One of the things I love about living here in Laos is the friends I’ve made here, both foreigners and Lao. In my first few weeks of being here, I noticed an American girl with waist-length red hair come in a couple of times (okay so I didn’t know she was American at the time, but it’s a bonus fact). Didn’t take long for somebody to introduce us and us make a time to get together at the cafe. Since then we just keep running into each other whenever she comes into town or intentionally catching up for lunch or a hot drink. Mookie and I always have fun and deep conversations and I’m just so glad to know her. 😘😍
I finally made it out to her village this weekend!! She met a Kmut guy, fell in lurv, they got hitched, and now she lives with his family in a wooden village house aka treehouse. They work directly with the farmers in the village to grow specialised and organic coffee.
Dogs, chickens, and pigs are everywhere! Dinner is cooked over the open fire place in the corner of the room. Sheets separate the bedrooms and nets separate the mosquitoes from, well, the people. 😉 The bathroom is whichever tree best hides you from view! It all felt like camping, which I love, but forever, and with all your stuff.
I took a truck to get to the closest main village. Think benches along the covered trayback of a single cab, bags of rice piled high between the benches, people squeezed next to each other and perched ontop the rice. My severely limited Lao made for great laughter but we worked out I needed to get to the market, where Mookie, her (very funny) husband Ahn, and their visiting friends from the States picked me up.
We walked down to the river where we scrambled and jumped and waded from rock to rock around several bends. (No pictures but it was beautiful. Green trees, the odd vine to hold onto, manmade semi-dam rock walls, still, cool water.) Stumbled on a group of guys hunting for snails. Tried to find some ourselves. Failed. I successfully managed to not knock any teeth out and even remembered how to take a risk jumping rocks. 😉
I killed a chicken. Someone had to do it…! We plucked the feathers and ate it for dinner with sticky rice. So delicious.
We did yoga for a full forty-five minutes. I hadn’t done yoga before but I loved/hated/loved it.
We stirred the green coffee beans (they look brown but yes they are green at least in process terminology!) drying in the sun to ensure the beans dry evenly. I know so very little about the coffee process, but if my understanding serves me right, the layers around the coffee bean itself are fermenting or changing the coffee beans to a sweeter flavour, by being left in the sun. The external layer goes honey sticky.
We wanted to go waterfall hunting but the steep track down to the waterfalls were overgrown and impassable by thorns and bushes, so we only saw it from afar. What a view though! Though signposted, it’s not a touristy waterfall like others close to Pakse. Isn’t it a beauty?
Instead of waterfalling, we drove to a nearby river creek and soaked up the sun while swimming in the cold water amidst the rocks. Woke up the next day with a red nose.
The next morning we drove down to the big nearby village for a coffee at the coffee shop before dropping me off. The coffee both Mookie and co and this coffee shop make is really sweet and served black, very different to a cappachino coffee… people… traditionally think of. I am not a HUGE fan, but I didn’t mind it!
In between all of that we talked a lot about community, support, love, friends, village life, freedom. I had a blast just being with friends, new and old, getting outdoors and wet and in the sun, talking and listening, doing something different, and seeing the coffee bean process in the jungle! Mookie and Ahn are doing something special here. Doing friendships and developing this co-op is hard work. It feels like small steps. But it’s lasting. 🙂 I’m so thankful to know them and to have spent this time with them. (Make sure to check out Auxano Coffee and Seeds Coffee to learn more about their story and coffee!)