As our time in the village is coming to an end, we want to make the best of the last few weeks here. Of the five admin villages in this township, we have been to four of them. So before we leave, we wanted to see the last village.
HIKING WITH A STUDENT BACK HOME
Every Friday at 3PM, the 260+ middle school students hike home from school for the weekend. Most hike between 2-4 hours to go home. So Annie and Jonathan asked to hike with a student back to her home which is located in the last village we have not yet been. It is a 3.5 hour hike to her place. The children were left home to be cared by the grandmother.
Hiking with the student gave us a taste of what they do every week, making the round trip each weekend. As it turned out, there are about 10+ students who live in that particular village so it was a fun hiking party with lots of laughters and conversations. We brought some sugar cane and all of us had one to chew on while we hiked. We also brought our horse but didn't ride on it much. It was more just to enjoy the company of a horse before we have to sell it in a few weeks.
It was a long trek, but fortunately, mostly level dirt road, except for few very steep upward climb. We got to the student's house at around 7PM.
SPENDING THE NIGHT AT THE STUDENT HOME
The natural village the student live in is high up at 3000m on a mountain ridge. When we walked into the village, all the neighbors came out to observe the spetacle. As it turned out, all these "neighbors" are close relatives, uncles and aunts of the students.
The houses villagers live in are simple. The walls are made of mud bricks and logs. Inside this family of four, there is a central firepit for cooking and warming. On each side is a bed to sleep two person per bed. Their potatoes, household items are strewn in different corners. Preserved meat are hung on the roof.
One by one, all the relatives and neighbors and their children dropped into the student's home. Soon we had about 20+ people crowded into a small dirt room with a fire pit in the middle for cooking and warming up.
The family treated us to some ham and vegetable for dinner. Some of the relatives bought some snacks and drinks to treat us. At first, some of the men who can speak better Mandarin kept praising us and putting us on a pedestal. After awhile it became rhetoric. So Jonathan decided to change the atmosphere by singing a Christmas song for them all. The deal was that for every song we sing someone else would also have to sing one.
It was fun to see them trying to get each other to sing except for themselves. They would often said that so and so because of so and so would represent them in singing. One 3rd grade girl sang particularly well. Many of the men also sang very good Yi language songs full of feelings. Hearing them sing made me want to learn an Yi song so I videotaped one song to learn.
It was a fun evening to just enjoy how they live and to bond with them. I am sure we were a rare evening entertainment for them.
VISITING OTHER STUDENTS
After a very cold night on their straw bed with cold wind blowing on the face, we got up and got ready for another day of hike. Since we are here, we wanted to visit other students who live in nearby natural villages. The trails here are very steep and sandy. We kept sliding and falling on the ground. To reach other villages, we had to hike up and down mountains. Surprisingly, we felt okay after our 5 months training here. After 8 hours of hiking and visiting, we arrived back at home.