I haven’t taken many photos during my time in Sakor. The way I want to remember this village is through my own intangible memories: the scent of lavender growing by the side of the road, the smiles of children calling “Hello!!”, the taste of my homestay mother’s mouthwatering potato dish, and the beams of sunlight slanting down from the clouds to the great green mountains.
There are two photos, though, that I will cherish for a long, long time to come. Ironically, I didn’t take either of them. One is a snapshot of my first day in Sakor. Madeleine, Makayla, and I went on a walk with our homestay sister Sangjiecuo and came across three elderly men sitting on a sunny hhill. They were sharing milk tea and fried bread, and they were happy to share when we came along. With translations from Sham, our local leader for the week, we managed to communicate our appreciation for their kindness and warmth. They, in turn, gave us advice, shared jokes, and thanked us for spending time with them. The men told us that they had thought they were too old for young people to want to talk to them; we eagerly assured them that we were happy to hang out. At the end of our picnic, Madeleine took a picture of all three men. They gazed at the camera, smiling more with their eyes than with their mouths. I remember saying that I wanted all three of them as grandpas.
The other photo was taken today, Sunday, our last full day in this breathtakingly beautiful village. Madeleine, Makayla, and I stand next to our entire homestay family (minus our ten-year-old brother; he was taking an afternoon nap). Four generations of love, generosity, and laughter are captured in this one photo. Even without this picture, I could never forget the kindness that they have shown us. I’ll remember playing cards with the kids, slicing potatoes with the mother, and laughing as I willingly ate more dinner after our great-grandmother repeatedly urged me to.
I leave this town with both memories and digital photos. I’ll cherish both for as long as I possibly can, holding in my memory the most beauiful place I have ever been and some incredibly beautiful people.