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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tiger Cave and the Villages

Hey guys,

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately - I've been pretty sick and also pretty busy....kind of a bad combination. I've got some bronchitis.....crazy, huh? That's not really a summer sickness....after I got here to Huan Xian, there were a couple of hot sunny days, and then it rained for 3 days, and I guess my body didn't really like it.

I've been on meds, but they haven't really helped, but I went to a different clinic today. The guy who runs it is a friend of Ben's family and knows me, so he made sure I got the right stuff. I took the medicine just once and I can already feel my lungs clearing out. 

So....yeah, I haven't been feeling up to writing much. 

I went to a couple of little, little places in some remote areas. The first place I went was called 虎洞, or Tiger Cave.....that's probably the most badass name in the history of naming towns. The people I stayed with were wonderful and happy hosts. It's a beautiful place - surrounded by mountains with a river running beside the town and its roughly 2,000 people.

As far as I know, no other foreigner has been to that little town. Understandably, my visit caused quite a stir. As I sat in this one lady's one-room house, people (especially kids) would come by, look through the open door, say "Wow, there really IS a foreigner here......" and then leave......hahaha wow. 

Visit one house, leave, visit another house, leave, visit another house, and the cycle continues. It was really exhausting day.


The next day, I went to the real deal. I went to my friend Benjamin's birthplace - the remote mountain terraces of Gansu. It was a truly amazing place - it is said that the mountains enrich the body and mind and produce genius and well-disciplined people, and it's hard to disagree. The fresh, cool mountain air was so refreshing and the views were nothing short of truly awesome. A tranquil place. Really and truly awesome. 

And yet, as you take in the view, you realize that all of this beauty is the result of lives of hard and long labor in the fields. When you talk about people "working in the fields," this is it. One must be hard-working, disciplined, and committed to the work at hand. No one is lazy here, although it seems like the perfect place to be lazy. The weather is only the slightest bit hot, with a breeze most of the time, and the caves that the families live in are cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

As you take a walk through the wheat fields, the apricot orchards, the potato fields, you can hear the braying of the family donkeys and the bleating of the lambs. One of the donkeys developed a funny attachment to me - he was my buddy haha. 

Since me, Ben, Elena, and Ben's brother were coming, a special treat was offered to us. One of Ben's uncles killed a lamb and cooked it for our dinner - fresh lamb cannot be beat, although they insisted I be present when it was killed. They wanted ME to kill it, but I don't have that kind of constitution. Watching and listening was bad enough. There was also some fish to be eaten. Ben's grandma said it was "a new spring festival" because we were having two kinds of meat at dinner. 


I'm going to revisit this, but I've GOT to start washing some clothes and go to bed.


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