Margo McCreary

The Thai Massage Circus

We move on to the next amazing thing that Willow found as she explored the web so many months before. Her determination in finding meaningful studies in places that would also be good for Birch has truly paid off. We are on the most lovely piece of land that is bordered by two rivers…or one river that has split for a bit. Upstream is the Kuangsi Waterfall which is very dramatic, and a tourist attraction, but the river and more little waterfalls and lovely pools continue through the land where the Thai Massage Circus has taken place for the past ten years. What a great gathering of interesting and warm people from all over the world. I am in love with humanity here and the sound of water all the days and nights sing to us.

Willow, Birch and I live in this bamboo hut.

Amazingly enough, there are very few bugs, and all the spaces between the bamboo are no problem. We still get bitten, but hardly at all. The roof is grass overlapped and it would be intriguing to be in here in a rain. It is the dry season now, which might explain no bugs. Yesterday, a water buffalo showed up to plow and prepare two flooded rice paddies. A young Lao man was very patient with the buffalo who ate grass along the sides the whole time she was dragging the plow. Once she was in the middle, there was no access to food, so she got a little less cooperative, and the commands were more forceful.

I have heard that the Circus participants will plant the rice paddies sometime soon. This seems like a wholistic approach to learning, and being on the land is a big part of the teaching. I really have heard very little of the teaching, but overheard a conversation at lunch about approaching a scar as a masseuse without re traumatizing the body, but letting the body know that the healing is not complete. Seems the learning is deep, and I am happy for the 40 students who still have over two weeks at the Circus. What a collection of kind and vibrant teachers who have a variety of approaches. I watched one of the instructors give the most beautiful massages while I waited to get one from two of the students. It is more of a dance in which the masseuse uses parts of her body to manipulate the recipient, and in this practice the students are being instructed to use gravity and breath to conserve their energy. It is not about effort. I was a happy recipient of the fruits of these teachings and felt compassionate hands and confident hands smoothing and pressing and stretching my muscles and joints. Thank you Lauren and Alia, beautiful generous women.

So, I spent the past ten days in this paradise, and I was taking care of Birch who is 20 month old. There was another 20 month old boy named Adam who is the son of Karen and Ali.

I loved spending time with them, and watching those toddlers greet and shove each other. This is not a developmental time for playing together. They certainly noticed each other, and could devastate each other pretty easily, and recover pretty easily too. It was truly great to have another parent to share the time with, and the humor of their antics. It was a perfect place for a toddler to roam around. There were canals of rushing water to throw a floating cupie doll in to see her wisk away around a bend, under a bamboo bridge, through a grassy rapids, and into the placid rice paddies where we could fish her out to do it again and again. There was a fire pit surrounded with sand, and we spent hours there burying everything, and finding it, and some sensual time of feeling the warm sand pour onto our feet and hands. Our bamboo hut had a wooden stairway up into it, and Birch had a blast throwing everything out the door, and then saying “Oh no,” like something horrible just happened. Adam quickly picked up that phrase, and I saw him teasing Birch with it today. Our hut was a lovely home base, and we spent many hours playing with the puppets, baby, cupie, Elmo, baby bear….a whole cast of characters who sometimes needed to sit with us as we read a book, and there was no slacking allowed by Birch, if one of them slumped off to the side. That was a juggling act! Birch believes in the life of these characters, and they all get bites of anything we eat or drink, and amazingly enough, he is very conscious of using their eyes, which is very gratifying to a puppeteer!

I felt sad to leave lovely new friends of the road at the Circus, and to leave the land and waterfall pools behind. Jimmy, Birch’s Dad has arrived so I am off to meet Adel for a couple of weeks of travel. She is in Vientiane having braved the first few days of foreign travel by herself, and gained some ease with the venture by visiting ancient and mysterious sites. There is no end of breathtaking sights. I decided to travel by plane from Luang Prabang to Vientiane to make a short trip rather than another 12 hour “night bus” ride over twist and turning mountain roads. The night bus is really a good thing because you get to lay down in a little berth, and the one catch is that if you are traveling alone you get to share this intimate space with whoever shows up. On my one experience, I shared with this sweet young woman from the Netherlands who was on a college break. We were both thankful that we were berth mates. We had a great conversation and then got down to the business of trying to sleep and hold off peeing until the random stops along the road! Anyhow…..so great to see my good friend Adel sitting in the hotel lobby at the Hayskoke Guesthouse in Thailand!!!!! What a gift that she decided to come all this way to travel, and did we have an adventure into the unknown planned!

More about that in the next installment! Thanks for reading!