The East, West And El Valle(the Valley) Meet

The East, West and El Valle(The valley) Meet

The sage brush and bushes were bending in a stiff wind outside the "Last chance Truck Stop", 10 miles west of Walsenberg Colorado, when I stopped for a cup of coffee before driving over La Veta Pass into the San Luis Valley.(El Valle) I was on my way back to Albuquerque from Denver where I had been visiting friends. As I paid my bill, the waitress asked if I could give a man, who she indicated with a look, a ride to Fort Garland. I turned to see a small oriental man who looked friendly and interesting so I went up to inform him of his good fortune. You give ride,? he asked. Thank you. Wind velly hard. No can ride bike. Last two miles velly hard. I give you one dollar a mile. No problem, I told him, but I can't take your money because I'm going that direction anyway.
He introduced himself as Bu Fanzhou of Beijing China and gave me a business card indicating he was the director of the Overseas Development Center for China Sports Magazine. Lucky he knew some English because the only Chinese I knew was off the menu in a Chinese restaurant. Bu was a nice chap with an aura of serenity seldom found in North America. I was driving a station wagon so it was no problem to load his bicycle and side saddles into it. A sign on the bike read "Around the World, lets go" Since I am a writer I recognized my opportunity to cement a friendship between China, El Valle, and Albuquerque a hands across the ocean kind of deal, and write a story to boot. Ah so-lets go-I told him. We are very fortunate to meet each other. Me go Los Angeles Fanzhou said. Now me go Durango. Durango nice place? I told him that Durango was nice place but to many tourists.
We clipped out of the parking lot on the next gust of wind and headed for Fort Garland. Everything is okay now I told him as we drove up the windy highway. I knew this was going to be a interesting ride because Franzhou had told me, in velly broken English, he was a photo-journalist on his way to visit every city that hosted the summer Olympic games in the 20th century before ending his journey in Sidney, Australia, for the 2000 Games. He was coming from Atlanta Georgia, site of the 1996 Olympic Games on his way to Los Angeles the site of the 1960 games. From there he was going to Sidney Australia for the 2000 games.
What a catch I thought. I had to learn real quick like to understand him for this story. Here is what I pick up out of the tatters of his English. That America wonderful place. Colorado wonderful place. Americans wonderful people. Hey, I broke in. China wonderful country. Chinese wonderful people. He laugh ho ho. I laugh ho ho. We happy. Fort Garland l lets go I told him. When we got there he asked me to drive him to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument 30 miles out of my way. He thought I was on his payroll. No problem I told him you writer me writer. China America friends. Not like bad Iraq. He laugh. I laugh. He knew joke.
At the sand dunes he took a lot of pictures and I could see he was a professional. Stooping, moving from side to side to catch the right angle. The Beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains towered over the sand dunes as the sun set. Sunset he said and laughed like it was a new word. We stopped to take pictures of some deer by the road. Deer lovely he say and I say deer our friends. We smile knowingly at each other and deer with peaceful eyes kept feeding in the serenity of our understanding.
On the way back to Fort Garland we talked about the invasion of China in 1932 and the following 13 years of war. Actually 16 years when you add the 3 year war between the communist and Chiang Kai-shek nationalists. At one point he asked me, "you like Japanese?" With just a hint of suspicion. Feeling me out. Probably remembering the rape of Nanking and a few other vicious war crimes by the Japanese, and I said magnanimously, I like everyone. No matter what color or nation. And he said you talk like man in the sky. One of those charming, unexpected, compliments that stay with you for a long time.
Fanzhou said, I sing you Chinese song . The melody was pleasant and I was pleased to hear the song in light of the fact that I never could have imagined being sung to in Chinese, on a road going through the San Luis Valley, in the interior of North America. Fanzhou Pu sang two songs and interpreted part of the second. They were not, I could tell from the two lines he interpreted , about the frantic love that much of America songs are about. Fanzhou said that the song was about two sweethearts who were separated by circumstances beyond there control and the man, who was in another town, is singing to her "There is no post office in this town. So I write you a letter on a cloud in the sky."
Then I sang the "Waltzing Mathtilda " the informal national anthem of Australia, which I knew would be the last stop of his journey. Fanzhou Pu clapped along as I sang. He happy. Me happy as I drove with my new friend across the homeland of my ancestors under the grand star studded sky of the El Valle de San Luis, the head lights cutting through the darkness, and beyond the horizon of the night Fanzhou homeland, ancient red robed China lying in the sunlight. The East and the West had met on a peaceful night. It was getting late so I say me hungry now. Me too Franzhou say. We go eat. I would like to offer you dinner. You generous friend. So we went to Alamosa, ate some Italian food, and then I found him a motel. We sat in his room talking for awhile. When I got ready to leave he put $80 on the table and said it was for me. I told him that I did not want the money because I did want to turn our pleasant time together into a commercial transaction. He looked a little befuddled so I told him you writer, me writer. America and Chinese friends so I do not want money. At this point he got a little insistent, pushing the money into my hand. I figured it was some kind of cultural thing so I finally took the money rather than disturb him any further.
I breezed up the valley full of spaghetti and Chinese memories, and carrying the burden of those eighty dollars. I got a room in the old Palace hotel in Antonito. From my room I could see the tree peaks of Los Mogote's resting in the night.
In the morning I went to see my friend Father Felix Lopez, the pastor of the Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Oldest Church in Colorado. We sat in the kitchen of the Theatine seminary house in Antonito talking about how everyone was always talking about God. Just talking and not doing. God this. God that. God talked to me last night. How they had seen God come around the corner of a shed one night and just kept right being sinners. We agreed that some people have forgotten how be generous, sensitive and caring. Yes, a bunch of hypocrites, probably me included and maybe Fanzhou. Who knows? Who's perfect?
I told him the story Fanzhou and as I approached the part about the money it became perfectly clear this tale would end up to be a story of caring and giving, like a letter on a cloud in the sky. He gave me $80 I told Father Felix but all I wanted was the happy memory, nothing else, and I put my burden, the $80 on the table, "Here give it to the poor".
" There are many people out of work they will be happy to revive this" the good Father said.
I smile now as I write about it. God happy. Father Felix happy. The poor happy. Me happy. Franzhou happy.
The East, West and El Valle(The valley) Meet
a1234poem a1234poem
41-45, M
1 Response Aug 1, 2010

I think you should post your stories on the 'I like to write' Experience group. Here, we like to read and comment on books we have read...not literally, read your stories!