Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

2 05 2012

Our Vietnam vacation ended more than a week ago so I guess it’s time to focus once again on life here in Cambodia.

While we were gone, Cambodians celebrated Khmer New Year, officially a three day event that, in reality, often hemorrhages into several weeks. In order to celebrate, most Cambodians return to their “homeland,” which is how they refer to the place where their parents or relatives live. Once the family is all together, people celebrate in different ways. While young single people head to the pagodas to play games and (hopefully) meet their potential mates, married men spend the afternoons immobile in their hammocks. The women are generally busy preparing special meals for the occasion or cleaning their house for the spirits. Families also bring food to offer the monks, as is the custom for most holidays.

People at site told us that this Khmer New Year was especially hot. The director of the health center said his Khmer New Year was “bad, very, very bad” because of the heat. It sounds like many people were without water too, so they couldn’t even cool down with a quick shower. The temperatures here have been steadily hovering around 100 degrees, with the heat index getting even higher. The heat and humidity can make even the most hardworking person feel lazy. And, apparently, for some it can even suck the joy out of a popular holiday season.

Anyway, Khmer New Year is special not only because it is the beginning of a new year—this year is the year of the dragon—but also because Cambodians turn a year older during this time. Birthdays are not widely celebrated here so during Khmer New Year, everyone adds a year to their age.

Most of the festivities were over by the time we arrived back at site but regular activities weren’t quite in full swing yet. So last week we were a bit more relaxed, getting back into the routine and readjusting to the heat. This week has been back to normal, full of meetings with NGOs, English classes, proposal reviews, and paperwork for upcoming projects. And it’s been hard to complain about missing Vietnamese food since this week’s treats have included fresh fruit leather, frog legs and homemade milkshakes (but not at the same time).

I think we both agree that it’s good to be back… but we won’t be here for too long. I’ll be away three weekends this month for training, and Tim will be joining me for two of those. And it might be difficult to gain any real momentum with projects because May has six—count ‘em, six!— holidays. It is, however, a great month to reconnect with the people we missed while in Vietnam and to plan for summer projects. As always, we’ll keep you updated.

Katie

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One response

5 05 2012
Barbara Muller

I’m not familiar with fruit leather. Please explain. Wow, it still sounds like you will be very busy with other things rather than regular routines.

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