Tea pickers and country medicine in farflung Yunnan – Matthew Chitwood
Bangdong village, Yunnan – Wo-wo! Wo-wo-wo-wo-wo! The cock-a-doodle-doos of Chinese roosters echo across the mountainsides as Li Guojun rises in the dark. He limps up a hillside to his flock and tosses out handfuls of corn. The delicate light in the eastern sky warms to a rich orange until it spills over the horizon and rolls down the blue mountains toward the Mekong River. The roosters intensify their crowing. Although there are few constants in this remote village in southwest China, this morning chorus is a daily certainty. So too is Li Guojun’s morning routine. He hacks down a banana palm with his machete and shoulders it back home. It will be dinner for his cattle.
Li Guojun is a cowherd. Every day for the last 15 years, he has led a dozen or so cattle down into the valley to drink from the cool streams that flow into the Mekong. And every evening he brings them home to eat banana palm in his stable. Today will be no exception.