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.