(We did not have a Turkey dinner.)
I imagine most folks know that Jess is having some challenges at 'work'. Jess says at times I am the master of understatement, that was an example. If you are signed up as a 'follower' you know the gritty details of her struggles as she inadvertently sent email drafts of her thoughts to all 'followers'. In any case the whole mess has colored the last couple of weeks and that color is uncertainty. I feel very bad for Jess. She at 1st didn't seem that upset, (angry, sad, frustrated, furious, confused), about how she's been treated, but now I think it's getting to her. Not surprisingly considering how much time and effort she devoted to the clinic, not just there but on her off hours too. She loved the work and the people of the village and was seeing progress. All this done strictly as a volunteer and I know some out of pocket money. I think I'm more pissed off than she is. Fortunately I know Jess will 'land on her feet'.
And I have had the same thoughts Jess has had to face. Are the kids better off with me there or am just enabling a bad situation? I don't know. Or is it really all about me because I very much like what I am doing, I'm having fun and love those kids. And I do feel like they are learning and having fun, I do see progress. But I have more freedom than Jess has/had. I've been given somewhat free rein on what I can do with the children and I've taken advantage of that. Jess didn't mention the following because she's very kind. When she was getting her one of her 2 'poundings' (as an Aussie put it) it was emphasized what a good volunteer I am. I don't remember exactly what was said but clearly I 'tow the line' so to speak and don't make waves. Perhaps that's true in a sense mainly because I got my way and we haven't had our weekly teachers' meeting in well over a month. I really don't know how it's going to feel working there once Jess is done.
Jess and I have had discussions and she has stated often the question: why are we here? There are many reasons for me: the desire to live in another country/culture, the need to work directly with children again, the weather, the need for change and lastly to play tennis outdoors in January are among the reasons. I have somewhat found that I think. Jess seems to be still asking herself that question, I sometimes also, but she is clear about at least one reason. And that is to immerse herself in the culture as much as possible and get to know the people here on a personal level as much as possible. Yes this is a lot cooler than wanting to hit a little yellow ball around.
That is why Jess has made an extra effort to realize her above desires and in a relatively short 3 months she has been I think very successful. You may have noticed that I have not joined her for some of these experiences, my loss of course. This is partly due to being kinda sick for all of Oct. but also because I don't seem to have that social energy that I had at home in the states. And Jess seems to possess the energy that I lack. This is a switch from how things were in the states. I often wanted to go out and socialize and Jess's arm had to be twisted a bit to go out. But this I guess goes back to why Jess is here and also perhaps my aging body. She is a youngster after all. I am sorry I missed some of her experiences and have told myself to get off my ass.
Random thoughts following.
The father of one of the Dutch nurses that Jess worked with came to Siem Reap in her final days here. We had many conversations on a variety of topics, very nice and interesting guy, I liked him. We're about the same age. On our last get together with them he said unsolicited that he had not met many Americans but now he can say the Americans he met in Cambodia were very nice and pleasant people. I was very happy to hear this as I know Americans are not always seen in a favorable light by folks around the globe. I do see myself as being conscious of this and make an effort to change opinions. It was funny though when I first met him and asked him if he has visited the states he said no and he had no desire to visit. I never did press him about why. Next time.
I saw a strange sport on tv: a 3 man or woman team and a small 'volleyball' and net and they were using only their feet to serve and hit the ball. Soccer volleyball?! I pretty much only watch sports and news on tv. Lots of tennis and soccer, occasionally football. But I briefly checked out badminton and that is serious over here, they slam that birdie. I have seen another odd sport: it involved a basketball type court but a smaller ball and the goals were made by shooting or bouncing the ball into a field hockey like net. Yeah I know??!! I feel I've seen other odd sports too.
On the bug front: after a rain last week these funny looking inch long worm/snail type things were coming in the back door. It was an invasion, they didn't move fast so it was easy to sweep. Weird and yucky.
|a different bug|
I've been trying to cook more, both Khmer and Western food. I made pasta and meatballs, stir fry pumpkin curry, pork ribs with ginger that were just hanging in the open air market, ( no, no one got sick). Jess says we'd more likely to get something form a meat factory than from the pig that was killed most likely that morning. I made quesadillas. Can't seem to find good avocados here. ? I make morning glory occasionally, still perfecting w/o overcooking it. I've always loved greens and morning glory is becoming a favorite. Fish cakes are delicious also, that's ground up fish cooked like a pancake.
And I finally made pesto pasta, there is great sweet basil here so I don't know why it took me so long to make. I had to use almonds, didn't think I could find pine nuts. I have to say as I write this I realize we are for a large majority of the time eating fresh local foods. I especially love the bread lady who comes by on her bike every morn selling warm baguettes. We are lucky.
Last night a Khmer family Jaz became friends with on her rides to Chey school came over for dinner, a Western dinner they requested. We've been to their home for a meal, previous post with pics and text, it's the coconut family. Jaz bought coconut drinks from their store. Anyway I made garlic bread, penne Bolognese and green beans w/shallots & garlic. They did eat the meal but only after they added fish sauce, spicy type catsup and maybe oyster sauce. They did seem to like the bread. It was a fun evening in spite of the fact that the mom and youngest daughter, 8y.o., speak very little English. Dad's English was limited, fortunately the older daughter, 10 y.o., speaks excellent English. Very bright kid. And Sovann was there also.
So for at least 2 hours we had interpreted conversations on a variety of topics but mainly the weather at our home in America. The dad especially wanted to know about living in snow. How do we walk in it, how do you stay warm and your ears especially? He asked if we had 'warm conditioning'? My explanation of burning oil in a furnace elicited perplexed looks. When we showed them photos of Vt. during the various seasons they asked interesting questions, for example do the colored leaves stay on the trees. A very lovely family.
Tennis wise I am bummed. A woman I play tennis with thought we could get a couples membership at 'the' fancy hotel, Raffles, at a discount because we work at NGO's. She knows the children's hospital employees get a discount and thought we could also. They have 2 great courts w/ lights! It was not to be. Well not giving up yet. It gives me more incentive to volunteer at the hospital, ha ha. Well we'll keep playing on the one court that has limited space from the baseline to the fence , not to mention potted plants at the fence also. Weird but better than nothing. Well.........never mind while writing got a call and the tennis place changed their mind, it's a 'Khmer thing'.
I have to mention the kids again. I colored some elbow macaroni so the kids can make necklaces. Unfortunately, or fortunately as you will see, it was difficult to string them because the holes were rather small. Almost impossible. I did bring some penne too, but not a lot, which was much easier. However that did not stop the kids from trying...........and being successful. At first they persevered with some success but then a little girl used a tiny stick to push the string through. Pretty soon the kids were using the same method and voila, necklaces. The perseverance and ingenuity/creativeness of the kids continues to amaze me.
When I'm riding my bike or we're out and about there are many interesting sights and happenings I want to relate to folks. But I forget so maybe I need to carry a little notebook with me.