent his whole life encouraging people to act... seems ironic to be afforded the opportunity to spend the whole day in my pajamas, but I took it. so there you go.

I'm loving the teaching gig. You have some experience here, so you will understand when I tell you that by Thursday night last week I was EXHAUSTED. Compound the usual fatigue from teaching (and meeting faculty, and submitting art for the faculty show, and working on a project for the office) with the addition of 6,000 extra feet of altitude and about a million trips up and down stairs, both in the art building and at home, and you will see that it really was quite tiring.

I went to Sedona to see Carmen and the grandparents on Thursday night after my last class and a little work on my PEA project. Carm and I ended up talking about computers - I gave her some software and showed her a few tips on the use of Adobe software - and then Grandma fed us - and then we talked about life and friends - and then Grandma fed us - and Carmen shared stories about her new workshop and her very first full-time employee and the success of her business and her own fatigue - and then Grandma fed us - and we all parted company so they could go to Eloy for a flying competition and I came home to Flagpole to finish decorating my bedroom and get life in order. I loved it.

We had two feet of snow the weekend I moved up here and since then the temperatures have ranged from in the single digits to about 40 degrees. I looked longingly at your photos of sleeveless shirts and sandals and now I will don my wool under polyester over cotton wrapped in acrylic and walk home to my divey split level apartment behind the strip joint to feed my cats and say hello to my silly, social, storytelling, lesbian housemate, watch a little telly and/or read about the history of printmaking or the vagaries of British life until I fall asleep.

Wishing you blue skies and more pens than you could distribute in a lifetime!

MWAH! Love you both!