02 January 2009

rice and rivers and soul-cleansing

2 January 2009

Long skirts are not ideal for biking through rice paddies at high speed. When we hit the final stretch and, of course, a big unavoidable mud puddle it inevitably got a bit messy. I’d been following a boy on a bike for nearly 20 minutes, taking a side path off of the main road in the village to head directly for the rice paddies and the river Zio. We passed several families out working in the sun – the women still had their hair piled up in extensive braids from the New Year fete. – As they bent over their stiff knee- straight legs resembling small tree trunks rooted in the marsh, they reached into the mud to do whatever it is you do to cultivate rice (this is a gap in my knowledge that I should remedy) and their beads at the ends of their braids click-clacked audibly.
But we only had time to wave, shout greetings and continue our destination was the river, where three of my friends were preparing to be baptized. We pulled up along several motos and joined the gathering crowd (I discreetly brushed off mud splatters on my skirt and legs.) Pasteur B walked into the water - it reached his chest – and the women on the shore started to sing songs of cleansing, Jesus’ sacrifice, and joy to the accompaniment of the crash of water cascading over rocks on the other side of the bridge.

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