Today we went to visit a family friends home. As usual we were offered snacks and tea but later we were served lunch. The young man of the house went out and came back with a bottle of red wine for me as he knows I enjoy drinking it. But of course, the traditional white wine was also served. When you drink you always ask someone to drink with you and so it goes round and round until the bottles are all empty! I don’t think I have ever had a meal where we left a bottle with liquor left over! Ever!
After this my wife’s sister wanted to go visit an old friend of hers and invited me to go. A small van came to fetch us and off we went. We left this small town and drove to where the roads became smaller and windier, leading us out into the country to farmland. The road became a narrow concrete path that was about double the width of a sidewalk just enough for one car!
About 30 minutes later we arrived in a small farming village where her friend lived. The village was nestled in a valley of farmland. We were dropped off and had to walk through the village to get to her friends house.
As we walked we passed a congregation of people who all turned to look at me. Not many foreigners came to this place and I was the focus of their attention, in fact I was told I was the first foreigner to visit that they could remember. They shouted out “hello” so I walked over to greet them and see what was going on. For fun they gather in an empty lot and play a game involving money.
We arrived at the friend’s house and I was warmly greeted. There was a flurry of activity to bring out chairs and, of course, snacks.
The homes in the village were very simple. As far as I could tell they were earthen structures made from compacted earth.
Then skim coated with a type of mortar. This makes it look like the houses are concrete but after many years the mortar falls away to expose the earthen walls.
It is really amazing how long compacted earth can withstand the elements. These homes have electricity but no heat and as the sun set the temperatures dropped. One thing that is hard to get used to h
re is the lack of heat. Although it only gets down to about 35 degrees, the cold is constant. From when you get up to when you go to bed you are cold and the only relief are the fire buckets! After two days of rain I am cold to the bone. But I am slowly getting used to it. Well! Maybe not!The bathrooms here, like many of the homes I have visited, are outhouses with a large pot sunk in the ground. Two boards are laid over the pot on which to stand to do your business.
We took a little walk around the village and into the fields. Here they grow rice and Mulberries. Since it is Winter the plants were dormant but in between the rows of Mulberry were
On our walk back to the house, we passed an old farmer on his way to pick vegetables for dinner. In the village chickens roamed freely.
On our arrival back at the house I learned that we were to be served dinner. My god! Just 2 hours before we finished
lunch and drinking! My wife’s sister told me just try and eat a little.
Again, there was a frenzy of activity as the table was cleared and the food brought out. Suddenly many people arrived for dinner. About 20 people from the family ranging from grandfather to the friends daughter! Meal time here truly is a family affair.
To my dismay bottles of Bai Jiu (White liquor) were brought out and opened. Sister must have seen the look on my face, she leaned over and told me to try to drink a little. We began eating and the food was really delicious! I found myself eating and eating. I was told everything on the table was grown in the village except for the Bai Jiu of course! There was chicken, pork, beef intestines and a variety of vegetables and eggs! The drinking began as well and we soon finished off the two bottles of liquor. I simply could not refuse to drink when asked!
After dinner we took another walk and found the friends wife, who had cooked our meal, beside a small pond.
She was washing the dishes from our dinner. This pond was used to wash clothes and dishes. At this point it was about 40 degrees outside and that water had to be cold!
This was quite an eye opening experience. I think I have now seen how a great many Chinese people live. I think I got used to seeing life in the cities of China and thought this that life was the norm. But now realize that a great many leave truly simple lives in small villages. Truly an eye opener.
Soon we said our goodbyes and returned to home in town. I was frozen and immediately sought out the fire bucket to try to warm up! Yes, even here in town at the house we don’t have heat! There is no escape from the cold!