We were driving on a very narrow road to the ethnic villages in high mountains near the Chinese border with northern Vietnam. I was with six of my friends, five of whom were photographers. Two or three hours after we left the last village on our route, clouds suddenly started moving toward the verdant mountains while we were driving on a narrow zigzagging mountain road. The scenery was magnificent. We wanted to stop the vehicle and photograph that impressive landscape. We stopped as soon as we found a part of the road where it was safe to do so, toward the slope of a steep mountain, and were immediately greeted by the resounding voices of shouting, excited children. We gathered up our cameras and got out of the vehicle, trying to understand where the sounds were coming from. Then we realized that six children, small and big, were coming down from the rocks and among bushes, walking quite comfortably and easily. They were all from the village in the area. Goggle-eyed and muddy-faced, the tools in their hands indicated that they worked in the fields. We could not speak. They surrounded us, staring as if we were astronauts. There was an adorable tiny boy with a muddy face, a snotty nose, and a picture drawn on his chest who I called a “puzzle boy.”
A girl held a grass hook in her hand. There were two other boys in the group. And there was a boy whose eyes and hair were a cinnamon colour who I immediately named a “Cinnamon Boy”. His hair colour and height were different from those of the other children. All we could offer the children were small gifts such as the cookies in our vehicle. We gave them the cookies, and tried to talk with them via the assistance of our guide. We understood that they came down because this was the first time they had ever seen foreigners. We completely forgot the landscape, trying to get the children to come down from the mountain, and also trying to take their pictures. One of my last photos before we left was the one of the
Cinnamon Boy looking different from the others, they are all coughing non-stop, and one of little boy with a drawing like a puzzle on his chest. I will never forget his face or those of the other children.
Before we left, I took some photos of him and of the others to remember this magical moment.