Down on the farm

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August 12, Noon, Sapa restaurant

Miserably wet day. Not that I mind that much. Gives me a chance to write more, anyway.

To get back to yesterday: on the hike we stopped at a couple of houses. One woman was making the clothing thread. A big vat of blue dye sat in front of her.

She was sitting in the courtyard of a small wooden house. Two kids stood around her. She was twisting thread together. You see women doing it all the time as they are walking. Baskets are strapped on their backs like big backpacks, leaving their hands free to work, twisting, twisting with nary a thought, the strands hung like cheap necklaces around their necks.

That is what she was doing as she sat there. Two of her daughters were there with us. The final thread is pretty thin, and she had stretched yards and yards of it on a big rotating 4 cornered spindle (the right word?).

All about us were animals. There was a mother dog, naturally a little suspicious of us, and her pups. I leant down to let a pup lick a finger and the mother dog, still on her side suckling others, leaned out her head to sniff it.

One of the daughters said, "No! No!" gesturing that the dog would bit. Even though I didn't believe it (the mother didn't growl, or raise any hackles, or anything), I withdrew. Better safe than sorry.

There were also hogs and the father dog who kept his distance. A bunch of hungry ducks wandered onto the scene pecking away for food, until they were chased off by an angry hen and her three little chicks. They pecked away like mad, and the little ones chased off a pigeon that flew in for a quick snack. Mean little suckers. They then wandered into the house, but a daughter (who stood beside her mother, hands folded behind her back, looking almost imperious) drew them out with a handful of rice grains tossed onto the ground. The ducks made a try for it, all of them scooting in necks outstretched, beaks open... but the hen came out then and they all backed off quickly.

We left there after a while. One of my companions bought a pouch from the woman. Someone gestured for us to follow them and we did. A boy watched us from his perch on the back of a huge water buffalo.

We walked along the edges of terraces through field after field until we reached a house. I'm not sure why we went. Shopping maybe, there were a bunch of kids in the house. None of them looked in the best state of health. I later read that few had the opportunity to go to school or get medical attention. Their parents probably needed them to help run things- as they were needed when they were young.

We made our way back and had dinner, and afterwards collapsed into our beds without much further talking. It had been a long day.

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