Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanksgiving and Other Randomness....

Thanksgiving and other Randomness….
Sorry, this is old. Christmas is a week away, but I thought I'd share what I did for Thanksgiving here in Bodia. For Thanksgiving my province had language training in the next province over. It was absolutely wonderful. We were able to have chicken (Turkey or “foreigner chicken” here is VERY expensive), mashed potatoes, green beans, spaghetti, and other amazing food! I even got to do a little baking. I made my mom/grandma’s apple cake which tasted almost as good as it does at home. I baked a pumpkin pie (my friend Kellee’s friend, who is awesome, sent us pumpkin pie filling). Normally, I’m terrible at making crust, but somehow even using rice flower and only having a toaster oven, it all turned out amazing! On Saturday, we ate tons of jelly beans (or at least I know I did! Thanks grandma!! I finished them off the next week) and watched James Bond and then the Sound of Music. We all questioned why Peace Corps didn’t send us to Eastern Europe! (In the pictures is Kellee and Jac eating breakfast near the Market in Prey Vieng and the second is Jac riding Khmer style while Kellee is attempting to maneuver the bike. The first attempt was jac straddling the bike backwards while Kellee almost crashed. I almost wet my pants laughing so hard- I’m sure all the khmer watching were, too. I’m sure they’ll be talking about it for years. They all thought it was the funniest thing…foreigners trying to ride on the back of bikes! CRAZY Barangs!)

Other than that, not too much else is going on here. Still trying to get my schedule down and making enough free time to read and learn Khmer. I do have a couple funny stories to share. The other week I was making students write what they did yesterday in order to practice using the past perfect tense. One kid wrote that he went swimming. I was trying to get him to make his sentence longer so I asked him who he went swimming with. Of course he didn’t understand my question in English. So, I thought, sure I’ll give my Khmer a go. So, I said in Khmer, who did you swim with? Did you swim with a water buffalo….or so I thought that was what I said. He gave me a really funny look (which is not at all an uncommon response to my Khmer). My co-teacher then said, “Do you realize you just asked him if he wanted to go swimming with a bomb”? Oops!
In my 12th grade class I do the pronunciation of the new vocabulary words. This involves me standing in front of the class saying the word slowly, carefully enunciating all syllables, and then having the class repeat after me multiple times until I think they’ve pronounced it correctly or until I’m convinced they will never pronounce it correctly no matter how many times we say it together. We were covering a section titled “Protect the Baby”. One of the words the book (and the teacher) thought the students should know was “breast feed”. And why not, if they were in an English speaking country or chatting it up with a foreigner, breastfeed would be an important word to know. Seriously. Repeat after me class, “BREASTFEED, B-R-E-A-S-T-F-E-E-D………"and I’m supposed to be a health volunteer…….
The other day I was in the provincial town with the girls from my province. We were biking home from eating dinner at the river. As you can see from the picture (picture of water) that it is absolutely beautiful! Anyway, the four of us were riding our bikes home in the dark and I was on the back of Jac's bike because Suzannah cannot bring hers because she takes a taxi. Anyway, were riding down this dark side street, trying to see the road and attempting to avoid being attacked by REALLY scary dogs, when Jac notices that Kellee has stopped in the middle of the road. Jac then swerves and we literally run into a tree head-on! We were okay, but thought that it was the funniest thing. This tree incident left no marks on either of us, luckily. Apparently, there was a huge hole in the road causing Kellee to stop!

Finally, one of my co-teachers told me this week, in all seriousness, said to me that if it snows in Cambodia- he’s moving! If it snowed in Cambodia, it would only be foreigners left.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rice Harvest

Last weekend my family harvested their rice plots and they invited me to join. Now, I must confess up front that when I say join, I mean I watched, took pictures and then rode my bike home when I got hot. I maybe stayed an hour. The part of the harvesting process I "participated" in was the threshing. A day or so before I showed up, they had already hand cut the stalks of rice. My cousin had invited me to help assuring me that there were no snakes. I told him I would be willing to try as long as there weren’t snakes. He said no snakes, but there were leaches and they hurt when they bite you. I was going to give it a go, but he went ahead and did it without me and told me the next day that he had already cut the rice. I was pretty tore-up about it (here you read loads of sarcasm). Actually, had he invited me to go that morning I probably would have. However, I’m sure he realized how much more work it would have been to invite me and show me how to do it. It’s definitely hard work. You have this hand tool -not sure the technical term, but my vocabulary would describe it as a skinny machete that looks like a hook(?)-and you are bending over cutting the rice stalks down. Now, as I’m sure you’ve ascertained from this blog, it’s freaking hot here. While it’s "cold" season (don’t believe it folks- it’s not cold) the rice fields seem to absorb the heat and hold it in. So when you’re in the field and there is a cool breeze you’re still hot because you can feel the heat from the rice escaping the stalks. Then, the sun comes out and it’s really hot. Being a rice farmer is hard work, which is almost the sole reason why I’ve decided to like rice.
This was the first year my family (that is my aunt and uncle, I’m not sure my parents grow rice- or at least I’ve not been invited to the field yet) used a machine to thresh the rice. It took them all morning to run it through the machine, can you imagine doing it by hand- I can’t?!? Harvesting rice takes a lot of people. As you can see from the pictures there are a lot of people involved. It was not only my dad, aunt, uncle and cousins, but neighbors and friends. Everyone helps everyone. Even with a machine it’s a lot of work- and that’s just the threshing!