Today I had a piece of pineapple. Not all that exciting of an event, I realize, but for me pineapple will always take me right back to Chiang Mai, Thailand and my experience house sitting there nearly one year ago.
As I took a small bite of the juicy, succulent pineapple, I closed my eyes, and, BOOM, I was right back there.
I see myself standing in the kitchen of the simple little house in a Muu Baan just south of Chiang Mai. I remember eating pineapple over the sink and looking out the window, through the bars, over the cinder block fence, past the mango trees, across the street to the jackfruit tree with it's fruit hanging heavily just inches from the ground.
I can hear the children, just returning from school in their spotless powder blue tops and navy blue skirts or pants, playing and laughing in the quiet street. I have no idea what they were saying, but it was all said with much laughter and happiness. I don't think I ever heard a child cry while I was staying there.
I can hear the neighborhood dogs barking at strangers walking by, or at other dogs entering their territory, or yipping excitedly as the children play with them.
I can hear the jingling bells of the ice cream vendor and his scooter sidecar rig slowly putt putting his way up and down the streets selling his tasty treats; a cup of vanilla and mango ice cream with sticky rice and crushed peanuts, or you could get your ice cream on white bread if you like, a real ice cream sandwich!
I am reminded of the young family at the local corner fruit and vegetable market where I bought my pineapples. I remember how I looked forward to seeing their smiles and sharing laughs as we tried to understand each other, determined to not let the Thai/English language barrier stop us from being friends. I think of them often and hope that one day I will buy a pineapple or some mangosteens from them again.
Spending seven weeks in a village that was pretty much exclusively Thai was an experience I will always remember. Lucky for me I can go back anytime I like and all it costs me is the price of a pineapple.