Arrived in Pakse, I directly go meet South and her family, 40 km away, in their tea, coffee and pepper plantation. They own 4 hectares of land and are part of a coffee and tea cooperative. They dry the tea leaves themselves and sell their products in a nice little coffee and tea shop. South was born in Laos but she spent most of her life in France. She just came back to Laos to help her brother Sène, her sister in law, Touy, and their two boys.
Their plantation is full of fruit trees, herbs and spices: passion fruits, cinnamon tree, macadamia nuts, avocados, papayas, bananas and plenty of herbs and spices I don’t even know the name, but with which they cook amazing Laotian food! I discover the different processes to dry tea leaves (green, white, red and yellow tea are all coming from the same tea tree, only to drying process is different), start big compost piles with cabbage for the coffee trees, prepare tea tree cuttings, do some weeding and sort coffee beans as well as teach some English to the boys. I even played the touristic guide from time to time presenting the plantation to the numerous visitors (French, Swiss, Israeli, Chinese, Russians…) stopping for a cup of coffee.
I love to spend time in the shop having a great cup of tea and talking with the travelers in the middle of the coffee, tea and pepper trees. I also test amazing Laotian food: bamboo sprout filled with fish, bowls of rice filled with pork meat, caramelized pork, corn and tapioca porridge, and the country tradition meal: chicken cooked in many different ways with local herbs. And I finally tasted the durian fruit, very smelly, like French cheese!
I left Laos with nice memories and discoveries, to go back the North of Thailand where I am going to follow a 2-weeks class on permaculture.