who ... moi?

a social butterfly: scared of much, but not of many. never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. not a fan of acronyms, snakes and angelina jolie. a HUGE fan of Fathead.

this blog is black for ENERGY-SAVING reasons.

thanks for your understanding.
if it's too dark, put your glasses on old one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

‘scuse me waiter, there’s a sparrow in my whiskey

the next day we woke to a better and brighter life.  the river that gushed around us was magnificent.  the palms were green, the birds were harmonic.  the wooden shutters from our room opened to reveal a lovingly manicured garden of flowers.  all was right with the world again.

goodness, don det was just too beautiful  and we were itching to explore it.  grabbing our day packs and cameras Fathead and I “hit the road” and decided we could circumnavigate the island in a matter of hours.  as soon as we left the tiny strip of bean-bagged riverside decks and cafes the island’s landscape opened up to reveal endless fields of fluffy green rice paddies. 

the locals lived in simple reed and bamboo huts scattered in between palm trees and fields of water buffalo.  the children ran along the dust tracks with homemade wood and wire wheely toys, their adorable toothless smiles greeting us as they scuttled past.

it was gorgeously hot as we wondered further and further along the loop round.   we’d been walking for about 2,5 hrs and it was then that, as if to notify us of the halfway mark, an enormous pregnant cloud settled above us, and promptly delivered the monsoon that it’d been carrying.

we ducked under the menial cover of a coconut tree and frantically wrapped our bags in poncho’s.  should we wait? we were in the middle of nowhere.  nah, we’re going to get wet anyway …
so forward we marched.

the thing about dust roads is that when the rains come, they transform into slippery, shoe-sucking gauntlets of mini rivers and mud.  each step had to be slow, so as not to break our only pairs of flip flops. and so we embraced the torrential shower, had leaping competitions of the enormous pools that swelled in the road and basically got soaked to the core.

about 1,5hrs later the cloud was empty and dissolved as fast as it had appeared.  the blue skies returned and as we laughed about the ridiculousness of our situation, the sound of giddy singing voices and drumming approached us from behind.

the voices were carried by a local truck – much like the kind we use for open-air game drives, back home.  the singing grew louder and as they splashed past us we saw about ten don detans banging empty containers against the poles of the canopy, hands clapping and the happiest mouths wide with song.

100m down the road, the truck stumbled to a slippery halt and arms from all directions waved out of the sides of the truck.

oh yes please!  we’ve been saved!

hurriedly we made our way to our knights in rusty armor, who help us clamber up .   the truck bounced on, the singing commenced and we were thrust our own instruments of percussion – an upturned bucket and an empty coke bottle.

no one spoke english but we chatted away in laughs and gestures and pats on the back.  and then, an old lady flashed us her most menacing smile and handed us a bottle.

“lao-lao” she said, gesturing for us to drink.  lao lao is the local whiskey – usually flavoured with some poisonous creature.  up until now, we’d seen snakes, scorpions, spiders and bumble bees  decaying in knarly bottles of this brownish liquid.  but this … what is that?  a sparrow?!

Fathead took the first swig and I watched his face to gauge the damage I was about to inflict on my liver.  it’d be insulting not to accept this local gift of hospitality … but the smell, and the bouncing roads … and the sparrow …

i took a deep breath and swallowed.  it burned. it tasted like ethanol. the truck continued to jiggle us about, and the burning continued its path of destruction down my esophagus.

i don’t remember much more of that ride, but suddenly we were standing outside out hostel, drenched and feeling slightly toxic.  we slipped and slid up the stairs to our room, where we found brody and dan – dry and amused at the state we’d arrived in.

laos was off to an interesting start.

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