Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Vietnam post

There is so much to talk about I can't even come up with a name for my posts. Do I want to tell about the lunch we had yesterday? We went back to my Father in laws for the second time. The dishes were more or less the same, but the mood was much less formal. More laughing. More relaxed. At one point my Father in law, Pop, put his hand on my leg and I held it for awhile. Unheard of, really, but totally comfortable.

We practiced our paltry Vietnamese while eating a kind of sweet and sour fish soup, stir fried cuttlefish (delicious) and grilled prawns, this time with the shell removed because Chi Leung realized that Americans prefer it that way.

For dinner we found a lovely sort of fusion place across from our hotel. The food was boring compared to the delicacies we have been eating, served with plain old soy sauce instead of the Umami bomb fish sauce combos that my sister in law makes. But it is the only place where we can hear the ocean instead of the constant thrum of motor scooters, so for 750,000 dong (about $60) we had 2 bottles of local wine, 6 or 8 dishes, including shrimp and wild boar, and a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label to go.

We went back this morning for coffee and french bread with fried eggs. They were the best eggs I have had in decades. Chickens work hard to scratch out their dinner here, but oh, does it pay off. The yolks were bright orange and stood to attention like sun soldiers on the white plates. We broke open the french bread loaves and stuffed them with the eggs. My husband ate these very sandwiches as a child. One every 12 days because they only had one chicken and had to collect eggs for over a week so that every kid would get a sandwich.

Back at the hotel, we cracked the Johnny Walker and got weepy listening to Nguyen tell us the story of the day he left Vietnam. It is all coming back to him. He has remembered the details all along, but last night described the terror for the first time. It was the first time he had seen the ocean, since he's from the mountains. His first time on a boat. Trying to go from a fishing boat to a huge American ship, in the dark, knowing that some of the people didn't make it because they got crushed between the two vessels. Sea sickness and terror as he watched the church they had spent the night in get bombed as they were pulling off shore.

It is almost impossible to imagine this live and let live people in the midst of a war. Just watching the traffic convinces me that they are essentially a peaceful bunch. I have seen nothing that even remotely hints at hostility, even when there was a minor collision between two motor scooters yesterday, one of which carried a man, his wife and his infant baby. Not even a hostile glance as they pulled apart and went on their way.

It is hard to imagine a war here.

Today, we are off to the market.

The internet connection is so bad I was unable to read your comments... so please know that I am not ignoring you all! I will check in when I can.

All Love,
Rachel

2 comments:

Widening Circles said...

I am enjoying reading about this trip. It sounds amazing.

Mary Beth said...

Wow. Just wow.

Nguyen's story...and his sharing it...blows me away.

blessings on your journeys.