Looking through some old photos to find new things to show the steady trickle of visitors we now receive, I came across this picture taken at the end of the first day of earthworks on February 6 2011. It made me think of all the people who have helped us and of how without them we would still be staring at a dried up rice field. Whenever I write about anything “we” have done here, what I really mean is “they”. I keep them amused, try not to injure myself and lend a hand when we are short, but they are the ones who get the jobs done. PS. This photo shows probably the last time I ever wore a good, clean shirt at MaeMut Garden. These days Maemut Garden is more than just the home of our family, we are very rarely alone here now. Pee Hom is our nearest neighbour and works here most days, meeting her has been the biggest stroke of luck of our adventure here, to say she is irreplaceable is an understatement, the volunteers who have worked with her will testify to her great determination and ability as well as her wickedly playful nature. Nong Nam and Nong Ploy, Pee Hom’s daughters are often around also, baby Serena loves them and they always have to stay a bit longer, they are Serena’s two big sisters.
Since the beginning of the “project”, not an appropriate word really, as it assumes a level of planning which definitely we did not do, many different people have worked here at some point, some more regularly than others, their patience and understanding have been essential for putting up with the wacko who kept changing his mind and suggesting they do things no one had any experience with. We took a small group to a two day natural building workshop, no one knew anything about mud brick building, and then we started work, they all took to the job with great enthusiasm. I have a very clear appreciation of the fact that we need them much much more than they need us. These guys are farmers with land around the village, but they can turn their hand to pretty much anything, without them there would definitely be no house here, in a word they are awesome. There are a number of different family relations between them I won’t bore you with, suffice to say they are very comfortable working with each other and we have been very lucky to connect with them, in their eyes we have been “adopted” as part of their family. These days we do not see them here all that often anymore, apart from Som, who has built the new wooden bungalow almost single handedly and handles all the small jobs that arise from time to time. We meet regularly in and around the village, at parties and festivals, or after five o’clock, for a drink after work.
Spare a thought for Suphan, Pee Hom’s son in law, the guy works with me every day now, he is behind almost everything that has been done in the garden, has worked full time with us since the house was finished and without him and the Karen boys from Baan Huay Hoy the place would be a total mess. A last word goes to our volunteers and friends, difficult to say who is what, our friends also come to help us and the volunteers quickly become friends.