Saturday, August 30, 2008

A walk and some thoughts

I decided to get myself in gear now that I had bought a new pedometer. So I left around 11 am, fortunately armed with an umbrella, so I could check out the sandbagging scene further down the river. I got down to the Mekong River Commission and felt fine, then turned back. Crossed the T2 road and noticed they had graded a new section of the irrigation canal, so went along there, returned by the Northern Bus station to T2 road and finally the last two miles to my house. 19,467 steps at 60 cm. per stride, 11.8 kms. or just under 8 miles.

Usually that's not quite a trek, but I was walking at noon - and was unhappy to notice that people had cut trees along most of the route. Some friends tell me that the branches and break off and smash houses. I guess so... but there's more.

A few years ago, my former landlady had cut her leg while cutting brush around my house. A few days later, I noticed that a nice little tree in the front of the house was gone. I asked my neighbor about it and she hemmed and hawed and finally told me that kind of tree can have snakes in it, and if you do under the tree the snake can fall on your head. I thought that was strange, as I would have to crawl on hands and knees to go under the tree and since was next to the fence, it was unlikely that anyone would go under it.

The truth was revealed two years ago when I was drinking beer with some friends and I heard them talking about the incident of my landlady cutting her leg, so I asked what the real story was. She had dreamed about the tree and believe that a spirit in the tree had caused the knife to slip. By making an offering elsewhere, and cutting down the tree once the spirit had been lured out of it, she hoped that it wouldn't cause any more problems. I asked them why they hadn't told me this at the time. "We knew that you believed these traditions and were afraid that you might move out." I wished I had known at the time, I would have helped them with whatever ceremonies. And I had to smile to think that something like this would make me move out - I've rented this house in Xieng Khouang for 12 years now.

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