Tapioca – Who knew?

My tapioca field

I’m sitting in my small corner looking out a door and window at the small farm my wife and I enjoy so much.

 Mango trees, lemongrass, hibiscus and many things I only know the Thai word for adorn my view. We have four Lee-la-wadee, the Thai name is so nice to say. They are the trees that have flowers that Hawaiian leis are made from. One is filled with burst of white flowers and the rest are a hue of red, purple and yellow all together to form beauty.

 I go about my day working, writing and just walking and I used to—every once in a while—want for conversation in English. It didn’t happen often but when it did my only outlet was my wife. That’s not a bad thing but sometimes I have things on my mind that I want to share and get answers from others. I can speak Thai but I’m not able to carry on long intellectual conversations. Thai is a simple language compared to English and even though I know many words and phrases I do often get lost. Words strung together which I know, come out making no sense. The Thai language has a word for yes and no but are rarely used in speaking.  Yes-No, means Do you agree? No-yes, means No or I don’t agree. Many questions are answered without ever using yes or no. I would ask a question and then have to run to my wife for the answer. Why couldn’t they just say yes or no?

 So when I wanted to have a conversation that I would enjoy I would have to talk to myself—in my head of course… well, most of the time. I found that this has helped my writing. I work out plots, argue out points of view and even come to consensus over where the story should go. The more I think about it, I realize I’ve done this most of my life but many times didn’t have the time to really listen.

 Now I’ve discovered the social media and it has brought friends, new friends and a wealth of talent to my door step. And they come from all over the world! I was really frightened to take the first step into Facebook, Twitter, and now blogging. I’m still uneasy about posting blogs. Why would anyone care about what I might be doing or thinking? I have friends at Twitter to thank for the encouragement and pushing me along, lifting me up and dusting me off when I fall. I would have never believed it before I tried it.

 Now, I still spend much of my time alone with my writing and farming and viewing this exotic place I live, but I also have so many great people to look to and get a pat on the back. If I miss a day of checking on friends I feel something is missing.

 Back to the point– I think. This season we’re growing tapioca as the main crop. When I first came here I thought tapioca grew on trees as tiny clear balls like I saw in pudding. Don’t laugh.

 We went to visit my wife’s sister and when I found out she grew tapioca I rushed to her big field and asked, “Where is it?” Not a tree in sight. Pi Juop laughed and pointed at the big field of large bushes. I lifted the large leaves and wanted to know where the fruit was.  I would like to tell you that my sister-in-law thinks I’m the funniest person she’s ever met because of the dumb questions I ask. Sometimes she sits on the ground and laughs while I look on wondering, “What?”

 Since the tapioca was nearly ready for harvest she got her hoe and dug one of the big bushes up and showed me some big potato-like tubers and again laughed at my confusion.

 Tapioca grows underground! Can you believe it? And it’s not just for pudding! It is dried for flour to thicken sauces, as body powder, meat and veggies are rolled in it and fried and a lot of things I’m sure I don’t understand. It can also be baked like a potato but I don’t recommend that to a real potato eater. Who knew? Not me.

 I hope you have enjoyed this post. I really would like to hear from you. You can even use big words—I have a dictionary.

A Writer in Thailand- the beginning

My first trip to Thailand became the journey that set me to return again and again. I was working and living in the Marshall Islands—two thousand miles west of Hawaii far from any other land.

I had been in a war in Viet Nam and I fell in love with Asia. Even in the middle of a conflict I found the people exotic and interesting.

I arrived in Thailand with friends and like most young men I was there to relax and enjoy the beautiful women. We were on holiday between contracts. I walked into a clothing shop where handmade tailored apparel was quickly produced. My first sight as I stepped through the door was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. All my dreams of an Asian beauty were culminated in her. She looked up from her work and our eyes locked. Being a stumbled-tongued young man I could only stare as my brain shouted, “Talk to her!”

Her English was poor but better than my Thai—since I spoke none. Her first words were, “Do you need a tour guide?” “Yes,” leaped from my lips and we arranged to meet that night. I had no idea what to expect but I knew I would agree to anything she had in mind. She admitted later she had never done anything like that before- but could see my heart was good.

We spent a month touring all of the beautiful places in and around Bangkok and the nearby sea. My friends were off to the nightclubs for fun while I visited temples, street markets, and places of Thai history. She began to teach me Thai and I was determined to learn so I could express myself to this beauty.

Later I often wondered how we got along so well. Neither of us could do more than speak in broken language, using our hands and smiles.

She took me to the sleepy little village of Pattaya—which is now a major resort area. At the time there were a few hotels and one nightclub that I remember. We spent our days walking and exploring and even hired a fishing boat to take us to the outlying islands. It was magical and I was completely in love with the country and this exotic beauty.

Thailand then and even now is a bit like going back in time to a slower pace of life. The heat requires one to slow down as it seeps into one’s bones and relaxes.

I had to return to the Marshalls and all I could think was how much I would miss Thailand and this rare flower that had captured my heart. I spoke the words I had never said to anyone before. Fear of those words was somehow ingrained in me not to say aloud. I told her I loved her and tears came to her and I thought I would be lost in her eyes. She spoke in Thai and then in English, words I never thought I would hear. She loved me! We made pledges and exchanged addresses—no email in those days—and I prepared to leave.

I returned to the beautiful Pacific but my heart stayed in Thailand to be nurtured and held close. We wrote often and I had never put so much energy into writing words of love in a language that was so foreign to me. I had an English-Thai dictionary and two book on learning the Thai language. She had similar but also had a number of letters translated to English. Later we would laugh at my attempts but it was the effort she loved.

Julee, my exotic beauty, became my wife and I brought her to my world with hope that we would one day return. We visited a few times and she went with our young children several other times while I had to stay home and work. Our children endeared me to her family.

We have been married thirty-five years and have lived in Thailand for the past seven. My writer’s life would have not been possible if not for my exotic beauty!

My books:

In
Search of a Soul
– A Sea Adventure

http://www.amazon.com/Search-Soul-Dannie-C-Hill/dp/0982692420/
(Paperback)

http://www.amazon.com/Search-Soul-ebook/dp/B0048ELAJY/
(Kindle)

Tyler
Hill’s Decision
– A Young Adult Adventure in the
Appalachian Mountains

http://www.amazon.com/Tyler-Hills-Decision-Dannie-Hill/dp/0982692404/
(paperback)

http://www.amazon.com/Tyler-Hills-Decision-ebook/dp/B003UNLJYU/
(Kindle)

Outer
World Prairie,
A Fantasy adventure coming later this year.
For a look at this upcoming book go to my website.

http://smallmountainpub.com/comingsoon.htm