Archive for June, 2010

may your feet always be swift.

Monday, June 28th, 2010

With our friend from the states visiting, we undertook a (what we didn’t know would be so) major project to build soccer goals for the talented and fierce kids of rural Bo He village.

The men folk, B and friend, put in laborious days of metalworking in the heavy Lao humidity.

Our Lao friends and PoP supports stopped by daily to help cleanup, paint, and serve the boys beerlao.

Once in Bo He, the epicness of the project was far from complete. Villagers had to carry the goals down the hill, across the bridge, up through the village and to the school.

But then, the rowdiest, far-better-than-any-world-cup-game, commenced.

And when we left Bo He, sufficiently exhausted and Beerlaoed, a group of primary school girls, their skirts knotted up around their waists, were tied up in a raucous game, mimicking their new Lao city friends, determined to be serious ass-kicking females.

ah, but i may as well try.

Thursday, June 24th, 2010


I knew I shouldn’t. I knew it wouldn’t work out.

I tried to take the quickest route to semi-success; I flipped the teacher the finger and dove right in.

And I drowned.

My Lao is shit. I order fried forest instead of fried fish. I tell village elders I have too much pubic hair when I want to say I’m sleepy.

So, it’s back to basics for me. Back to where I know I should have started in the very beginning, but those damn squiggle letters and the multiple pitches and tones were just too intimidating. I know learning starts from the ground up. I know this. I just don’t want to know this.

My (very patient) friend Ya now comes over every morning with a Lao work book and I practice my alphabet. I practice squishing consonants and vowels together in my mouth in that ever-so-gentle, lyrical way. I move my tongue around and play with sounds that my vocal chords have never before known.

I sing the vowel song in the shower and chant myself to sleep with tones.

And I accept that before, I cheated. And now I must start over. One rising pitch tone at a time.

riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

Thursday, June 17th, 2010


My boy’s got a brand new toy.

(Well, newish.)

Here, in the land where fantastical dreams become our ridiculous realities, B is outside in the thick midday heat, tearing apart his new bike. Fenders are flying, girlfriends are stressing over tetanus, sweat is pouring, and B is loving it.

Second only to building a jetpack, gutting a motorcycle has been a major lifelong aspiration for him. And everyone here thinks he’s completely nuts for it. If you have a new bike, why do you want an old crap one?

We’re currently working on getting the correct translation for, cause it’s badass, duh.

dont feel bad, it’s the best food I ever had.

Saturday, June 5th, 2010


Major former-vegetarian confession coming: Grilled duck is fucking delicious.

It’s succulent, tender and juicy as hell.

A brief history of my foodieism: My life-long vegetarianism started as a general dislike of meat. As a kid I pushed the pot roast around my plate, horrified by the smallest glisten of fat, until incurring sufficient sympathy to be excused to pour a bowl of cereal.

As an adult, every piece of animal product tasted wrong to me, and I went vegan. Living in both San Francisco and Portland, I ate (and loved) homemade veggie burgers and oven-baked sweet potato fries and avocado salads. I checked labels and asked too many questions at restaurants.

And slowly it became no longer a simple preference of taste, but an environmental clearance. The raising of farm animals, the long transport routes, the packaging. To me, it equaled a seriously negative footprint.

But with this stance came a catch I repeated endlessly: If I lived in a place where eating meat was sustainable, I’d do it without another thought.

Fast forward to life in SE Asia, and it was time to make the change. Practice what I preached. Love the duck. Chew the fat.

I hesitated for a moment at my first blood soup and my first fish belly, but in the end, everything about the way we eat here is sustainable. I watch my eggs be collected, my chickens die, my fruits fall from the tree.

I eat organs and suck bones dry.

Because here, nothing is wasted. What we eat is a part of who we are and how we live. Everything is connected in an integral way that benefits our health, the stability of the land, the success of the crops and the vibrant, communal, food-driven culture.

Now in Asia, I chew that fat with pride.