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Live & Learn

June 15, 2011

And now for something completely different

You may not believe this but my wife and I invented a new sport in Thailand. We were in the Live & Learn Department of the Peace Corps in 1971. This department sent out eager young peacecorians to collect data on successful agricultural methods in the Third World in hopes of replicating that success in other locations. We were studying the sweeping terraced rice paddies of Western Thailand.

One day, several Japanese salesmen on a tractor followed by a horde of baggage carriers on foot, made their way into our village, which was called SeeSee. This created a lot of excitement since the only sound these Thailanders ever heard from their farm equipment was the yawn of a water buffalo. After a few hours it became clear that this coccyx-bending trip had been a waste so the Japanese and their tractor planned to leave next day.

The Asians quietly took to their afternoon teas, prayers, and naps while my wife and I spontaneously took down the giant tortoise shell from the wall of our hut. We hooked it to a rope which we tied to the back of the powerful new tractor and terraced rice paddy skiing was born!

I drove first, my wife crouching inside the tortoise shell, hanging onto the rope, laughing quite hysterically, I think out of fear, joy, and dizziness. We glided down, terrace to terrace, the horrified Japanese flailing after us and our Thai friends laughing as usual.

That was the end of our career in the Peace Corp. But we bought a large parcel in the Smoky Mountains and have just about finished “terracing” 5 miles of trail. We should be open by next Spring. Our families think we’re demented but we say, “live and learn”.

One Comment
  1. This illustration is based on a photograph taken by Dennis Bayer, (actually taken in Bali) my old friend and stem cell transplant miracle on wheels, Endurance Cyclist for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team In Training and proud driver of 1953 Citroen Traction Avant.

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