Sunday, March 26, 2006


I was up late last night, working on my medical anthropology paper, until my eyes blurred. The petanque crowd next door has quieted around midnight so it was nice to work in the cooling humid air. The quiet, humid air.

When I woke at 7 am, the crowd had started their morning games. I drank coffee under the shade of the mango tree and heard one of my cats, Alpha, meowing. She jumped up onto the fence between my house and the petanque players' house. I feel betrayed; I never knew that Alpha liked to gamble. I imagine that she lounges around, a glass of Beer Lao by one paw, and smoking a cigarette with the other, receiving leftover snacks from the participants.

After an exciting bike ride along the river, I left the my house, which is slowing transforming itself into an oven, and came here to the office where the trees keep my room cool and I can write and dream in peace.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


We're slowly moving towards hot season. In Vientiane, the wind barely moves and the new leaves of the Bodhi tree are still. They are the only sign of life in the temples, where in the afternoons, the tuk-tuk drivers lay down in their vehicles with their feet sticking out, snoozing as soundly as the dogs who sprawl out next to them in the thin strip of shade.

The only movement are the unemployed men who play petanque. It's a game, like bocce, played with metal balls. It's now night, when the village should get quiet. I almost drift off to sleep - and suddenly the hoot of the men wakes me up.

I've played petanque once. A friend had a long tailed boat, so we floated down to a sandbar on the Mekong, ate lunch and after pounding down the sand, had a level playing field. It was fun, mainly because it was a beautiful day with a cool breeze along the river, but I don't think I could play it 24 hours/ day and with the same intensity as my neighbors. To each his own, and they can take petanque.

I do wish they'd be a little quieter about it though.