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Taste the EXPLOSION - Rachel ??? ??? [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Rachel ??? ???

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Taste the EXPLOSION [Apr. 3rd, 2004|02:39 pm]
Rachel ??? ???
I got back yesterday morning from Yangjuan village. It was a 12 hour train ride and 6 hours of bus rides away into the cold mountains. It was also already described beautifully by Kayanna in her livejournal.
It was Kayanna, Pher, and I that went. Pher doesnt have a job right now, is dying in Chengdu, and likes to climb trees and knows the Chinese common name for most plants so I made him come with us. I guess he would have been of more use to me during the rainy season but oh well.
Upon arrival in Yangjuan we found out that an old mother in the village died. I had only read a bit about the Yi funeral customs- and we were very lucky to be able to participate in the events that week. The woman was a relative of Apo, Jzy Jzy, and Vusa (people that live/work at the school we live in).
YES so we arrived at the school and I was too happy to see everybody again and to be surrounded by that landscape. I realized a big difference from this trip and the first trip in how I am about my research. Before it was sort of overwhelming with unfamiliar things and not wanting to burden people with all my questions. Now I knew my way around, and after slaving away in lab for the last months I had my plan of attack on getting plants and IDing them quickly. I had a lot of energy to go back to the places I walked to the trips before and see how the colors changed, and talk to the locals more. That evening we gathered with some friends by the fire at Jzy Jzy's and caught up on things.
So the next day was friday right? yeah.. Everybody was to start the corn planting then, and we were able to go and watch and help. Pher started shoveling dirt and I made trips to the river the bring buckets of water to where they were planting. All the other people carrying water buckets were men and after a few trips carrying I finally won their approval and we laughed together and when they took a break I was able to sit with them and chill and actually felt sorta macho..yeah i can laodong. I am glad I had the training of carrying all those textbooks around UW.
That afternoon Kayanna, Pher, Vusa, and I walked to Baiwu. I got to test the river, buy Kouxianrs, and Kayanna and I bought Yi outfits which are very electric.
That night there was a pass around of Baijiu with Vusa and the new Mongolian bus driver that lives at the school.
On saturday we got up early, had breakfast, and walked to Ganggou. Kayanna got some interesting interviews done and I got to climb around the red hills. I met this little girl who came up to me and wanted to listen to me practice playing the Kouxianr..and I met her sister who had climbed way up a mountain to make me a bouquet of rhodedendrons- really heartwarming. We took a horse cart for a short ride towards Ganngou and the driver laughed and mentioned that if I was looking for plants I should go follow the stream in between these 2 mountains for a few hours and there is a big cave with lots of interesting plants. That afternoon in the village I asked some people about it and got more excited. Eagles live there.
The other caves around are often where they put the bones of the deceased- and I am not supposed to go in..so we decided to go look for this cave the next day. The rest of the afternoon was sun bathing and genetics and organizing plants to show Apo. That night was a gathering of people for the funeral...followed by more drinking and singing..which resulted in a fight between Vusa and the busdriver.
Sunday afternoon Pher and I left for the cave. We hiked for 6 hours. The wind was really strong and would trick us with weather. One minute it was so sunny and the next minute it was raining. We had no path, and were slipping and getting scratched up pretty bad. We found an oven built into the mountainside which was pretty cool, and lots of beautiful rhodedendrons. My lungs were shutting down on me and I was miserably sweating after 4 days of not showering and like magic a path appeared that led us to a grass clearing in a pine forest on top of the mountain. We could watch the sunset and set up camp. We cooked potatoes in the fire and played kouxianr till we got too tired. The weird thing was that the hill was covered in these imprints in the ground- like elephant footprints- about 6 inches deep and with 4 claws and maybe about 45 cm in diameter. They were all facing the same way- like a herd of yettis has walked up the mountain. AND there were horse teeth everywhere. I took one back and am going to make something out of it.
The next morning we packed up and tried to look for people. Finally we found some sheep herders another mountain over and asked them about the cave. They said there were no caves!! They showed us the way to get back to Yangjuan. On our way climbing back I found a big bright purple feather with a black and white striped tip. It belongs to a bird called a JinJi..or in Yi it is called Ha brr. Anyone know what that is?
