-Here's the gist of it: we had Christmas dinner and it tasted good. Then we opened presents and they were nice.
Then we had a week where none of our students called us back because
they are in "2012 Mode." In this instance, I mean exams are approaching, but it can refer to just a panic mode since every student I've talked to thinks the world is ending in 2012 thanks to the movie that just came out a year or two ago. Rational students who can't accept that God could exist believe in this superstition. Even many Christians think that we'll go down in a blaze of prophetic world catastrophes next year...because the Mayans said so...
-Last week, we had a class with a traveling professor from the States. Most of what we talked about was Philosophy. It was great, but it made me want to watch The Matrix more than
anything. I'm more and more convinced that lots of media and popular culture we as Christians grasp onto as Biblical analogy is not really that at all. The Matrix is so Platonic its crazy. And also very Gnostic with a little bit of whatever the Wachowski brothers ascribe to. But still a great movie and I want another opportunity soon to count how many times I think Keanu is thinking about String Theory while delivering his lines.
Right after this exhausting class in which my brain fried the first day, I rode my moped an hour back to the Gong, then got up the next morning to go to the village. "Village" is a common term used here. It can be a place where farming is done without 1st world ammenities. It can be used as an adjective, as in "that guy who just hocked a loogey on the street is so village" to mean someone not accustomed to civilized society. Additionally, normally when spoken in English by Chinese people, it comes out as "willage" which always elicits a chuckle from us still. As do when they talk about cooking "wegetables," "D-Wee-D's," and "Wee-C-D's." Real mature, I know.
Our helper invited us out about every week so we decided to go there. Our van broke down on the way (pretty standard) on the 4 hour trek there. The "roads" were nothing more than dirt mostly and roads that looked like they had survived a nuclear holocaust. It was a like scene from The Book of Eli except that the surrounding mountains were lush with vegetation still.
So upon arrival, we were surprisingly ignored. It was a mostly Cool village so I think they had either seen white people before or had been heavily coached (...threatened) not to smother us laowai by our helper. We looked around at the farm animals everywhere and the vast vineyards and gardens. We saw our helpers parents house which had just been furnished with som
e new furniture just for us. It was...colorful...
Then we jumped all over the chance to help with dinner. When asked to help kill the chickens we went to the back of the village to prepare "The Kill Room." Much different than Dexter Morgan, though we did use a cleaver (as seen). Josh and I were the only ones willing (or twisted enough) to confront our Dark Passenger and test our fortitude.
The trick was to first pin back the wings and pluck the neck feathers out pull the neck skin tight and... well I'll spare the rest of the details. All I know that it was simultaneously terrifying, exhilarating, and a little embarrassing since one of the chickens Josh and I "killed" started flopping around in the de-feathering pot after the initial shock wore off. I think this is the first thing I have killed other than bugs and having to hold it over the lake while its life left it was strange. I kept whispering to myself "circle of life, circle of life, circle of life" and remembering other lessons from The Lion King while I did it. It helped remembering this was the village where they laugh at you for not knowing how to gut animals.
Overall the people there were very nice. Many of the men were skeptical
of us and didn't show a lot of smiles, but they were glad we came I think. They treated us to the best parts of the pig that had been slaughtered earlier and described every dish to us even though we eat many of them every day here.
I've left out a lot of details that made it a hard day in an attempt to remember the village fondly. And also so I don't village up a lot of the rest of my time in China until I leave for Thailand soon.
(photos courtesy of Harrison)