Posts Tagged With: water buffalo

There’s Not Much Hope in Hope

I have immersed myself in my friends’ lives (both past and present) for the span of a week. I am so very honored that they have entrusted me to help edit a book retelling their lives. Lives that have not only survived unimaginable events that could have destroyed (both literally and figuratively) most of us, but lives that have thrived in so many ways and went on to benefit others. I get teary-eyed when I think about it. One is a lawyer, the other is a doctor, both are activists. I am in awe of and love these two very much. Soon you will be able to read about it. “Beauty and Beyond” will be coming online and to a bookstore near you.

It’s Carlsbad where I have arrived after my 27 hours of car, train, and waiting time in between. Since I have a limited time here, I want to take advantage of the time with them as much as I can, so we have been immersed in the writing. It’s also been so very hot outside that it is not the place to be. Carlsbad is home to the Carlsbad Caverns which are beautiful and certainly worth a visit but I’ve been there before so not a good enough excuse to play hooky. But since even God rested on the 7th day, on the 8th day they take me to the mountains where they have a few acres. I am going to be a tourist with local guides!

Frank has left the night before and will be meeting us in Mayhill. So it’s a girl’s road trip for Marta and me. We don’t pack because this is going to be a day trip. From Carlsbad, NM to Mayhill, NM is about two hours. But first how can we not stop in a town named Hope? When Marta mentions it she has a twinkle in her eye. I need not wonder why for we arrive in Hope soon enough. It t is soon apparent that this town should change its name. An old building which housed Alice’s Treasure at some point is the first to great us. undefined It initially makes me yearn for my little antique/collectible stall I had in a mall in Orange, CA but this store ended up like mine, shut down and lonely. The Hope Store also is closed. undefined All that is left are the signs. In the “garden” a tractor that is very much like the ones I saw in my birth country of Paraguay. undefined This one has no more life in it.

And then there’s the washing machine which brings me memories of my grandma. I can almost see her squeezing the clothes through the rollers to then hang them in the sun on the clothesline to dry. She was a strong woman. One that took control of the household and smoked cigars she rolled herself.

Surprisingly, this town has a USPS a post office that is large and new-looking. Even though, across the street is the only Fire Department that itself has burned down. I can’t think of no other with that fate. (I would later find out that the Fire Department in Carlsbad had a hotel construction next to it which burned down even with its firehouse next door.) It may be a New Mexico thing. Before we reach Mayhill, Marta wants us to stop at Tom and Pam Runyan Ranches. undefined She wants the owner to meet me. Unfortunately he was undergoing some medical procedure and I didn’t get to chat with him. There’s a petting zoo here. undefined One where a camel and an Asian water buffalo co-exist and, dare I say, have formed a friendship.

In the pen you will also find pigs and goats and a few other species.

It’s a rescue farm and they re-home as many animals as they can. I have a little kitten who hitched a ride in the engine of the car (TWO rides of 20 minutes each!) that I would love to find a home for. But they don’t take domestic pets. Anyone? I will deliver! Here is a picture taken by master Pet with Human photographer Johanna Siegmann.

Bootsie has the “Stop maaa, it’s my spotlight.” look.

This metal overgrown rooster has yet to find a home as well. A few signs catch my attention.

And we arrive at their town. It’s only a few blocks long.

Then off to their property undefined to drop off a few things.

We arrive only a few minutes later and pick Frank up to go to Cloudcroft which is 9,000 feet up undefined and a ski haven, therefore a more touristy town.

Our main focus is to buy an incredible piece of pie and a really, really good burrito (not eaten in that order but listed in order of importance).

With our bellies nice and full and our sweet tooth more than satisfied we are ready to move on.

And on we go to Shady Pines. The house of a local woman that holds wonderful classical concerts in the summer.

The place is pretty magical. She is super creative and the garden is chockfull of wonderful plants (she gives me a chocolate mint one, whose aroma later permeates the car and makes me hungry once again), of little quaint areas to rest in, and paths where you can channel your Zen.

Everywhere you look there is something to smile about.

And we head back with a pit stop to take a photo of flowers and bees.

The day after comes my own trip back to Los Angeles.

And I wish not to forget that I would close my blogs with a song. Any song that resonates with me or that catches my attention. So here goes… because this is how I may be feeling.

Categories: New Mexico, Uncategorized, United States, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day Sawng (Two) in Laos.

The day is only an hour or two past its midpoint and we have seen so much, felt so much.  I feel a bit spent, but adrenaline keeps me going.  Walking away from the village presents me with snippets of this village I doubt I could experience otherwise.  

