After watching England's dismal draw with the USA in the World Cup from 2.00-400am (yawn), I managed to rouse myself for a lunch appointment with an old friend and ex-VSO volunteer Jayne [left in photo] and the most recent bunch of Lattitude volunteers who I was training a mere six months ago - now confident and experienced teachers in China! It turns out they also represent some of the many "secret readers" of this blog! It was good to see them once last time and hear their tales before they head back to their respective countries.
We spent the afternoon in the company of the LEAF family, on one of their legendary walks through the tea fields around Simao. What started as a concrete path in the warm sunshine soon dissolved into a mud slope in the rain! But getting lost and finding little surprises is what it's all about. Freda and Edie are very knowledgeable about the local plants, wildlife and culture and happily chatted with Ava (in Chinese!) for the duration of the walk. It was nice for me to catch up with Lesley and Ali and hear what their longer-term future might hold, depending on what happens in the next few weeks.
The most intriguing discovery on the route was a small overgrown building, half-hidden in the bushes, with amazing hand-painted Mao Zedong portraits above each door. A glimpse into China's not too distant history. None of the locals we spoke to were sure what the building had been - a storehouse? a school? a military barracks? (OK, the last one was just my fanciful idea!). We made our way back to the town and our favourite Muslim restaurant with the two girls covered head to toe in mud... "Ava said it's good for our skin!"
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