We’d disembarked our riverboat a few miles down river (think 19th century Mississippi Riverboat). The waters this high up a tributary were far too shallow for anything that size to navigate. And we got into boats just like this, powered by shoulders and sweat and amazingly muscular thighs – that disembarked and pulled us through the bits of the river that were too shallow to navigate by oar.
This was a lovely sight, oddly muted in the way that foreign languages often are when you cannot understand a word – and these remote villagers spoke a dialect only our local guide understood. A truly lovely young woman, she couldn’t refrain from breaking into song and regaled us with several Carpenters melodies, while the villagers bargained, unloaded their goods and the river gurgled and the sun beat down as if it had nothing else to do that day.