Wednesday, November 12, 2008

sincerity in sapa

After our last Chinese bus ride (from hell) -- with the road washing away by massive rainfall and us waiting while the authorities blew another one into the mountainside -- we stumbled into Vietnam bleary-eyed and with grumbling tummies. Our English and Isreali friends were relieved of their guidebooks in China for political reasons, but we lied and kept ours. As we walked through the border station it was into a different world. Hundreds of motorbikes and people shouting English at me, decaying colonial architecture and crispy french bread. Oh, good morning Vietnam! I think I'm going to like you.

We got into Sapa in the dark and had an adequate (but due to the deprivation percieved as delicious) french meal with conversation on life and holidays in our respective countires. As the morning sun rose the next day, we found ourselves surrounded by verdant mountains and a cosmopolitan mix of once-insular people. Red Dzou and Flower Hmong filled the streets and the marketplace.  I met a Hmong girl named Sa, eleven years old, who stuck around me for the weekend. I learned through the grapevine that both of her parents died within the past year and that she had no where to stay in the village so she couldn't go to school. I felt guilt for teasing her earlier about not wearing Hmong traditional clothing, her mother's not around to make any for her.  She gave me a bracelet she made and wouldn't take the money I treid to sneak to her for it, so I bought her a chocolate tart and apples and oranges which she gobbled up into her tiny frame.

Leaving, a hot tear fell onto my skin as she took my hand and whispered, "If your friends come here, will you tell them about me?" Alone and yearning for love, I felt her pain once from across the world. The tear that fell was mine.

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