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Tuesday, November 01, 2005


A few more things on Yongning, where I am today. [Do check out that link. Very interesting comparison between the 1920s and the present day.--ed.] First, on the drive here, through nice countryside, I saw two kids jumping in a giant pile of hay and playing. Then our bus almost ran over a few kids riding these little scooters - like sleds - but piled high with wood on which they sat, the wood on top of wheels, going down a windy mountain road.

Also, today, near an elementary school in the country, a China flag over the one-story brick building surrounded by brown farmland barren now after the corn harvest, but with a few horses grazing in the land behind the farms before the mountains, kids after the bell running out, running past me, running down the street throwing stones at pigs and laughing and just being kids. Very nice.

Met a lot of Mosuo people today, taking pictures and chatting. I don't really see the matriarchal thing in these chats, but I do see how they live and it ain't easy. (My George Bush speech for the day..."I got work to do, you know" can we have a president who answers questions with that kind of grammar? Really.) I was invited into one woman's house, a wooden door with a wooden latch inside to lock it. Inside, in the courtyard, dried beanstalks which she thrashed with two sticks tied together, which formed sort of an oversized nunchuck (sp?). [Close enough.--ed.] The upper level of the house, brown wood storage space. Her daughters share one small bedroom with a few old posters of pop stars and concrete floors. The living room also small with a TV and two old couches. Across the living room door, a beaded curtain made not from beads but from plastic things wrapped by hand in shiny wrappers. She gave me a bowl of seeds and some sweet apples grown on the farm. She talked about how hard it is now and because of their hardship the oldest daughter, not yet 17, moved to Lijiang to work. The girl misses home very much and the mom said she has no friends yet. A twenty-year old neighbor girl joined us and the woman insisted they put on traditional clothes for me to take a picture. That was kind of cool as I got to help her button the top and thus could see what a hassle it is for the women who wear these clothes day in and day out. The most striking thing about this woman was her hands...hard and wrinkled and calloused with dirt stains and dirty nails.

I walked for a good 5 hours through the countryside and people along the way smiled and waved. It was perhaps the most peaceful day I've experienced in a long time, with wind coming through trees, pigs shoveling mud with their snouts, horses whinnying, the whishk whishk thwack of thrashing farmers, [presumably it is the farmers who are doing the thrashing?--ed.] burbling streams and people washing clothes, ducks swimming, boys leading bulls by rope tied to horns, people lying on the side of the road sleeping (one in the same place I saw him in yesterday - I thought he was dead until he moved just a fraction), tractors the only traffic rumbling by stacked high with wood or people. I could go on.

At night it is pitch black except for a few lighted signs above doors and a random house light. Stars above. I tripped twice on bricks on the way here. Sounds of karaoke singers in small rooms fill the air and a three table bar sits across the road; a Mosuo woman and her daughter watching sappy movies and Kenny G music videos; these things call me to write. I may stay for another day. [Lord help me that I just posted a Kenny G link. And his website is playing Christmas tunes!--ed.]

Oh, and by the way. If anyone is interested..I changed the date of my return. I will be back in Cincinnati on Dec 13...flying home from Bangkok. About this I am very excited [are you channelling Yoda now, Alan?--ed.] as it means that I will not be in a Godawful rush to do a whole lot of things and see a whole lot of people across the midwest before going to Argentina in mid-January...which is the most exciting thing of all.


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