I've completely lost track of the days at this point, but the next day (whenever that was), Hanna and I set out on a trek to a small village. Because Laos is still littered with land mines, and my sense of direction is terrible, we were accompanied by a guide, whose name was Onh. He told us he was tired because he had been to a wedding the night before and his friends made him drink too much. He was our age and we liked him a lot.
The trek was really so much fun. I had been told that flip-flops were good footwear, but a healthy amount of the hike involved clambering up slippery, mossy rocks, which wasn't easy. The flip-flops came in handy later, when we waded through rivers and pools and mud. Once in a while, Onh would find something edible and show us how to cut it open and eat it.
We stopped for lunch at a small hut, belonging to an old woman and her many pigs. We ate sticky rice and meat and chatted a bit. I felt I knew Onh well enough by that point to ask him about Lao attitudes towards America, since we are directly responsible for it being the most bombed country ever. In history. "What do your parents think of America?" I asked him. "Oh, they hate America!" he replied cheerily. Fair enough. Then Hanna rested on the porch for a while, as did Onh, who was sleeping off his hangover. I wandered around the dusty yard and checked out the animals.
After lunch, we kept walking - through thick jungle with cut-down banana trees, and quiet villages and quiet-er rice fields. I've never seen rice growing so close up, and since Hanna did some backbreaking rice farming in India, she explained to me how it works. I won't bore you with the details. (Translation: I don't really remember, except that you plant the rice in the muddy water, they grow little rice grains in the green shoots, then you take out the rice, and - voila! - it ends up at my table).
From our archives: Thanksgiving
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