Friday, 8 June 2012

Challenges...that's life!

Will you look at what the cat dragged in!

It's alive!  This is what greeted  me as I entered my gate at lunch today, with one proud kitty not far away.  Hum, GOOD Kitty!!! Although they are poisonous, the Black Scorpion is supposed to be the gentle one compared to the White Scorpion.  WHAT?  THERE IS A WHITE SCORPION? OOOHHHHH BOYEEEEE!

These were after I had a closer look with broom in hand, found out it was alive, and tried to flick it away from me.  That is when I learnt that they can hang on to things!  Luckily, it went in the intended know how flicks can go!

The funny thing though, last night I was lamenting how the cats were leaving "presents" at my door which weren't all that appealing.  Take for instance, my lovely "guard" gecko with only his head and tail.  Or, the other day, the cat was there pulling the insides out of the latest rat find!  But, today's gift was a reminder to me that I am indeed living in the tropics.  Believe it or not, I do forget from time to time.  I must be getting used to the heat, humidity, palms, and tangle of vines and weeds that are overrunning the place.  No wonder my garbage isn't getting picked up, the container is getting harder to find beneath all the under brush.  Back to the scorpion.  It eventually died, the cat abandoned it, and the last I looked, the ants were marching in...thousands of them!

Speaking of weather it must be about 28 or 30 degrees today and my VA and my language teacher both said they found it cold!!!! Are they for real?  I am still working with sweat dripping from my arms.  I have to write with a piece of plastic under my arm because the page get too wet from my sweat!

On a much happier note, I've noticed that animals are certainly treated better here than in some countries.  They aren't exactly treated like the pets that I know but still, not bad.


You wouldn't catch me in that water.  It is more like several drainage ditches converging.  The owner takes his horse there and leaves it while he is collecting aquatic plants, then goes and washes the horse down.  This morning when I was out for my walk, I saw two horse cart guys chatting beside the road with their horses on a "leash" in the water.  Everyone seemed to be having a lovely time!

Oh now this is funny!  The other day, I was in the "super market" to get my requisite binge cookies when I met a Khmer girl in the cookie aisle.  She looks at me and here is how the conversation goes.

G:  Which I buy to get fat?

Me:  Pardon?

G:  I want to get fat.  Which I buy?

Me:  Any of these will make you fat if you eat enough of them.

G:  But which one better?

Me:  Well, I am buying these.

G:  You want to get fat?

Me: Um no...

G:  Why you buy then?

At that stage most normal people would have put the cookies back on the shelf and come back when she was gone.  But I told her I wanted to eat them.  She would never understand!  NEVER!  It is so straight forward for some people, isn't it!

Well, I must say that I did have one of those days that I knew would show up eventually.  Have you ever felt that the brick wall is so high and your head is getting really sore from hitting against it.  That was me on Wednesday.  It was like...shit....this is too hard.  I can't do this any more.  I can't understand Khmer, I can't pronounce anything properly, and it is getting worse rather than better!  I'm getting tired of not eating the way I like to eat.  I have had to compromise on so many additives, aluminium, PLASTIC everything, nothing is even close to organic and MSG if I eat out.  Oh, there is more.  I have a love-hate relationship with my moto (refer to previous posts). The problems at the schools feel insurmountable. And, I really miss my friends!
 What am I doing?  Then, after a few tears, I realised that this is 2 years out of my life.  The people here are trying so hard...and this IS their life.  My heart really does ache at times.  How can they be so endearing and lovely and kind-hearted and cheerful?  Look at me feeling sorry for myself.

Luckily it only lasted an hour and a box of cookies!  Today, I am "back in the saddle" so to speak.  My language teacher told me today that he could call me "mom".  You see, the thing is here everyone is connected.  If you are close to people they are your "brother, sister, mother, father, son, daughter" whether there is a blood connection or not.  They really do act that way too.  Wonder what happened to our culture.  In spite of the chaos on the road, I haven't seen anyone get angry, or make angry gestures.  I probably mentioned the restaurant in Phnom Penh where we were explaining to the owner that our bill really should be more than he was charging us.  He was insistent that he didn't want to charge us more.  In the market, the women always give me the right change.  Today in the restaurant at dinner, the menu said $4.00 and I was charged $2.50.  Yes, I can do this.

So even though it isn't all a bowl of cherries, and at times it really is hard work just hanging in, I have decided that I will put more effort into learning, studying, and speaking Khmer, ride my moto every day to improve, suck up the compromises, and I will  remind myself that I really chose to be here to do the best that I can for these truly wonderful people who have had such a horrific recent history.  And, I will cry if I want to when I need to!

Below is the ceremony for the International Children's Day, which by the way, is a holiday here.  A lot of speeches, the Prime Minister's letter was read, the principal read the children's rights out, I said a few words, and they stood very quietly and patiently.  There was a game, then we passed out biscuits that we brought for the children.  Yup folks, this is why I am here.

Finally, although I don't want to encourage the cats, they seem to have made themselves at home.  They fend for themselves but don't hesitate to use the most comfortable chair.

Thanks for staying tuned.  As I have said to a few of you, I check my email a gazillion time so don't be shy with the emails.  I so appreciate every bit of mail I get and even read much of it several times. I'm off to Bangkok next weekend, and am very excited to see the transition from Cambodia to Thailand.  After 4 months, it should be interesting...and more challenges--they drive on the "other side of the road"!

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