One guide inLaos shared his aspirations with us by the end of our time together. In his early thirties now, with two children and the intention to have a third, he is aiming for a life that goes against the pressures of Asian economic growth and urbanization. So many rural people acrossAsia, including the Lao, are trying to move off the farm and into the city. This apparently is most true for women here whose lives are particularly hard and constrained by tradition.
But he wants to go back to the farming life he learned growing up. In our time together, we discovered how much he knew about agriculture and food. And he believes that living off the land and using those skills is a better path for him and his family in the face of an increasingly uncertain future where most people have lost basic subsistence skills. He even has the economics figured out too, such as how much a duck will fetch on the market and the days to get it to readiness.
So he dreams of buying a farm on the Khan river within five years. First, he’ll move his relatives (his parents and his wife’s parents) to the farm to start developing the land. On weekends he will bring his children to learn the skills they need and be with their grandparents. Then, within a few years, they will all move there completely. His old age pension? He expects that at least one of his children will want to continue to work the farm and then support him.
We wished him well and, with admiration for his inner strength and faith in the land, felt sure that he could make it happen.