Playing with Mud
I feel like I could have easily dreamed up today. Jenny invited me to spend the afternoon with her and some of her friends. It had started to rain and she wasn't sure of the location of the hotel where I was staying, so when I received word that she was on her way I walked to the main road with drops of the afternoon shower falling on my skin. Not long after, a white Toyota pulled up and the window rolled down revealing a familiar face. Since I lack depth language to know what anyone is talking about beyond a surface level, everywhere I go there is a heavy reliance on constant prayer, trusting gut feelings and being aware. Was this a dumb idea? As we drove little outside of the city, I began to wonder. We pulled off the side of the road and parked. Alongside us pulled in a car with 4 other Chinese girls (Turing, Yvonne, Rikki, and Dorothy) who Jenny had recently befriended; they were traveling during their summer break from the university that they all attend in London. We all followed Jenny as she led us down a dirt path which was now muddy from the rain and past a couple village houses, until we reached our destination. In front of us stood a simple house made with bamboo and corrugated metal siding and a metal roof. To the left there were chickens and to the right was a large oven made out of mud. There was a dog barking, now aware of our presence. The large metal door slid open exposing am amazing pottery studio owned by Jenny's friends, Lynn and Horse. They had built the structure themselves as a place for them to live and work. Inside housed a small brick kitchen, two lofted bedrooms, with a living room complete with a hammock underneath the bedrooms, the rest of this open-air space was their studio. Lynn and Horse are both skilled artists (although she argues that he is better) with clay being their medium of choice, creating everything from tea pots to dishes, and anything else they can possibly dream up. Lynn and Horse source the clay that they use locally...and when I say that, I mean they go dig it up and bring it back to then make creations from it. They led us over to three pottery wheels which were set up overlooking their bamboo balcony and the river in the background. With either of them at our side giving instruction and helping to guide our hands, we each took turns throwing on the wheels. The rest of the evening was spent at their studio, talking, laughing, creating, and eating -- all gathered around a small table on the balcony feasting on Dai food and drinking from cups that their hands had made. Although everything seemed surreal, this is an experience and these are people that will remain in my memories for a long time to come.