Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Village Visit Part II

The cab dropped us off at Dave's home in a village of about 300. We immediately attracted attention as we were the second group of foreigners to ever come to this village, the first being Ruth when she visited earlier this year. We were greeted by Dave's grandmother and mother. Both the grandfather and father are deceased.

The house is built in a courtyard fashion. We entered through a gate and were in a hard packed dirt courtyard with rooms around the edge. One was a kitchen and one was a combination living room and bedroom where we spent the majority of our time. I didn't see in the other rooms but at night the family donkey was brought inside the courtyard and seemed to be tethered across the courtyard from where we stayed.

We were served tea and snacks and greeted the first group of people who came to see us. Conversation was minimal as Dave was busy helping and Ruth knows just a few phrases. Needless to say, I smiled and nodded a lot. However, this did not seem to be a problem as they seemed to genuinely be interested just to see us. The women all were wearing their best blouses with their pants.

We next went on a walking tour of the village while the mother, grandmother, and Lily fixed a fancy dinner. Dave escorted us through the village and out to the surrounding farm fields. Wheat is the primary crop. It was a beautiful scene as there were all the green fields fading off into mountains. People were finishing their day's work and heading for the village, some carrying their hand tools or leading a cow. We got many curious but friendly stares.

After we returned to the house we started on this nice meal of several dishes. Potatoes are often what Dave's mother and grandmother eat but we definitely had the company meal with dishes of chicken, duck, fish, and several vegetable dishes. Soon more people arrived and the pattern for the evening was set.

Ruth had taken many pictures when she had been there before and had brought prints for everyone as a gift. Dave would hand out the photos and people were so happy to see them. There was much laughter and passing of the pictures. After we finished dinner we just greeted people. It was like an open house all evening. Dave and Ruth took pictures of anyone that did not get a picture taken last time. Ages ranged from babies to grandparents. It was a most interesting time and I really felt like a celebrity.

Finally, about 11:30, everyone left and we went to bed. There is a raised platform across one end of the room and mats were rolled out on it. Dave, Ruth, the grandmother and I all slept there. I assume Lily and the mother were in another similar room. There is electricity so Ruth and I even used our CPAP machines. However, there is no running water. There is a community well and a community outhouse across from Dave's house which we made use of before the gate was locked for the night.

In the morning we had breakfast and greeted a few more people. Several women brought us gifts. I got several decorations that hang off a blouse button and several pairs of embroidered insoles for my shoes. Dave's mom had also made each of us a pair of slippers.

We then left in another taxi, sharing it with a teenager and her kitten. We stopped to visit Dave's uncle, aunt, and 2 cousins in the big town before catching the big bus back to Lanzhou. We arrived back at Ruth's flat about 3:00 pm.

Dave had told me, "The people in my village are poor but warm-hearted." They certainly showed us wonderful hospitality and it was a fascinating experience.

Isn't it really special to be able to stay at a 'real' home and not a tourist hotel?? I think it is that experience that can bind together people from different countries. Going to tourist spots can give the history of the country but not the present day life. Keep writing. I'm enjoying each one. Love Byrna PS I just found 2 bottles in our guest shower..your shampoo and conditioner??
There is nothing like travel to change your perspective or that of others. Suddenly the world is not so large and it is not all about us. Isn't it wonderful that such diverse cultures, backgrounds, and circumstances can be linked by fundamental common denominators of human experience? It is reassuring, comforting, and a connection to the goodness in human nature. I'm sure you two left a very favorable impression. Keep updating us on your adventures. I check your blog first thing every morning!
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