Saturday, December 24, 2005

Hat Trick

A little less than a mile into the walk, we saw a few Dai houses clustered together about a quarter-mile away from the paved road. We didn't think the settlement was big enough to constitute village 1, but we turned left onto a dirt path to investigate anyway.

The path cut through a watermelon field and led us up to a structure that looked like a small, run-down barn. As we got closer, we heard dogs barking loudly and their tails wagging, thumping obnoxiously up against the wooden walls. Any chance we had for a stealthful entrance was thwarted.

I started to get a strange vibe. I felt more like a criminal intruder than someone who came to bring life through the gospel. I'm not sure if Steve felt the same way, but in any case, we somehow decided that it was too early to press our luck by getting too close. We flung a VCD near the door and turned back toward the main road.

Before we reached it, I noticed a storehouse in the field next to the road. A bamboo grid formed the skeleton of the pitiful structure, and a multicolored tarp covered its top and sides. Curious, I peeked inside, wondering if anyone could possibly be using it this early in the morning.

No human life, but I did notice a tattered straw hat hanging from one of the bamboo posts on the inside. It no doubt belonged to a farmer, and probably one that lived nearby, considering the proximity of this storehouse to the nearby homes. I was sure the hat would be put to use sometime in the near future. Agriculture is the Dai people's livelihood, and I had yet to see a farmer working in the hot sun without the aid of a straw hat. An idea came to me while looking inside.

I caught Steve's attention, telling him to wait a second. Then I tiptoed inside the makeshift shelter, pulled out a VCD and slipped it under the hat, balancing it to make sure it didn't fall out. When the owner of the hat came to work in the fields, he would have no choice but to find a seed I had sown.

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