While life here in Cambodia has become pretty mundane with the day-in and day-out routine of teaching, there are times when the reality of where I am catches me by surprise.
Last week my friend Kellee was extremely bored (and broke) so she came to visit me. These are my top favorite memories of her visit.
1. Kellee told my family in Khmer that she could not eat the vegetables they wanted to put in her soup because they made her "Sh**". One word makes the difference between poop and sh**. Kellee didn't know that. It was awesome. EVERYONES face fell and became silent. I might tell them that next time I don't want to eat something.....
2. Kellee ate dog. We were invited to bike 3K (and in the dark) to another Aunt's house to see a cousin's new baby and to celebrate. We are sitting on the table with everyone drinking rice wine and EVERYONE is- of course- trying to make us eat even though we just ate a HUGE meal. Kellee decides to try some of the meat that is sitting in front of us. Then before eating, she brilliantly asks, "what kind of meat is this?" To which my grandpa responds, dog. Kellee says, "oh". Then they somehow convince her to try it! They then tried to convince me to eat it to which I said "no way, I'm full." Kellee is obviously way more fun than me:)We told them we never eat dog in America. My grandpa responds, everyone in Cambodia eats dog.
3. Kellee and I visit my health center. Now, the doctors at my health center love me. I've not quite figured out why because I only teach them English, but they do. Because Kellee came they thought it a good reason to have a party and eat soup. So we go eat soup and they teach us new Khmer words....like fall. Kellee fell off her bike on the ride into town and has a HUGE bruise on her leg. At lunch, she lifts up her skirt to show them this massive bruise on her leg. I think Kellee is the doctors new favorite. Oh, and some teachers joined us after we'd been there for 2 hours. One of the teachers told us that he was never going to marry because he was ugly and poor. What do you say to that?!? We gave him our sad faces.
It was fun to have Kellee visit. I really felt that everyone I interact with in my village went out of their way to make my friend's visit good and by extension showed me how much they appreciated me and liked having me live in their community. Khmer people really are the kindest and most generous people. What little they have in material wealth they'd give to you.
I then decided I would go visit Kellee. This did not go so well because I ended up getting sick. Kellee and I ended up taking a taxi from my site to the Provencal town and then did the 40K bike ride to her site. while her road is 3/4 of the way paved...40K is FAR! In the morning when I woke up I didn't feel well at all. My body ached all over and I felt like I was going to vomit. We then went to breakfast where I couldn't eat anything...even the coffee I couldn't get down. We then said hi to her health center folk and i went back to her house and slept the rest of the day. I did start feeling a little better that night which was good because we had dinner plans with her co-teacher and his friends. I made it through dinner but when we went home I started feeling worse. Then the next morning as I was leaving to head back to the Provencal town I got the worst case of diarrhea I've ever had in my life (disgusting I know). To make matters worse, her bathroom is downstairs, like an outhouse, and the toilet is a hole in the ground. I will just say not good. Later that morning I caught a taxi back to the Provencal town and decided I COULD NOT do the 2- 2 1/2 hour bike ride home so i checked into a guest house. This was wise. The next morning I was feeling a little better and decided to try to bike home so I could skype with my family. However, I was a bit nervous about how the trip would go since the D was still with me. Now, there is this Peace Corps Cambodia story that has trickled its way down to my group of volunteers. There was a girl in Peace Corps who was biking home and felt that she might have diarrhea within the next minute. So being the quick witted PC volunteer that she is, she rode her bike into a rice patty, did her business, and told her family when she got home that she crashed her bike. If true, BRILLIANT. luckily I made it home safely and the D was gone 3 days later. I'm pretty convinced I had giardia. It's common here and I had all the symptoms (diarrhea, sulfur smelling burps...). I'm now feeling much better. Next post I fully intend on telling you about weddings here in Cambodia...