Mrs Li is a well know Naxi guide who i accompanied yesterday on a walking tour through Naxi and Yi minority people's villages. Both groups are strongly matriarchal societies in which the women drive economic life, tending to diverse crops (peaches, corn, wheat, apples, livestock) and household. According to Mrs Li men do very little which was pretty much what I observed throughout the day. That said, it may be that Mrs Li 's cultural assessment is colored by her bitter divorce from someone she only refers to as "worse man I ever know my life.". Being with Mrs Li afforded great doorway into conversations with local people.
We stopped for lunch and when it came time to pay, Mrs Li told the proprietor she was paying so that she would not overcharge us. But when I tried to sneak the money to Mrs Li the restaurant owner saw. This led to a very animated argument that settled down as abruptly as it began. Mrs Li turned to me and said, "I told her you were my boyfriend who came to visit me from USA. Restaurant owner say to me I must have very big talent in bed to have such a handsome boyfriend." Just then the owner asked to be introduced to me. "hello, my name is George Kluny -Dressler." Mrs Li translates her reply, "she want to know you have single brother". "Yes, his name is Brad Pitt Dressler and I will give him your greetings.". That brought a big smile to the restaurant owner's face and the price squabble seemed all but forgotten.
In the afternoon we went to a UN Cultural Heritage site called Baisha Village. Naxi embroidery is beautiful and my time in Guatemala has taught me to ask of they have any old remnants available for sale. The family was so delighted to push aside the more commercialized designs and share the faded work of their elders. Some bargaining for a few pieces turned into tea with the artisans and their children.
The day ended with a cultural performance complete with Naxi orchestra, vocalists and dancers. I have to say that listening to the shrill voices of the singers gave me a deeper appreciation for how Linda relates to gefilte fish, not having grown up with it. Everyone's got their cross cultural kryptonite. Now I know what nine is.