February 4, 2010
Still in Laos, Rachel Flotard helps out the local community before heading to Hanoi, and embarking on what is bound to be a huge 2010. Big life lessons are learnt along the way.
Hello Converse rockers we’re live from Laos:
I’m imagining my drummer Ben Hooker’s HUGE size 14 feet as I type that greeting. (They’re like boats.) Besides being handsome, and gangly, and a general joy-thorn in my side, Ben is the backbone of rock music for me.
We’ve been writing songs, playing shows, and pitching jokes at each other for well over ten years. I miss him very much this morning, thousands of miles across the planet, as I wake up underneath mosquito netting.
In a few moments we’ll load the school supplies, soccer balls, boxes of pens, pencils, paper, and textbooks we brought from Seattle into a wheelbarrow. The seven of us will push it up a dirt road to the Ban Na Mouang Elementary School.
Not only do we get to see the new cement floor made possible by our Seattle friends and family’s donations (we bought the concrete mix!), but we get the joy of surprising 350 kids and their 10 teachers in person.
I can feel the heat and dust floating into the open bedroom window as I sit at this keyboard under the sill. There are no glass panes, only wooden frames. I can hear the bustle downstairs as the women of the household prepare the first meal of the day. Cutting fish, washing greens, and heating tiny stone stoves out back. They are strong, tougher than I could ever comprehend, and simply, geniuses of survival. When I say breakfast is from scratch, I mean they kill the chickens, and prepare them at dawn. Squatting and chopping on blocks, heating water to bathe in. This is life here.
So the next time I’m asked how “hard” being on the road is, or how “difficult” it is to be a woman in the music industry, I’ll think of the seven women that took care of me in their home in the Ba Na Mouang village. Some are the same age as me, their grace and skill is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met, and certainly puts any real hurdle of mine into perspective. I can only hope their strength rubs off on me by being in their presence.
PS. Here’s a photo of two female monks I met in the woods yesterday.
Solid proof you can be anything, or anywhere, you want to be.
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