Finally I have time to write!
So much has been going on and I have not found the time to update.
Things are much better, initial shock is slightly going away, but sometimes I find myself still emotional or frustrated. We had orientation the first two days here with the other volunteers, so I was able to meet everyone and connect with them. Volunteers here come from all over, USA, South Africa, Denmark, Singapore, Dubai, England, France...etc. Everyone will be working at different places according to what program they wanted to volunteer with. Some will be at orphanages, some with NGO support, some with battered women, some with HIV/AIDS prevention, some with micro finance groups and so on...
Anyways, things are going well here! Except for the heat, it is unbearable, I am literally drenched in sweat all day and night. I already have lost weight here due to the heat and the food...
I cannot eat. I am not hungry at all. I have forced myself to eat so I dont get sick, but it is such a challenge. Initially I was so excited to try all the food and taste the Cambodian fanfare, but ohhhh my goodness it is not easy! Southeast Asia is not an easy place to "try new foods". The first day we went to a place called the Russian Market, it is where hundreds of vendors set up stands and sell goods + food. While in the market, I saw and smelled the most...lets just saw, unpleasant things. Whole pig snouts hanging from wires, whole ducks skinned with their heads still on, squids, snails, seafood and all kinds of meat. The most difficult thing was that they were sitting in the plain heat, not on ice or anything, so the smell was horrendous. I wanted to throw up and almost did several times. At the market I could not eat, I forced myself to eat some noodles and even that was a challenge. Even rice sounds gross to me because all I can think of is the smell. I am such a westernized snob and I hate it. I feel so guilty that I cannot enjoy any food. I really really wish I could. I am sure my body will adjust after awhile.
BUT last night we had an "introduction" dinner and I did try
-Frog (the whole frog, head and all)
-Cockroach (Doesn't taste bad but psychologically freaks me out and makes me think its disgusting!)
-Beef with bugs (could not swallow, kept thinking of bugs in my teeth)
But other than the food the markets are great. There are no prices on anything and you barter everything. They have all kinds of amazing things to sell. The women will follow you until you buy something, or they will say "Laddddyyy, come herrr, i have dif calorr, I sell to you!" Everyone calls you, "Laddddyyyyy" It is funny, but I do feel so bad when I dont buy anything, I am trying hard not to feel guilty. There are tuk tuk drivers everywhere asking if you need a ride, they are so nice. "ehhh tuk tuk, you tuk tuk?"
The people here are so kind. They always are smiling and say "Hallo!", it is so cute and kind of them. I practiced some of the Khmer language with some of the workers at the volunteer house and they loved it. They would laugh at my pronunciation and smile while trying to teach me the words.
My most used phrases:
Sou s' dei - Hello
Aw khon- Thank you
Sohk sabaay te? - How are you
Sohk sabaay- I am fine
Thlai nah- Too expensive (for bartering at the market)
All of the volunteers have been going out together at night, but I am just not interested at this point. I am so tired by 6pm and then I wake up at like 4am every night. I didn't not realize jet lag would last this long but my body is so messed up with time right now. We are 14 hours ahead of WA State, so it is extremely difficult to adjust.
When I start thinking about home, or Gaston, I get emotional. I try not to think about it much so I can fully embrace my trip and so far it has been pretty good. On occasion I randomly will really miss him, especially when I am frustrated and just want to cry. He has provided a lot of support for me before this trip and he continues to message me and text when I have wifi. Errr, it is difficult but I am surprised at how strong I actually am.
Today I actually start working at the orphanage, it is 7 am now and I am being picked up at 8. I am anxious and nervous that my energy wont keep up. Yesterday I played with some children but became extremely dizzy after 30 mins in the heat. Other volunteers have told me they experience the same feelings on occasion...I have been drinking unreal amounts of water and eating nuts and stuff in between meals to keep the protein in my body. But I hope I can give the children the support and affection they need.
I feel dirty all the time, like I can never get clean. I take cold showers and after I am instantly sweating. Nothing will absorb into my body still! No sunblock or bug spray! So I always feel sticky. We walk barefoot when going to a house or sometimes building and it is very dusty and randomly wet also so I feel dirt all over my body. I need to get over feeling so concerned about being dirty and sweating, everyone else is also...but I literally sweat bullets and never have like this before.
Anyways, there is so much to write I don't even know where else to go from here. But here are some points that I want to remember to tell stories about when I come home:
-Moto bike crash
-Man with gun at market
-begging adults with disabilities
-Lady at market saying no photo
-Girls bad news from home
-Kitten at Pagoda
-Women not being close to monks
-Being blessed by Pagoda worker
-Huge water cockroach at restaurant
Everything is going well so far and I am still adjusting, I hope my first day goes well!
Will write soon