The shield that comes up for protection when in an urban jungle is non-existent here.   There is no need of it in this village of hospitality, smiles and curiosity.  Somehow, a sudden hug or touch does not surprise me and I welcome and succumb to it.  Mostly, their sense of gratitude is shown with even-broader-than-usual smiles.  Not that they don’t try to sell and earn.  They do.  Lady pleeeease buy from me beautiful scarf.  Little kids add on the guilt thick with a sad look if you don’t.  But that doesn’t seem to cool the warmth they generate in me.  Wish you could see it in the photos, but I realize that when I point a camera the smile is modified.  

The town is dirt colored, peppered with burst of colors from unexpected sources.

Like a lime-green plastic rack with men’s boxers out to dry.  

Or corn on a cake-dried soil, out to dry for a purpose unknown to me.  

Or a cement house painted in a color that sharply contrasts with the straw used for most. 

But we must walk to the Hmong village.

Even as I go, this town calls me back in the guise of a confused, surprised, curious little boy that stares at us passing.

And then it happens.   That one moment I will cherish.  A little boy in the balcony of his hut,  as I pass by, joins his hands as if in prayer (the way they say hello and good-by) and I see the beginning of a smile.  He has given me his respect and his appreciation in that simple gesture and he did it with a shyness that is absolutely disarming. 

At the Hmong village we go into the home of the leader. His wife is already there.

He joins us once we are settled.  

Children and part of the village follow us to the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music is important in Hmong life; we are joined by the village qeej player who plays for us.“A player must be trained; it takes years of practice to memorize the flowery language of the instrument. Its music contains the entire repertoire of Hmong knowledge and wisdom.” (Quote from Wikipedia)       

Villagers get a kick out of one of our tribe (aka: as the travel group) that gives it a try.

The village returns to daily life as we leave. 

We head down the hill where kids from our first village (Kia Luang Village) run along the waving good-bye.  I don’t think I have a heart left.  Been leaving a piece in almost every place I go!

Next is a cruise on the Mekong river “the mother of all rivers”.  The Pak Ou Caves, (which means Caves at the Mouth of the Ou River –Ou River is a tributary of the Mekong) is our destination.  But, as expected of this country, much to see before we board…

Another weaver and scarf vendor.  “Close your eyes!”  (That’s me talking to myself.)  I don’t need another scarf!  

An elderly woman looking at us pass.  Gosh, I am marveled by these faces.  

And the piece de resistance”: home made liquor stand.  I tried it.  The crystal clear one was my first taste and it burned my inside more than anything ever has!  Think it was 70% alcohol!  The cloudy one had a    slight sweetness to it and not as strong, but then anything would be mild after the first one!  The reddish one was actually not bad, much sweeter and passable.  And what can I say about the one with the snake?  No, I did not try it and don’t regret not doing so.  

Our captain and his boat.

  

There is a breeze that is refreshing.  The boat movements are just right, providing a “motion lullaby” that would put me immediately to sleep if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t want to miss the sights that the river offers me.

The Mekong glows.  The river is said to produce balls of light along its surface, which the locals attribute to the Phaya Naga, or Mekong Dragons.  I am starting to believe…    

Am I seeing orange?  Yes!  Monks bathing along the river.  

Are those cows?  No, water buffalos also enjoying the water!

  

And we arrive!  

Climbing.  Looking back.  Really just catching my breath.  Which the landscape takes away.

  

We head back. 

The Mekong shows its beauty. 

We arrive back to Luang Prabang.  Most of the group climbs on a tuk tuk to go to the hotel to freshen up before dinner.  I and other 4 head out with our guides to a local place to have a little appetizer and the local beer (of course) at a place where we will see no other white face but us and where they only serve duck in all its forms.  

The menu. (Not for the squirmish.) 20,000 Lao Kip to the dollar. 

The Westerners are brave enough only for the beer and the grilled duck –in that order.

  

Our tuk tuk driver, which has joined us, orders blood soup.  I try to look away.  Our local guide says he used to have it and like it but his cholesterol is high and was told not to order it any more.  Our Thai trip leader has never dared.  Two girls in the table next to us are merrily enjoying theirs.  Oh my!

We take a stroll along the riverside.  Luang Prabang is beyond quaint.  It is just a perfect combination of elements that produce a lovely peaceful “I want to live here” feel.

Riverside 

Side street 

Tuk tuk back.  Obviously there is no “hands-free” law here.  

Hotel pool looking mighty tempting now but no time.  Going to dinner with the group and then dragging myself to bed!

Tomorrow you must eat a hearty breakfast because we have a loooooooong ride ahead of us.

Ready?

Categories: Laos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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