Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Town Day Part 1

We went into the big city today and I took so many pictures that I thought I'd best split it up into three sections. This is the first which shows the song taos that we took back and forth. We were a pretty big group so we totally overloaded the usual group of workers and students and town shoppers. This meant that Ben, Zach, J, and I rode hanging on the back apparatus. It was nice to out in the wind caused by moving since by 7 am when we boarded it was already in the 90's. On the ride back we were joined by a large contingent of school girls who found the situation hilarious. Because we are a genuine rarity as white westerners in the area, people inevitably look on us with a double take. The usual reaction is to point at us and literally shout, "luong phalong" which means "white westerner" and then burst out laughing or at the very least a grin or giggle, sometimes to others in a group or sometimes simply to the wind. It is a response neither of genuine awe or derision, more of disbelief and hilarity, as if we were strange clowns brought to three dimensional life from the pages of a cartoon. Of course, if we thought we were living on the edge by hanging off the back of a bus going 50 mph standing on a rickety platform, our courage was put in perspective when mopeds like the one shown passed us, the girl sitting side saddle, not holding on, totally non-chalant. This sense of personal responsibility and the right to take whatever one sees as a reasonable risk is one I know many americans feel when going abroad. We have legislated safety to a point of effective relative security, but at what cost? I know I feel alive smushed into the back of a song tao, and though I know I would make a hell of a mess on the highway if the bolts gave way, I feel extraordinarily alive and free as well. The myriad dogs wandering the streets somehow avoid the cars, as do the toddlers and the cows. People wear helmets or don't. They soup up their mopeds and ride like bats out of hell.  Still, I suppose I am glad I am not on the ambulance crew...The view of the empty fields was what we were looking at until we hit the main road.

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