It’s almost competitive, the majestic of the sky and the mountains here. The mountains are beautiful and should make the clouds look smaller but they compete with such ease you can’t give either enough attention.
Our last day, the breakfast bell rings early. Pee Naan Jim and Pee Naan Tea have made breakfast special since we decided to climb the mountain today. They send us with two hard boiled eggs and five bananas each. Oh, and sticky rice, to the mountain. The entire crew of volunteers (minus sick Sophie) ascend with no sign of trail.
From muddy, snakey, spidery woods, we find dry, pine covered grounds as the view starts to subtly take. our. breath. away. The mountain ridge leads us to the misleading top nearly four times before we celebrate the peak with our humble feast. Everyone lays out, is quiet, ignores the thoughts of the inevitable and exhausting trek down.
Two parties split and mine is strangely welcomed as we accidentally climb into a local woman’s home. She sports a shirt that reads “I’m cute? No shit” and speaks no English. We speak no Thai, so our communication is brief. We rush the showers, and as I turn off the suspended hose, muscles strained, body clean, I’m the happiest. I look out on mountains and painted clouds on the walk to my bamboo hut (whose floor I’m about to fall through any day now).
The garden salla has become our coziest of meetings spots. After hard mornings of work, we retire in the shade to our books for hours until the sun sets. Volunteers come and go to the showers, to the kitchen, to the village, to their huts. Mad swarms of dragonflies occupy the recently weeded gardens and the row of four ducks hurry by.
We spend all our time living.
In the mornings, we wake up and make breakfast. Breakfast always includes sticky rice but we were lucky to catch the end of avocado season and I believe Niav is responsible for the introduction of some eggs, some potatoes, some pancakes? We pray ” every pee naan please go to the mountain and eat a lot. go for it. namaste. and live a long life” – Pee Naan Jim.
We clean. we work. we cook. we eat. we clean. we rest. we cook. we eat. we clean. we rest. we meditate. we sleep.
One lucky day, however, Buddha day, pee naan jim rented us a truck. 7 pee naans and a chicken in the back, we drove around the villages and through the mountains. Pee naan tea stops us in the road to crack nuts open with sticks for future snacking. We lose our way and end up in the front yard of a hot spring resort. As lions, we bask in the sun, bath in the river, and eat. We move slowly.
No plans, no schedule, nothing to get back to. Nothing that needs doing.
Pee naan Vince, ten years of dreads falling low beneath his hips, hands Niav his small knife to cut into the first egg of his feast.
“Is it clean?”