Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Puppies, cows, babies, and bombs

Don’t be alarmed by the title, I just thought I had to add something dangerous to make it a little more interesting.

So the neighbors that I have shared a small housing complex with for the last year left today and to be honest I couldn’t have asked for a better first year with them.  They were so hospitable and sympathetic to me and would cook food and feed me whenever I happened to be home.  They have been a huge part of my experience so far.

They worked for the Cambodian Mine Action Committee (CMAC), but don’t worry there aren’t any land mines around my site anymore.  Most of the work they did was up near Chum Kiri where another volunteer is stationed, but they are withdrawing from Kampot (my province) now because there isn't a real need for them here anymore, which is a good thing.

To explain why they were here in the first place is pretty easy.  When the Vietnamese invaded to liberate Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer Rouge would lay random mines all over the country to try and stop the advance.  Now since recordkeeping and mapping of the fields was practically impossible due to the fragmentation of the government, many of these mine fields went unmarked leaving it to the local population to happen upon a shiny object and BOOM!

But I digress, now that they are leaving and moving to a different province I’m really sad to see them go.  Yes, even though they are the ones who cooked the road kill snake for me, among many other strange dishes.  But that’s a story for another time and place.  I want to say that they were a cornerstone of my social support and I will miss them and their families dearly.

The long wait is over for my new host nephew!  He was a whopping 4 kg (8.8 lbs) (large when you consider my host sister who gave birth to him weighs 100 lbs) and he is really cute.  And a litter of 7 puppies was born while I was away visiting America and they are beginning to put on some weight and look healthy.  I hope my sister lets me keep one this time because they sold the last litter.

My Uncle has finally sold his two cows for a cool $1,800.  This last year I have watched as he fed, watered, and cleaned the cows every day,  and now he seems a little lost and doesn’t know what to do with himself all day.  I’m sure at some point he’ll noticed that I’ve been living in a house near his barn and start fattening me up to sell at the market.

Finally, I took a trip to the mountains in a province called Mondulkiri the last weekend before school starts up again and I had a blast.  We had a group of ten people and we stayed in these nice cabins and absorbed the flora and fauna of the area.  We had the opportunity to go to some waterfalls, go swimming, and went to a promontory were we could see for miles.  I feel like the cool mountain air did all of us some good.

That’s all I’ve got for now, it’s back to school next week and I’m happy to finally have something to fill the hours again.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The camera adds 10 lbs... So does America

I would like to thank everyone who made my trip to America memorable.  That was the most fun I have ever crammed into two weeks.  Throughout my trip I was able to see almost all my extended family and all of my immediate family during my visit, along with many good friends.

                Two and a half weeks is by no measure a long time to visit all your friends and family that you have not seen for over a year, but I feel like I did a decent job of seeing everyone barring a few people. 

Not only was my vacation filled with visiting people but it was also something reminiscent of a Roman buffet when everyone eats until they vomit (sorry for the picture but there were many times I ate until I could barely move).  I would also like to thank my mom for all the baked goods I didn’t have much time to indulge in because I was eating unhealthy amounts of other foods.

                The total count of my weight gain while in America was 10 lbs, but it practically melted away once I returned to Cambodia and I am back to my lean self.  Just goes to show how desperate some of us volunteers can be for a burrito.

                I want to thank my Brother and Sister-in-law and their wonderful daughter, Clara, for giving me one excellent weekend at Worlds and Oceans of Fun.  I had a blast, and I can’t believe how big Clara has gotten in my one year absence.

                I would also like to thank my Mom and Grandma because without you two this trip would have never been possible.  They arranged everything and cooked until there wasn’t a food in the house that was wanting.

                Finally, welcome to all the newly minted Peace Corps volunteers in Cambodia (I even have one living in my town) they have 2 years of experiences that will last a lifetime.