The Peanut Ladies

Trip Start Jan 07, 2011
Trip End Feb 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Kumadari Guest House

Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay,
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I had a rough night last night – still not eating, lots of sweating. We rented bikes again today and headed to the villages for more meet and greet. The first one we hit was down a dusty dirt path hidden in the middle of seemingly nowhere surrounded by dried fields and scattered trees. Early into our visit an 80ish year old lady beckoned us with an enthusiastic wave into her yard. We like being beckoned. It gives a small tingle of "what's next". We sat down on her front porch and out came a big jar of peanuts.  The old lady and her daughter showed us some peanut plants and then showed us several large woven baskets filled with peanuts. The baskets were about 5 feet high and 2 feet in diameter.  I mention this because, well, there were a lot of peanuts in them.

We chatted and laughed and understood little. Next, Gramma invited us into the house to show a few photos of her family on the bamboo walls. Tim reciprocated by pulling out a family photo from his wallet.She was particularly proud of her granddaughter in her University graduation photo. The inside of the house was simple and very empty with one large communal room for cooking and sitting and bedding on the floors in the corners. When you don’t have much you don’t have much. No electricity, so no electronics or appliances. Any extra cash likely went to buying another ox or pig or maybe a motorcycle. These people were ox rich and house poor.

I thought at one point she was pulling out plates to make us some food that might challenge our stomachs, but no – she was just looking for another peanut dish. After our fill of peanuts – we said our goodbyes to Gramma, Mom and a few children that had surfaced and strolled the dusty lanes again.

The village was almost all women and children; the men being out in the fields or in town I assumed.

It was dry season and there was little green to be seen. Most yards seemed to have an ox or two along with a scattering of pigs and chickens.

Another mother beckoned us into her house. We were soon surrounded by several ladies, older girls and children of all ages. Several of the older ladies continually shelled peanuts and handed them to us. Then out came the tea and a plastic bottle filled with sesame seeds was pulled down from a shelf and poured into a dish with a spicy paste which Tim and Rob passed on. I indulged figuring that I was already sick so what was the worst that could happen?

I showed the ladies a few pictures of my wife and girls on my camera and they all agreed that I had a good looking family. Tim spotted a Manchester United poster on the wall and that brought Mom to life with gleeful chatter. After our tea was done we said our goodbyes and headed off thrilled with our village visit.

We did a few more villages which were relatively quiet and then stopped for a cold drink with a dynamic young lady who if she only had a large enough field to stand in would, I’m sure, do amazing things. She chatted, hustled, entertained and impressed.

After our drinks she took us behind the shop to her village and showed us a few farming tools including a stick with a can tied to the end. She explained its purpose and I nodded OK. “Do you understand?” she asked? “No” I responded quickly and we all broke out laughing. Then she took us to visit her grandmother who was smoking a cigar and working a small spinning wheel.

We left our young lady and biked a little down the road to visit a few temples. Tim got a flat but luckily we were only 500 metres from the main road and sure enough there was a road side flat tire business located there. 50 cents later Tim and Rob were off to a distant temple while I chose to save my energy and head back to the hotel for a swim. After their temple visit, Tim got another flat and had to hire a horse cart to take him and his bike home.

Tim and Rob had dinner in the restaurant while I watched Al Jazeera report on the Tunisian revolution.
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