In the last few days before we left Thanh Hoa last September, I asked Mr. Thanh to help me with some shopping. I really wanted a hammock. They are all over Vietnam, in all sorts of styles. In Hanoi, street vendors try to sell them to the Westerners–“Silk. Very nice. You buy only $20.” I never took them up on the offer because one, I think they were lying about the silk part and two, I wanted the green one with a stand.
Mr. Thanh drove me on his motorbike from one shop to another, our helmets perched, unbuckled, on our heads. We finally found a shop that carried them and Mr. Thanh asked the price. 250,000 VND. A good chunk of change in those parts. I couldn’t bargain with any grace, so I asked Mr. Thanh if he would ask her to take 150,000 VND. I remember he looked a little worried; they talked back and forth for a bit and he asked if I’d pay 200,000 VND. Of course, I would. So we exchanged cash for hammock and I climbed on to the back of his bike again, holding the hammock to my chest.
“Sorry, Miss Teresa,” he yelled to me.
Sorry for what, I wanted to know. He’d willingly driven me around town and bargained for me. What could I possibly be upset about?
“I am no good at buying. My wife, she is very good.”
He did a fine job of course, better than I would have ever been able to do with my rudimentary Vietnamese. When we left Vietnam, I used the hammock as a bumper in our suitcase then safely stashed it away into the closet for the next summer.
Well that next summer has come and nearly gone without the hammock. Our yard, while it is full of trees is even overtaken by wayward plants and there was nowhere to hang it.
“Let me get the yard taken care of first” is what I told my daughter every time she asked about hanging it up. I had every intention to do so.
But the weeding took more work than I ever expected (60+hours later, it still is nowhere near done)and school started two weeks ago without the hammock being hung.
She asked about it again last Sunday and in a crazy moment, I figured why not. There are no trees to hang it from, no where for me to use it, but she’s little enough we can just hang it on the deck. So I did.
I watched some YouTube videos, practiced a couple of times with the knots and struck out to finally get the hammock up. It turned out just well enough to use it for another week or two, before the Oregon rains really start. And we’re both happy about it.