friday morning, inhui and i set out on a long journey! we rode the train from gyeongsan to seoul. when we got to seoul we hooked up with a good friend of inhui's and hopped on a bus to incheon where we met up with two female shamans. the shamans took us out for a feast of a lunch, then we went to their house for a reading. we all sat around a table on the living room floor eating pastries and drinking coffee while everyone was chain smoking as if their lives depended on it. i was just trying my best to breathe! suddenly the older shaman indicated to me that i could start asking her questions. inhui translated for us. the next hour is still a bit of a blur in my brain. it was very intense to sit there with a couple of strangers and have them know and tell me very intimate things about my past, present, and future in a way that was sometimes hard to fully understand, due to cultural differences and language barriers. i guess i should have known it would be like that! somehow i had anticipated it a bit differently. i can say that i'm glad i had the experience, but i cannot say i would do it again anytime soon.yikes!the shamans' little pink dog was all over inhui!standing in front of the shrine/altar in the shamans' homeafter hanging out with the shamans all afternoon, we finally made it by bus to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of juksan at about 10pm. we tried to get a cab from the juksan bus station to inhui's aunt and uncle's house, but the one and only cab driver told us it was too close, that we should walk. so, he pointed us in the right direction, and we headed out into the drizzly, black, and silent night (but for the croaking frogs in the rice paddies), rolling suitcase and bags in hand. not a car on the road. not a person in sight. and not much of a clue where we were headed. finally we ran into someone who confirmed that we were going the right way...and soon we saw inhui's uncle coming down the road to greet us! inhui hadn't seen him in 30 years. it was a sweet reunion.
when we arrived, inhui's aunt made us a late night dinner of rice, kimchi and soup on the kitchen floor. then we had some watermelon for dessert. she grows all of her own veggies (without spray). it was a treat!the next morning - inhui out by the garden (corn!) and the dogsinhui's aunt and uncle were a goddess-send! their hospitality was over the moon. i felt so happy to have met them.we took a cab to the juksan art center where the "embrace the world" international arts festival was being held. we made this journey because one of our professors from graduate school, arisika razak, was to be a guest performer and workshop leader at the festival. when we arrived at 8:30am no one was around so we checked into the nearest hotel which happened to be the castle-like love motel, "hotel provence," in misty walking distance from the arts center. we napped till noon, as we had gotten very little sleep the night before on the floor with inhui's aunt up and at 'em at 4am!newly planted rice paddieswhen inhui and i came back to the arts festival we ran into arisika right away! it was SOOOO good to see her. here we are: inhui, sin cha, arisika, and melunch time - bibimbap!an afternoon workshop led by thomas flindt (from denmark): "the power of laughter." our bellies were aching by the end! the best part was an exercise called "arguing laughter" where we found a partner and pretended to have an argument with only laughter and pointing fingers!this man (who had a gorgeous traditional paper exhibit) gave arisika a sweet little hat made of leaves.a dance performance by hwae kyung cha (from korea) and nam narim (from cambodia)a community of local women from juksan performed traditional circle dancing...it was hauntingly beautiful as the music came on and women in white stood up amidst the crowd and walked slowly down onto the grassy stage.and then began to dance together....
spiral dance!"en attendant godot" ("waiting for godot" by samuel beckett) showcase by sin cha hong, a well known korean choreographer and dancerhyun kyung chung doing an invocation before arisika's dance performance. earlier in the day she held a lecture on ecofeminism. hyun kyung is a professor of ecumenical theology at union theological seminary in new york city.arisika's beautiful dance performance "celebration of the sacred"inhui paying tribute to the korean comfort women - thousands upon thousands of women who were forced into prostitution and sexual slavery for japanese military brothels during world war II."in harmony with earth" dance performancesunday morning: the group of participants gathered round at arisika's workshop "opening to the heart of healing."some cool, feminist gals i met from seoul
something really, really funny happened as inhui and i were leaving hotel provence sunday afternoon. i made a stop in the hotel lobby's bathroom while inhui was checking us out. the toilet was one of those notorious "western" korean ones with about 30 different buttons to push. simply wanting to FLUSH the toilet, i chose the button that seemed the most obvious. nothing happened. so i examined the myriad of buttons more carefully. i chose a second one that had a little picture of cascading water droplets. immediately an apparatus extended out from inside the toilet bowl. it looked like one of those home pregnancy testing sticks. i'd never seen anything like it so i leaned in to get a closer look when sure enough a geyser of water came shooting out of that thing directly into my eyes! i screamed and threw myself against the wall. the water made an arc about as tall as me to the other side of the bathroom stall. i stood there for a second, trapped between the wall and the water. when i realized this perfumed water was soaking my backpack that was still sitting on the floor, i grabbed my bag, closed my eyes and made a mad dash through the waterfall and out the stall door. i looked like a drowned rat. i could not stop laughing and thought "yeah...this is what life is all about!" not always knowing what's going to happen. being surprised again and again. i think that's why i felt so overwhelmed with the shaman's reading. i really DON'T want someone to tell me what's going to happen. or even what they think will happen. i just want to be in THIS moment and let life unfold naturally, without preconceived notions. had i known that bidet was going to pop out and spray me in the face, i certainly would have declined from pushing that button.....and sadly, would have missed out on all that laughter!