Thursday, April 28, 2011

April (Most of it) (04/18/2011)

These past couple of days have been spent on vacation due to Kmai New Year. I spent all of the New Year at site, but before New Years I did a little traveling, mostly to Phnom Penh for some awesome free books for the school library. The other traveling I did involved scenic biking, some mountains, forests, leeches, lots of leeches, sun, rain, and seeing some good friends. There are plenty of pics up on facebook. Let me know if you can't see them because they were taken by Peace Corps friends. Also, you should check out the leech vid, its a cute clip of my favorite foresty friends (on my leg).

New Years here was fun, but actually not so eventful. We ate a lot of good food and tons of fruit. At night we went to play some games, though I guess my host sister is still hanging with the hs kids. I feel a little out of place because I'm technically an adult. It's weird to feel out of place there, but kids in HS are just at an age of silliness that I can no longer purposefully imitate. I'm totally fine speaking nonsense and running around with/like the two year-old, but being one with the HS kids is just too close for comfort. I offered food to the monks at the Wat and sort of messed up, but he gave me a redo so my karmic points are all good. We also caught the ice cream moto man so it was a really good trip to the Wat. I also went to Siem Reap city for a few hours with my host sister and brother and I showed them around the supermarket.

At first, they were sort of hesitant to enter. Then even asked me if they could just go in to look and not buy anything. I was like...yea. Then I sprayed my host brother with some random Adidas cologn to show how much you can take advantage of the supermarket's hospitality. Then we went around and compared the prices of everything to our local markets. Of course, a lot of stuff in the supermarket you can't buy anywhere else, but they really do jack up the prices of things. When we were about to leave my host bro runs back to the Adidas section and sprays himself some more. I'm glad I picked out a fragrance that he enjoys. Then we went to this carnival place on the side of the road. I've been there a few times before, but this time we didn't go to ride the rusty ferris wheel. We went shoe shopping. Here, you can get a pair of used shoes for a dollar. Not used Cambodian shoes, you can't really sell those used cause they fall apart in a few weeks. You got italian shoes, korean shoes, other random country shoes. I'm sorta thinking that expats decide to throw away their shoes and they somehow end up here and I end up buying them for a dollar. Though I actually didn't buy anything this time. I feel like, for a dollar, these shoes better be perfect so I'm waiting for a time in the future.

At the carnival we met up with a classmate of my sister's at midwifery school. In Cambodia, midwives a licensed medical professionals with responsibilities similar to those of nurses and with the complete lack of doctors they usually take the place of doctors in most Health Centers. I'm pretty sure there's some kind of gender barrier for women that want to study to be nurses. For sure, no men are midwives because men can't possibly deliver babies in this country, the gender roles are too strict in this area. Anyway, we meet up with her and her dad drives her here on his moto. I feel sort of bad because my bro just waits for us the whole time. I thought he'd go do something fun...

So we finish, and I think we're heading home, but we end up eating Mee Cha for dinner. This is a dish sort of like stir-fried noodles. Can't really describe how it's different from chinese takeout noodles, but it's different. I'll make some for you guys when I get home. The girls' dad pays and then we head off again, only to stop once more at the girls' house. It's only polite because her dad paid for dinner. We chit chat a bit and by we chit chat I mean I go through the usual first meeting blurb with the parents, while the kids play on the new laptop (its a typical first year of college Dell, actually sent from Boston by a relative, hopefully it won't go the way of Kerry's laptop). Near the end of the convo the dad asks me a question. I'm not sure I get it so I ask him to repeat. Then I repeat the part I'm sure I understood" You need how much ___(blank)___ to get a wife?" The word in the blank was money. I had heard correctly the first time, but cultural differences made me unable to comprehend. I responded that you don't need to give money for a wife, though in some cases I guess that can be debated. He understands instantly, "Oh you marry for love". I heartily agree with firm nodding of head. I ask him, "how much does it cost for a wife in Cambodia?" His wife replies, "10,000....Dollars" I was like ")*@#*(@&# shit" That is a fortune. Anywhere, but especially in Cambodia. I think she notices my shock and quickly tells me that sometimes its only 5000 or if they are really poor sometimes 200. But, I guess that the value of a woman's life here.

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