Yai Gong, my 104 year old grandmother in the host family I lived with in Northeast Thailand, is pleased. She speaks only “Issan’” and I barely speak Thai. Her days consisted of sorting chili, making sweep sticks and chewing beetle nuts. No spoken communication happened by we shared watermelon and everyday she would ask about my wonderful teeth. One day I polished my nails and decided to pamper her too. Soaking her hands, putting lotion on them and finally a pale pink color. All the time she was very interested what was happening as I jabbered on in English, Thai and Lao. Finally, a small, sweet smile came to her face. Cultural exchange in a manicure.
The children in my village have taken me in at their big sister, calling me “kakak” rather than my actual name. It’s heart-warming. They love to take me to the sugarcane fields that surround our village. They run with knifes, and it makes me nervous, but it’s the norm here. Children run free here. I love this photograph because I actually let Sylvie, a 9-year old with very sticky fingers from the sugarcane juices, use my Canon SLR to take this. Whenever she sees this photo, she proudly says “aku aku” or “mine mine”.
I ate fried Mopane (Mopani) worms for the first time here in South Africa. Well, they are not actually worms, they’re caterpillars. So, I guess you can say that I’m officially an insectivore now. Mopani worms are a local delicacy especially for the Shangaan people. Sometimes they are fried and other times they are boiled. People eat them here like potato chips or popcorn. Eventually, if these creatures are allowed to grow, they will become a beautiful Emperor moth.
YOU can decide the winner of our People’s Choice category in the 50th Anniversary Digital Library Photo Contest! Click on the photo to go to Facebook and LIKE your favorite photo. The photo with the most likes on Monday, September 19, at 11:59 PM EST will be the People’s Choice WINNER!