We ran into another shephard and he knew about the cave..said it was amazing..with a pond with fish living in it..and not far but right on the other side of the mountain from where we had camped. So we trekked back and over the mountain and climbed down a cliff and walked for hours- collecting on the way ofcourse- and never found the cave. Everyone we talked to had a different story. After getting back to the village that evening I found out NOWONE HAS ACTUALLY BEEN THERE. Well, I will try again in summer to find it. Well anyways, we got back, had dinner, and went to the old mother's house to participate in the party. The body was dressed in pleated wool and a black/white striped skirt with the traditional black wooden headdress. She was wrapped in a white cloth that tied around 2 pine logs to make her carryable. There were colorful cloths flying through the air and young boys with firecrackers. The husband had a straw mat on the floor near where the deceased was and he sat and slept and smoked and wept. Other men were expected not to cry. Around the body was a gathering of women in their most colorful costumes wailing and crying the weapon song. Inside a mud walled room men were sitting around a fire. We got invited in and the host took out 2 bowls and went from person to person in the room- filling each bowl with hard alcohol made from corn. He drank a bowl, you drank a bowl. There were about 20 people there..and yes he was pretty plastered by the end of it. I got to watch them kill a goat by slitting it's throat and letting the blood it shed drain into a bowl which would later be added to the soup. The goat lay limp, and as they tied the rear legs it awkwardly jerked and then slow motion ran as if in a dream. A man grabbed it's head and broke it's neck...and the goat was cut up and added to the soup along with some buckweat cakes.
They household was wealthy. They could afford a yak which I was lucky enough to see them slaughter earlier that day. I got some pictures..I will put them on Fotki. www.fotki.com/falimar
It was incredible- the songs they sang and the colors and the jiu and looks from people. Very different from Han and especially US funerals. People were teasing eachother about crying and all. I liked it.
Went to bed early.
The next morning we woke up and walked with JzyJzy to a hill where about a hundred people gathered for the cremation. The body was surrounded on one side by crying women and the Bimo (shaman) sat with a red wooden bird and some plants in one hand and a bowl of rice and money in front of him. Everybody had to drink more corn alcohol and light small explosives. Pher made friends with an old lady there and they smoked some lan hua yan. We waited for the torch to arrive, and then the body was sat on a pile of logs and brushed with horsetail pine and covered with a layer of oak leaves and burned. They passed out yak meat in bags for everyone to take with them on their journeys home. We went back to the school, then to Pianshui to check out the ancient carvings on a stone and find out the they arent going through with the drinking water system in Laizigou, then to the sinkhole to do some last collecting. That night- our last night- was spent at Apo's. He went through my plants and Kayanna asked him some questions about the cash cropping situation and Pher kept cutting us off and talking for us- I know he was just trying to help but we need to talk on our own- even if it is slower and less clear. I think we were ready to kill him. At the end Apo asked us for advice..which was really startling. I hold such a respect for him and was honored that he asked us. I started to talk and first wanted to point out something about US being so culturally different from here and the Pher butts in and starts going off about America having no culture. So I shut up and gave up on trying to say anything. He had ruined it. Then Kayanna said under her breath that she had something to say but didnt want to bother cause she couldnt squeeze a word in. There was some hesitation, and then she finally started talking. I had to stare at Pher the whole time to keep him shut up. Kayanna's voice got all shaky and everyone leaned in to hear her. What she said was beautiful and made me start crying- and really touched everyone.
Kayanna and I got back and had a great venting session about trying to express things to people. It was loud and fun and we sort of hurt ourselves by enthusiastically jumping around in frustration.
So I have some nice null data points for the river and got more of the mapping done.
I have 70 plants now, and these some some uses of the ones I found this trip.
I got the Nuosu name and the Chinese name of all of them, so I dont need to do any keying out that is broad, just genus/species.
- if tummy aches boil it and eat.
- good wood for making furniture.
- can eat the hips
- use the bark and fruit to fight cancer
- contains Jian3 (is that lye?) use it to make bombs- gunpowder
- cook and feed to sheep/goats if they are sick
- if you have a broken bone, heat a branch and wrap it around the break.
- boil roots and drink to stop diarrhea. very very very bitter
- can strip big pieces of paper/bark easily. Give to the Bimo as an accessory.
- eat red fruits to cure cancers
It was a really fun 9 days..and really productive. Oh- and I got some of the villagers into Prefuse 73. Gonna bring them a bunch of cds in may.

[User Picture]From: dandroid
2004-04-04 08:22 pm (UTC)
i dunno. yea rachel!!! 5 more months!!!!!!!!
5 months!!!!!!
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From: (Anonymous)
2004-04-04 11:22 pm (UTC)

What's going on?

Wrong subject since I kind of know what's going on with you, hence the reason you keep a livejournal. But it just never tells the whole story.

Just wanted to say that I miss you and I won't be seeing you till January 2005 since I got an internship in East Timor. And that's pretty much all that's going on in my life. School isn't worrying me this quarter, I have no Jeff, no Casey, and really no Emily (my roomie) since she tries to spend as much time with her man. So I guess the next three months in Seattle shall be devoted to ME and planning for what the next year holds. Really, it isn't as depressing as it might sound.

Hope things are going well.

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