Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm glad to hear that everyone is safe, and a big thanks to my roommates who moved my stuff out of the house in anticipation of the fire evacuation! After 20 hours of the worst train ride yet, another 12 hours on two tiny buses, and finally 45 min on the back of a beat up motorcycle over dirt roads i finally found my final destination... The last spot on my adventure of adventures was a tiny unnamed village inhabited by the unchanged Maio people of the eastern Guizhou province.

High up in the steep misty mountains of this subtropical region sits a village of people who have not yet been (and i hope never will be) touched by the Chinese modernization and tourism monster. While walking through their small dirt pathways dogs, pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, and rats nipped at my heals. The smell of small wood fires rose out of all of the beautifully rustic wooden cabins staggered into the foggy hillside, their black dragon scale roof tops poking out of the undergrowth. Each shack rested high above the banana trees, supported by large wooden stilts. Underneath the village flowed miles of beautiful rice patties cut deep into the steep incline of the rolling mountains.

While i sat above the village on a stone platform (used to hammer black ink into their traditional clothes) a young girl and her mother passed by carrying huge barrels of wheat hung from the bamboo shaft resting on their shoulders. The girl could speak Mandarin an unexpected gift in this remote minority village. They both wore these black dress like gowns with bright colorful patterns around their waist. Their hair (when not tied in buns) could run the length of their entire body. Another man approached, in all black with a strange white head rap. He carried a very long muzzle loading rifle, some gun powder, a huge knife, and a big smile. We talked for some time, i played them songs on my guitar, and as the sun began to set behind us they asked where i would sleep that night. Before i knew it i found myself in the indigenous wooden cabin of a warm maio family.

They prepared a strange small fish with some wild veggies over a small wood fire in the center of the one two room shack. With the freshest rice i have ever eaten, i had one of the best meals of the trip. Around ten other villagers had come to the shack to watch me eat, all dressed in their identical traditional garb. We men drank a strange liquor that tasted of sweaty socks while smoking some home grown tobacco leaves from long pipes. The women sang songs to the tune of a bamboo flute, their flicker tonal pitches carried into the moonlit night, it was incredible!

I spent the night in the tree house shack suggled warm next the burning fire.

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