Saturday, 24 August 2013

Rains and rants and I really hate ants!

Hello hello hello!

Can you believe it is the end of August!  Where most of you are harvesting, getting relief from summer heat, and thinking about getting ready for fall, I am looking forward to the constant clear blue sky that comes at the end of the rainy season.  Usually packing for travel is easy but this time of year, you really don't want to forget your poncho! And where oh where are my beloved yellow gum boots?  When the rains come, you are drenched within seconds not to mention the unbelievable roads into and out of Kep.  So, some monsoon meanderings...

All my banking is in Kampot, usually a 30 minute motorcycle ride from Kep.  The rain makes for a most interesting albeit a bit of an adrenalin rush trip at times.  Pictures tell a story.

This was on the way home from Kampot

No such thing as a tow-truck here! 

There always seems to be a cat or excavator handy when you need one. 

Yup, just drive right on through and see what happens.  

This is an improvement to our trip to Kampot...we had to pay 1500 Riel to ride the moto across 2 different sets of planks.

I'm not the only one who has difficulty. 

Phnom Penh bound, with detours, washed out roads, and more muck.

Dat's my bus! 

And dat's the line-up ahead of us.  Luckily there was an excavator to move the truck that was wheel-deep in mud!  

View from the bus window

On the road again...

I doubt I will ever complain about the roads in Canada again.  The North Fork Road, ungraded with potholes and washboards, would be considered a good road here!

Just a normal day at a Phnom Penh bus station. 

The entertainment waiting for the bus.

This is looking so normal to me these days. 

The constant rain raises the already high humidity.  Things never ever dry!  What you see growing on my wall, is also growing on my clothes, my pillow smells of mildew (it was a really bad idea to go to sleep with wet hair!) and my sheets are damp when I get into them every night.

The mildew or mold or some other fungus growing on my wall...maybe it's smut! 

Banteay Meanchey, my former province has already experienced flooding killing several people.  It is about 2 months earlier than normal.

Come on November Sunshine!!!!

And, I missed the best pictures of all when I was in Phnom Penh without my camera.  Streets were flooded mid-way up the tires of the motos.  There were actually wakes behind them.  Children were playing in the streets laughing as they were getting splashed by the passing tuktuks.  While watching in amusement, I had three children come up to me holding two 500 Riel notes thinking I had dropped them.  That amounts to $0.25 which is a lot of money for children but it didn't seem to cross their mind to keep it for themselves.  It wasn't mine so they looked around to see who else the money might belong to.

But the rain does have it's beauty.

 Being in Cambodia during the national election has been such an educational experience for me.  Witnessing the struggles of a people trying so very hard to have a voice, against a strong-man who refuses to relinquish his power.  The moment the opposition leader returned from self-imposed exile, after being pardoned by the King, the energy of the election change.  There was hope!  And, the people went to vote in the millions.  But, there were allegedly also over a million who were left off the voters list.  There are rumours of election "irregularities" aplenty.  Intimidation tactics  such as armed" guards" at some polling stations, threats of civil war if the incumbent lost.  One can only imagine the fear it instilled into these people who have suffered so very much.

Post election has been increasingly tense.  Both parties have claimed victory although the unofficial count is 68/55 for the current ruling party.  The government has moved armoured tanks into Phnom Penh "to keep the peace".  An activist was shot dead in his home although it wasn't "politically motivated" and there have been arrests, all people from the opposition.  Monday, there will be a peaceful demonstration in Phnom Penh which will keep us all on the edge of our seats.  There is an army boat patrolling the river in Kampot, and shiploads of armoured personnel carriers arrived in Sihanoukville.  In spite of all of this, life continues on the surface as if there is nothing afoot.  Naively perhaps, I'm not really concerned about my safety but I am intensely interested in what is going on, reading whatever election news I can uncover.  It is so very fascinating for this Canadian to witness.  It has made me want to shake up Canadians to bring some life back into our political complacency. And perhaps be more appreciative of what a privilege it is to have the life we do.  Perhaps my lack of fear is I know, that at some point, I can leave the turmoil.  I have a choice.

On a lighter note, ants!  I REALLY hate them!

I know you can't really see them that well but believe me when I say there are hundreds, no maybe thousands of them!!!!
 And, there is no escaping them.  Just have a drip fall from the lychee berry while you are eating it and there is a stampede of ants, running over your feet, trying to get to it.  The armies are relentless.  It is a puzzle to figure out where they even come from.  One minute everything is peaceful, then just one mistake, and the ants come marching in!!!!  It is really a motivator to clean up after every meal.  Fortunately, they aren't all that enamoured by coconuts.

The story of our coconuts in photos.

One sunny day...

There were some coconuts

A lovely bunch of coconuts really!

So with a borrowed weapon...

Savann could put his Khmer expertise to good use...

And managed to get us some of that thirst quenching...

Yummy coconut water.  It doesn't get any fresher than this. m-m-m-m-m good!

Now, I have to admit, I have been horribly homesick more often lately.  Eighteen months in, and some days I just feel that I have had it.  With the rains, washing clothes, which is to say  in my basin by hand, means days and days before they dry.  I am so tired of the same food which is seeming more and more bland...I have actually started going for a hamburger once a week, but the frequency may increase in the very near future.  I spend so much time alone.  Will my friends tolerate me when I get home and just can't get enough of them?  My middle is growing! Could it be the lack of exercise?  Or perhaps it is the constant feeling of needing  oral gratification to console my deprivation. The conversation goes something like this:

"Andrea you are so lonely, why don't you go to Veranda and buy yourself a slice of that decadent chocolate cake.  You know how much better you feel".

"Ya! Okay"

Then off I go on my moto,  over hill and dale on muddy dirt roads, chased by monkeys, passing snakes, avoiding the potholes and puddles. It is so very worth it.  

Needless to say, I miss you all more and more. May you be happy, healthy and living your life with purpose.

Love, thoughts, and lots of love,
p.s.  Louise, you are a dear! I loved the snail mail!  I smiled while reading it and loved the photos.  I made short work of the delicious chocolate bar.  Love that we stay in touch.

p.s.s.  Anna! the DVD's were awesome.  Finally an answer to my mystery letter...a Christmas letter from my dear friend Laurence  filled with a year of family photos.

p.p.s.s. Gordon, love the photos!!!

p.p.s.s.s. Ha! ha! not sure what comes next...but Kymberley.  Thank you for being so good to include me into your busy life and ever so thoughtful.

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