In addition to learning language, our second current major goal is understanding the Menyan culture. Through observation and participation we easily learn about material culutre–what the people do and how they do it–but we also want to know what the Menyan people think, what they believe, why they believe what they believe and even what they believe about why they believe what they believe.
To that end we are keen to hear stories about ancestors and traditions. Such stories are typically ripe with cultural revelations. But when the stories aren’t coming freely I’m not opposed to prodding.
Last week, sitting by the fire, thinking about our recent long-awaited rain, I decided to investigate what Hoka thought about thunder and lightning. I was wondering if there was a traditional explanation for either. I was also curious whether either might carry a significant meaning. So I asked, “Are there any traditional stories about thunder and lighting or about what causes them?” Hoka responded with a confused stare. I went on, “when your ancestors saw lightning and heard thunder, what did they think?” Hoka replied, “They thought, ‘It’s going to rain.’”