Unlike the other volunteering in Indonesia, Malasia and Cambodia, Sapa was a new experience, interesting and rewarding.
ZIZI’s Homestay is located in a beautiful landscape at the bottom òf a hill. All the scenery is astonishing, the rain has made up its way downhill and streams, rivers, waterfalls and tons of water irrigate plants, trees, ponds and rice fields. There are all kinds of greens in the forest; flowers, birds, crickets, the sound of nature is everywhere. Except for the noise of the power saw cutting the lodges of wood to build the roof of the house, everything was quiet and peaceful.
I followed the work of a very well organized team for a week. I took pictures and show them how their work was showing the effort. But some didn’t want me to take a photo, I don’t know why… it was just to show how the roof of the house was improving.
What amazed me the most and some guests as well, was the few tools they use. No screws, or bolts, or vise, or worm gear to hold the wood, just some glue and small round pieces of wood instead of a screw. They insert one log into another and hold it with the small round piece of wood, but before they use the glue to make the log steady.
It rains a lot in Sapa, but daily life continues as if nothing happens. Kids go to school, peasants work the rice fields, women tend the house and prepare meals. Motorbike drivers are experts driving up and down the hills through those small roads that get really floded after the rain.
I was supose to teach English to the kids of the houses around ZIZI’s Homestay, but they just came one day and then the rain stopped them from coming again.
One thing that I noticed was the lack of interest from the kids to the learning materials. They could play with them and have fun for a certain time, but afterwords they just threw them to the floor or tear them apart trying to recover them from another kid. The house has really good learning material but it seem nobody cares.
I saw one of the kids destroying a pen with a stone. Also the puppies, the mother dog had seven puppies but four died and the three left were going to be killed by the kids if I didn’t intervene. They are not toys and can be really hurt if the kids dropped them from a high table. When one of the puppies fell from the table because the kids were playing with them, he cried for so long that I ran to confort him, I was so mad that I talked to the kids in a strong voice, I didn’t care if somebody was looking or listening, or if they understood what I was saying, (I think they did know what I was saying from my gestures) I just wanted to take them to a safer place, they were so small.
Finally I took them to the dinning room and left them there. And when the kids came back to take them again, I asked Giem to help me telling the kids to leave the puppies alone and she did help me. They are also an attraction for the guests that pet them and cuddle them, they are so cute.
I told Giem that it would be a good idea to have some small stones to cover the mud outside of the next door house. When they moved us there because of the roof, it was a real mess. There is some cement to go few steps down the other house, but the rain mixed with the dirt makes it so insecure that the guests didn’t know how to hold themselves from not falling down.
Besides, there were some thailand guests that parked the motorbikes just infront of the path, so we had no way to walk on a steady ground.
Another suggestion was to take the fence infront of the house away, it blocks the amazing view that the house has when you are having breakfast.
And talking about Zizi, she is such a beautiful lady. She is a great mother, a good friend, a great cook, a hard worker, a strong woman and a sweet person. We became good friends and she made me feel at home, as well as Giem, Su and Binh. I felt part of the family and tried to help as much as I could. I helped her to wash the dishes, to clean the mess the workers were leaving behind, to pick up the sawdust from the logs, to swipe the floor and to talk to the guests.
I saw the guests going on 15 hours treks coming back all soaked but happy. They would have prefered to have a clear, sunny sky, but they had to stay 10 days like me.
When the weather was nice, (3 days of 10) I went for a walk. I could enjoy the amazing scenery, the river, women walking with big loads of stuff in baskets hanging from their backs, motorbikes with three or four people dressed in their beautiful costumes, smiling faces of kind and nice people.
They try to sell everything they can, from hand-made clothes to jewlery, food, vegetables, fruit and all the beautiful handicrafts these people make.
I had an incredible and enrichening experience with these amazing family, I really thank you all for letting me see and share a world from your perspective. I love you all!