I’m woken early this morning to the croons of dozens of roosters etching out an audio geography in the predawn cool fog of this village. For my morning pee I need to grab a headlamp, try not to step on the half chickens roosting on the rail and stairs of our homestay and cross the courtyard to an outdoor squat toilet, all of which makes me conscious of the privilege of indoor plumbing and will help me think twice about over-hydrating before bed.
We arrived in this village 宁边 an hour drive up into the mountains outside of Zhaotong city around 8 last night just as dark had fallen. We arrived at dusk and I’m writing this in the dawn, eager to see the sun break over our new residence, and to see and speak with our village hosts, whose faces in the dusk light were full of the same excitement, nervousness, and curiosity writ in our students’ faces.
Our journey yesterday was long, and began at 4.30am in a hostel in Beijing gathering luggage and piling onto a bus to the airport. Some hours of flight later and another masterly contract bus rendezvous later and our afternoon had us rumbling towards Zhaotong. We drove through hundreds of kilometers of green forested mountain, impressively cultivated low slopes, and yellow churning river water. Arriving in Zhaotong city we connected with brother Ling who drove in front of our bus showing us the less than intuitive windy track through the fog to our village.
We arrived after 16 hours travel to an amazing village-wide Miao welcome ceremony, with everyone in traditional dress inviting us guests one at a time through a series of bows and Sprite libations into their village courtyard. After the ceremony we gathered our group and sang back our 北京欢迎你 ‘Beijing Welcomes You’ song that we’ve been dutifully practicing for three days in the cracks between orientation activities and travel necessities. Our song was welcomed with applause and cheers and many twirling joyful children come to see us curios.
The sun is rising and it’s time for me to rise to the day. So looking forward to being here.