Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho Ho Khmer Style

Well it’s been almost three months since we moved here and it seems like 3 weeks.

Most of the time.
It’s Christmas in Cambodia and it certainly is different. Christmas is not a holiday here, since this is primarily a Buddhist country. Heck most of the time you don’t even know what day it is. I had a meeting with Aki Ra this morning and we were trying to figure out when the next mine field visit would be. I suggested Monday and we both had to stop and figure out when Monday was (today is Thursday – I just looked at my watch).

The ‘official’ work schedule for Jill and I at the Museum is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Wednesday in town and off on the weekends. We don’t go to the Museum on Wednesdays because that is the day the art teacher comes and there are no English classes.
So far we have been at the Museum every weekend except 1. And that is not a complaint. There is just a lot that needs to be done, and we are happy to pitch in where and when we can. And being around the kids is always an experience.

We are taking off Christmas day, tomorrow. Saturday I’ll be at the Museum by 9am since we have a contractor coming out to quote on finishing the wall around the compound before it falls down.

Monday I am taking our volunteer, Harvendar to the mine field. We finish this field next week and she leaves in 3 weeks. Then Wednesday we are doing the First Annual Landmine Museum Shop Inventory. We hope to have it done by noon.

The kids are just amazing. There is not a day that goes by that they don’t have a smile on their face, and a hug for Jill and I. For all they have been through I would expect some ‘down time’, but we just don’t see it.

One of the kids, Boreak, is an excellent footballer (soccer for you Yanks). I knew he had a tournament coming up soon so I asked him when it was. He told me they couldn’t play since they didn’t have uniforms. They do now. They are sponsored by the LMRF. The money was donated to buy uniforms for all 20 kids. Now they just have to win the school round to go to the ‘big’ city of Siem Reap to play.

One of the girls in the Museum shop is getting married this weekend and she gave Jill and I an invitation to attend. The wedding is Sunday. It starts at 11am. That will be half time in the Emerald Bowl, which is being shown here live. (BC vs USC). No doubt in the world where I will be. I love Khmer weddings…I just have to find my earplugs. The music is Khmer… and loud. And barrangs (foreigners) get the seat of honor…right in front of the speakers. I’ve lost enough of my hearing already…..

Now if any of you don’t know me well, I’ll tell you that I am a HUGE college football fan, and I live and breathe USC. I haven’t seen a game since we left in October and have had the Emerald Bowl on my calendar ever since I found it was live here. But…no way I will miss this wedding.

Someone asked why I don’t Tevo it. I laughed so hard I almost wet myself.

More as Christmas and New year progress.

Happy Holidays from all of us to all of you.

Babu in the Jungle

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Month of Firsts

What a hectic month its been.

I thought when Jill and I moved over here we could develop a routine and things would find some sort of 'normalcy'.

I was wrong.......

We are accomplishing a lot, but my goodness, it certainly is hectic.

We've got a real nice house to rent here in Siem Reap. We have several bedrooms, one of which we use for an office, a living room/dining room and a kitchen. We even have a washing machine. And that, my friends, is a BIG deal. I spent 2 years washing my dirty clothes in a plastic bucket. No more.

Well, to the firsts.

---I visited our newest mine field last week, and got to see my first 'bouncing betty' blown up. A bouncing betty is a landmine that has 2 charges. The first blows it into the air. The second kills you. It's activated when you step on it. Nice to see another one bite the dust

---Jill and I spent our first Thanksgiving outside the US and figured we'd just have another day at work. But our friends Jed and Terry, who own the Warehouse fed 25 of us. And they did it from a restaurant that isn't much begger than the one we had in our first house.

And it was their anniversary.
---Mikki (our mutt from home) saw her first water buffalo and tried to jump out of the car.

---We got our first visitor! Scottie Williams, who we've known for about 15 years (from the Clipper games) got some time off from school and took a 1 week trip to Thailand. Well it was really a 3 day trip to Thailand 'cause he took the bus to Siem Reap with his friend Valerie and they stayed with us for a couple of days.
---Jill trained her first volunteer, Harvindar (from London) at the Museum School and she starts full time on the 7th.

---I got to watch my first half marathon in Cambodia, Today (Dec 6) was pretty interesting. The Angkor Wat Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and Bike Race started this morning at 0620. we made it there at 7am. It looked like thousands running. I've done 11 marathons, 6 half's and a bunch of 10ks. this was a well run as any I've ever seen, and a LOT better than most.

Maybe I should run next year................

This week is kinda up in the air. We have some folks here from the US doing a story on land mines and that will take some of our time.

We may have found our truck! It's a Russian troop carrier and fits our budget. It will allow us to move everyone and all the equipment to the field in one shipment. Right now we need to make multiple trips. At least the mine field we are working right now is near by. The next one is way out in the jungle and we need to have that freakin' truck by the end of the month.


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Babu out
back soon