Trip Start Jul 12, 2006
62Trip End Ongoing
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Back at the farmer's house, Rich and I had been a bit anxious after test lifting the 80 to 90 pound bags to our shoulders and taking a couple baby steps around the dining room (not exactly a dining room, but it did have a table for eating) while the girls watched with big smiles and the locals giggled with the emotion of someone seeing a girrafe jumping ropeVideo outside the house) because we had to wait for the boys to finish their lunch. We hadn't started working before lunch time because we had been up all night outside our room in the village playing drinking games with locally brewed rice wine (the apple rice wine was amazing). (Video of walk to the village) Rich commented that his condition was around 80% and Leila thought that that was pretty good.....considering. I, myself, was in perfect working order because I, as you all know, don't drink, and even if I did, would never take part in something so silly as a drinking game. Bah! Later, after navigating a particularly steep and muddy hill in the afternoon heat sporting my sack-o-rice, I noticed the distinct smell of second day alchohol as it's being pumped out through the pores and realized that Rich must have bumped into me several times. Couldn't have been me. Rich was lagging behind a bit as he was trying to get the cumbersome thing to sit propperly on his shoulders and I was stumbling and cursing as I tried to stay on the heals of the village man in front of me. (Video while we were resting) He was almost half the size of me, but shot up the trickiest parts without missing a step, only pausing every 15 feet to spin on his heel, wait a couple seconds for any sign of exhaustion or uncomfort, and cackle like a hyena. The man was having a great time. We finally pushed up the last rise, rounded the corner, and ducked under the overhang covering something that looked like a giant hallow rock, but only one of us still carried his burden
After a short rest, we joined Leila who was beating the rice stalks we had cut the day before, a simple task, but physically taxing. Using a special tool, that kind of resembles a set of nunchucks, to grip large bundles of the rice by the cut ends, you repeatedly swing the full load down into the slanted sides of a heavy wooden box about 4 ft. x 4 ft. to knock off all the rice grains. And I mean ALL the rice grains or the lady of the house will upbraid you and threaten you with a sickle. She was actually a very nice lady and I could completely understand when she got a little testy as we were there to have fun and learn a little something and she actually depends on that rice to eat and feed her children for an entire year. Something I noted quickly; don't play around when it comes to someone else's food supply. I'm no stranger to hard physical labor (you may laugh, but I've had some tough jobs), but harvesting rice fields by hand will really test a person
We finished up a good chunk of the rice we had cut and said our goodbyes. The girls had made strong connections with the family, Pat and Steph with the young girls and Leila with the small baby and his mother. As we left, our guide went back with Pat's camera to take family photos which the girls had printed out and sent back them. It's a special event for a family so poor to be able to do. The next day back in town, Leila and Steph went shopping at the market and bought all of the children new clothes for the coming winter. Meeting the family alone was a rewarding experience, then to mix into it the scenery and hands-on glimpse into their lives was something I'm sure we'll always remember.
That was our fourth and fifth day in Sapa. The first day I had come from Hanoi on the overnight train with Leila, Pat, and Steph and randomly met the always upbeat Rich on the street or in a resteraunt somewhere
-=Went to Cat Cat village. Met a villager. Carried an extremely heavy log over a mountain with him and friends(comment about Comando). Had lunch with the villager, consisting of water buffalo (100x better than yak), fish soup, vegetables, and rice with his friends and family at his very poor house. Smoked tobacco from a bamboo water bong. Drank too much rice wine. Left feeling very good after having a truly genuine experience with some nice people.=-
So that was Sapa