Saturday, May 21, 2016

From the memory bank

Sometimes my brain surprises me with what it drags out of my memory for my late night entertainment. Last night (or was it technically this morning?) it presented a vivid picture of a moment six years ago.

I was in southern China, shooting videos for a manufacturer of earth moving equipment. We spent a week of twelve-hour days in a quarry. No electricity other than batteries, no water other than jugs, no bathrooms other than peeing behind a boulder. (In hindsight, it was preparation for my current life.) And while the weather couldn't decide if it wanted to be annoyingly chilly or way too warm, it was certain it wanted to be suffocatingly humid. (The bits of genetic code we share with fish helped us breathe fog.) (However, the fog gave us excellent, even light and kept down the dust.)

When the weekend came, our Yank and Brit contacts decided to take the foreign crew members (three of us) off to Guilin, where we'd experience the local tourism culture and go for boat rides among the weird peaks.

But that wasn't the memory that had me laughing in the night. What I saw in the theater of my mind was five large Westerners zipping through city traffic and farmland on little scooters. Without our interpreters/fixers/handlers. Wearing ill-fitting helmets. And insufficient outerwear for the cool, wet day. Hunched over against the drizzle and wind. Led by the Brit, who sort of remembered the way from a visit a few years before, but who tended to drink too much.

And then, at a funky truck stop (which I supposed was the happenin' location along that stretch of rural road) was a guy drawing a crowd with a camel. Because... why not? It suckered us in. I didn't get a picture, though, because my hands were chilled and cramped. And my brain was still in I-hope-we-don't-get-run-off-the-road-by-a-truck mode. I think the five of us might have been the greater oddity that day.


  1. Great note, great memories, liked it !!

  2. A wonderful story and memory. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Al, have you learnt Chinese say: NI HAO MA? :)

    1. I said a LOT of "ni hao" during that job. And I gave a lifetime of thumbs up signs.

  4. Ni Hao--你好--Hello; Sheh sheh--谢谢--Thanks. So you know here you have Chinese friends following your wonderful journey too!