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Dream season

( Update: 20/10/2021 )

Rong khô, người cũng héo nhưng không tắt nụ cười
Rong khô, người cũng héo nhưng không tắt nụ cười
In Pho Chau beach commune, H. Duc Pho ( Quang NgaiEveryone knows that drying seaweed every day can earn 400,000 - 500,000 VND, but not many people do it because the work of diving and cutting seaweed is extremely hard. With the,dream seasonvery short, as short as... a dream. Only one month (from mid-April to mid-May of the lunar calendar). In addition, there are not many seaweeds. So the peddlers here can't count all ten fingers.

They are married couples whose names are on the list of poor households in the commune. After reaping a few poles of field, the couple rushed into the sea to "harvest" seaweed because it was in the harvesting season, drying to sell to traders.

Husband swam in a basket to the sea estuary about 300 m from the shore, dived 6-7 m deep at the foot of the reefs, using a sickle to cut seaweed. After cutting a few kilograms, he rose to the surface, put the seaweed in a basket, and then dived again. About a hundred kilograms, he hurriedly swam to the shore, gave it to his wife to dry, then turned around and cut the fruit again. Working hard from early morning until late at night is not sure to get a ton of seaweed. Sometimes it's bad luck, the waves hit suddenly, the basket boat capsizes.

Ms. Pham Thi Chau (55 years old) opened the can of "bull cow" and gave it to her husband, Nhan, who had just swam in a basket carrying seaweed to shore. Nhan tilted his head to drink. Looking at his messy way of drinking, I thought there was no drop in the can. But he handed the can to his wife: "Drink it, half of it is in the house". Then he looked at his wife jokingly: "I'm the one who shares a lot of sweetness". The sister-in-law just shakes the seaweed and "loves" her husband. The couple laughed together, smiles shining on their dark faces. Nhan said to laugh to forget his wife's suffering, "the old people" said a smile equals ten... cans of gored cows.

Dream season - photo 1
Mr. Tuoi with freshly cut seaweed

After a while, I knew they were having a daughter studying at university in Saigon. And the "late" son, who just finished 3rd grade, also "knows how to cook fish braised rice". Mr. Nhan said the rice was so cheap, even selling a few quintals didn't get a few million to send to his children every month. So for the past few weeks, the couple has been sleeping together.

Sell ​​your face to the sand, sell your back to the sun

The sea was already dark, but Mr. Nhan took the opportunity to turn around again. The day's last bunch of seaweed weighed about a hundred kilograms and he temporarily piled it up on a rock outside the barn. He said do not try to transfer this seaweed to the shore before dark, the sea level will rise to "take it back".

"Colleagues" with Ms. Chau and Mr. Nhan are Ms. Thao and Mr. Tuoi. They are each other's good neighbors, drying side by side to have sisters and brothers, in the style of "fat children drag thin children". Thao is only 40 years old, so she is still quite busy. After drying her seaweed, she rushed to help Chau. Mr. Tuoi is an army officer and suffers from shoulder pain. Like Chau and her husband, Mr. Tuoi and his wife also raise their two children to study, but they also take care of their sick and elderly parents, so they work hard all year round. Fresh swimming the basket is a bit slow, so Nhan often follows the "escort", every moment uses the paddle to push your basket away quickly.

Freshly looked at me, cheerful voice: "Mr Nhan is very good. There was a time when the two brothers went to the shore once, saw that my basket was a little bit seaweed, he picked up some of his seaweed and threw it in my basket, said to make your wife happy. But don't tell my wife. My wife knows that your wife knows, then she "despise" you.

Calling people who go to the sea to dive and cut seaweed are "phu Rong" is not wrong. Freshly said, on a day when the wind is calm, the sea is calm, the two brothers soak in the water continuously to cut about 1 ton of fresh seaweed. Any meal when the wind is strong, the water is hot, the waves are high, only 700-800 kg. Going to the sea to pick apricots with a basket boat is very hard, so everyone... dreams of buying a motorboat powered by propellers. Adding a steamer is "dead", cutting about 4 tons of seaweed a day.

Dream season - photo 2
Anh Tinh carries a basket of seaweed on the beach

Nhan is also dreaming Tuoi's dream. But then he clicked his tongue and said that Tinh next door had a basket boat like me. Every season, it always swims in and out with an inflated truck's intestines. Yet every day, I get 400 - 500 kg of fresh seaweed, but not much. Just look "down" on Tinh and see that he is still delicious. Mr. Tuoi still "cooks" the dream of a motorboat because it does not have to worry about poverty. At the end of the dream season, the motorboat explodes to go fishing and squid fishing. At that time, when I raised my children to eat and drink, my wife also... white skin and long hair. Listening to the story, Ms. Chau, Ms. Thao staggered and said, we are black, we don't care, as long as we have peace, don't get sick, don't run around and borrow money everywhere.

I sit and listen to the wives of the "travellers" telling stories of "life" in the street. Fresh seaweed is just "weapon". It takes two days to dry the seaweed completely before it is called real seaweed. One ton of fresh seaweed is 125 kg of dried seaweed. When you hear the smell of salty seaweed waking up in the fragrant sunshine, you know that the seaweed is of good quality. But this is not the final step. Ten fingers must shake each piece of seaweed to remove the soil and sand, have to go through a little bit by bit to take out the broken meshes, spongy pieces, fish hooks ... cling to before the bag.

Dream season - photo 3
Two couples with drying jobs

However, traders from Nha Trang often criticize up and down to reduce prices. At the beginning of the season, there are 7,500 VND/kg. Now in the middle of the season, it's only 6,000 VND/kg. Know cheap but have to sell. If you don't sell, your wife and children... have eaten for three years and haven't finished! With that price, every two days "selling face for sand, back for sun" a couple is only more than 800,000 VND.

When the bags of seaweed were sewn closed, the first stars appeared in the sky. Two couples whisper something and then invite the “journalist” (me) to their house to play. Hot rice. Flying fish sour soup. Salty dried fish. A bowl of chili sauce. Bottle of wine and a bucket of cooked apricot juice. Those are the dishes that I was "treated" by two street vendors. I realized that apricot juice can "blur" the alcohol concentration. Wine is poured into tea cups. I was invited to 6 “districts”. Thought all the way back, who would have just drank two glasses of seaweed apricots, saw that the person was sober as if he had never had alcohol.