When you are in a new place, never guess. Ask.
I was not in a jesting mood after that mix-up with my supposed-to-be father-in-law. The old guy hated men who came to visit his house under the influence of alcohol. First impressions be damned but he would not speak to me even though I knelt in front of him as if he was Buddha.
“Before I forget, I am supposed to join the group up the mountains. Want to join us? You want to see the world famous rice terraces, don’t you? All free, man!”
“Aren’t you tired of getting me in trouble?” I rued, caressing my head to lessen somewhat my hangover. “Now, you will try to arrange my marriage with a native.”
“That’s very far from my mind,” he confessed. But he added, “if you like to, I’ll see what I can do.”
We laughed at the idea.
“Come on! I promise no women stuff. We check the sights. That’s it!”
Man! It was breathtaking! I have never witnessed such human ingenuity before. To think that it was considered one of the wonders of the world, I was indeed blessed to be present that day,
The male natives, who wore the traditional g-strings and American-styled coats, welcomed us. They were all smiles, eager to pose for pictures with guests. Their hospitality was beyond the ordinary.
I tried to ask questions. Having second thoughts making my translator as a go-between, I spoke my hastily practiced local dialect. The permanent smile on their faces did not waver. I guess they understood me.
One of the younger in the group commented, “You nose is bleeding.”
I was surprised because when I checked it, no blood came. I was more surprised that he spoke fluent English.
“They speak English,” I said as if it was a discovery of the century.
“Of course,” my translator nodded. “American missionaries stayed here for a long time in the past.”
“He said my nose is bleeding, I don’t understand.”
“At the rate you’re speaking in the local dialect, you’re nose is about to bleed.”
“Why? They are smiling. I thought they understood me.”
“You said earlier that you will marry their daughters so you will be the king of the place.”
“No! I did not say that! Tell them that!”
“Okay! Okay!” my translator calmed me. He thought I was having a stress attack. “I am just pulling your leg. You’re so easy to tease.”
I huffed several times, trying to control myself. If not, my translator’s nose would bleed.
“Easy, man!” He probably guessed what I was planning. “Let’s eat! That will cool you down.”