Tuesday, January 16, 2007
A Labor of Love
So yesterday was a day that I often crave as a traveler- it was one of those days when I truly felt out of the “tourist bubble” ; a day when I felt I was neither the observer nor the observed…..
A group of us from my bungalow (3 Germans, 2 French, 1 Dutch, and me, the sole American) got on our bicycles and rode a 40km trek across our island of Koh Lanta….it was my first time on a bicycle here so I was excited to leave the tourists and 7-11’s for a few hours and enter a part of the island that was still truly connected to its past.
The beauty of this whole ride was that we were delivering a box of money that was raised at a fundraiser at our bungalow for 2 sea gypsy families whose homes had been devastated by the tsunami 2 years ago. However, when the families were first asked what they needed to help them get through this difficult time, they humbly responded that they didn’t need a new home- just some equipment to help them fix their 2 fishing boats – so they could catch fish, start their family business and eat again….
So a free dinner was set up at our bungalow and people donated anonymously into a homemade wooded box with the phrase “Help me float again”……and the gypsy families were also there to enjoy the meal and festivities.
The picture of the family that I included here shows the moment they realized that we had brought them the money for their boats….a moment of both sheer joy and humble gratitude….A little over $1000.00 (US) dollars had been raised for the families- this is equivalent to about a half year’s salary for the average Thai so needless to say, they will now be able to fix their boats and become self-sufficient again.
It will be a moment that I will not soon forget….it was yet another reminder how the “little things in life” can literally change people’s lives in a moment….a great lesson to remember on a daily basis.
The bike ride itself was both beautiful and a bit grueling in the 90+ degree heat and rolling hills that soon felt like mountains after the first hour ! But I felt a bit like I was on my own “Tour de Lanta” as every house I passed, the children and families would cheer a big “HELOOO !” to me and smile and wave . I am sure they must have thought that we were all just a bit mad to be riding on such a hot day….
And, oh yes, I would like to report that I represented the U.S. well in this ‘race’ ….I finished first amongst all the nations represented….and “No, I did not take steroids”..:)
Hope you are well….
Sawatdee ka for now…