Sowing Teeth

“The mountains are so dominant
that some days the people refuse
to look at them as children
turn away from the fathers who beat them.”
– Jim Harrison


We paid the villagers a dollar each to carry our tents and food and water mile after mile along the Dragon’s Back.

The humidity and heat like a backhand across the face as we climbed to a remote mountain fortress on the Great Wall of China.

A dollar. Think about that. They were happy for it – old women and children were less expensive than donkeys. I’ve never felt monstrous before, a Great White Father.

I know the Mandarin for “Foreign Devil”, said with a smile when we paid them. Yáng guǐzi. 洋鬼子

We spent our night in the Dragon’s Teeth.



Day 12, 28 Days of Unreason

21 thoughts on “Sowing Teeth

  1. Did someone say tooth or teeth? At your service!
    An evocative write. Feeling monstrous here shows you’re still in touch with your humanity. Life just isn’t fair.
    Like Jilly said, I hope you add to this…. makes me feel as if I’m on a pilgrimage. Where next after Dragon’s Tooth? Are we going to give our helpers more money?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I was actually going to give them more money, but the Chinese guides were like “No! No! Don’t do that, it would cause big problems!” I’ve never been able to work out exactly what problems it would have caused. Something to mull over when sitting in a Dragon’s mouth.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep. Something like that. Also maybe if they’d come home with $20 (which would still be ripping them off) and their husbands and fathers had spent the day in the field working for $5, they get beat up?

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It would be very much akin to what was happening behind the scenes in Cuba when it was about to be opened up for the Gringo/tourist invasion. Cubans were not even supposed to have American money. If they were given any, they were to IMMEDIATELY hand it over to a political honcho. (This, too, is why Socialism/Communism are listed among curse words in my dictionary.) “Big Brother is Watching” was not coined as a commentary on our democratic republic. Big Brother would have ended up with your money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there was definitely some sort of graft/grift involved in the whole thing. People paid off so we could pass through the villages and farms OK.


        1. More likely how my first words in Mandarin were “whisky” and “kung pao chicken” and “toilet”. Gotta get baseline survival in place before expanding your horizons.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. “like a backhand across the face” – the stinging feeling is carried throughout, like the baggage – literal & metaphorical Western baggage too. Nice bite at the end

    Liked by 1 person

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