August 7, 2012
When I’m home, I always have projects to do that take gobs of time. Or, I’m having gobs of fun. The next three weeks, I’ll be having therapy for my hip three mornings a week plus other doctor’s appointments, and my blog may be quite sporadic. I wonder at times like this how our travel companions who were severely injured in the May 27th accident are faring? I’m back revisiting my 2006 trip to China, and, suffering embarrassment as I was reminded that I had blogged my China trip last year. I totally forgot. Maybe it was the bap in the head during the accident that made me forget. In any case, UNESCO made this cemetery a place of interest because China has not allowed burials for over 200 years. All bodies by law must be cremated. This rare cemetery belongs to the minority Yi people, and we visit their nearby village.
The minority Yi living here are poor. The place is littered with garbage.
Raw sewage runs through the town in these runnels. They have electricity now, fairly new for them.
The streets are narrow; the buildings show their layers of history from old to ancient.
The major crop for them is corn. They raise pigs and we see dogs and wonder if they are raised for meat rather than pets.
The people mostly ignore us or hide their curiosity. Like most minority villages, they work together and share the work and the harvest.
And, like old China, women go to work in the fields with their babies on their backs.
We saw women and children and our group engaged them. The child with the mother in the blue sweater was scared of we big noses and ran away from us.
She managed to bring him close to us. Vicki told us, do not give these people money and turn them into beggars. But, here we see that a member of our group did it anyway, and the little boy in red has his hand outstretched for more. The Cemetery is a new UNESCO site and soon, these people will have a steady parade of tourists with money in hand. Handouts warp their way of life, rather than enhance it.
The children seem quite happy and well fed.
Who are we to decide their lifestyle needs improving? The minority people are allowed two babies per family. The government handed out condoms and demonstrated them by slipping them on their fingers. On the next visit, they found condoms on fence posts, hanging in the windows and on bushes. The people thought they were magically going to work by having them around.
Superstition is handed down from generation to generation. Some of the practices of the minority people in the region are pretty strange. These Suni-Yi believe spider webs are good luck and will not break up a web. The Wah minority favor rat meat. In older times they lent their wives to friends, or two sisters were allowed to share one husband. Some Wah are still nomadic. Girls live in white tents. Any man can fornicate with her because she has to have a baby to prove that she is fertile before she can marry. But, the tent is guarded by a dog and the man must fight off the dog with stones and fists. The government discourages these old rituals and practices with some success.
We leave the area thinking of the vast differences in culture there is in the same country without the influence of immigration as in our own melting pot of diverse cultures. We are truly stepping back in time, here.