Sat 23 Oct 2010 - Mon 25 Oct 2010 20 °C
Her grasp on my hand was firm and confident. Though she was younger and significantly smaller than me, I held on as we navigated the slippery slope of the mountain in Sapa, Vietnam. The thick fog concealed my surroundings. I was left to imagine the waterfall I was hearing, and envision the base of the rice terraces extending up into the sky. I was left to focus on my footing, secure that when my feet slid - which they did - her hold would keep me upright.
I didn't know what she looked like. Striding ahead of me, her only distinguishable feature was her green rubber boots. Though I had on designer hiking boots, her expertise outperformed my gear. When she jumped, I jumped. When she pointed to a rock with her toe, I stepped there. We danced for several hours.
When we stopped to rest, I scanned the group of local women, all alike in their tribal clothing, for the one with the green rubber boots. She smiled at me, and I could see a gold tooth in front of her smile. A pink scarf was wrapped around her head and her basket was covered with a clear plastic bag.
When we stopped for lunch, we learned that the ladies wouldn't be continuing with our group. The swarm of ladies drew near, and I knew what to do. When they revealed their goods for sale, I looked for my lady with the green rubber boots. While I am certain that her kindness is genuine, I knew that the next step of the dance was to repay her kindness with a purchase.