Had a frustrating night last night when the internet provider at the hotel decided to firewall me from my website. So what did I do? I still wrote my blog. Wrote in in notes and then copied and pasted when the problem was solved. Just like I do when I am somewhere with no internet. You mean you have been to places with no internet? How could you survive? I survive very well in those places and sometimes yearn for the golden years of long ago when the internet did not exist.
Met Zayaa for breakfast at 7:30 in the dining room. Our hotel serves your typical Asian breakfast. Fried rice, porridge, meats and vegetables. Of course there are some egg dishes and lots of coffee.
Sarrak picked us up at 8:30. I have known Sarrak for almost ten years and he is one of the most gentle and beautiful people I have ever met. He and I have a special bond and we enjoy each others company so much. We were hitting the road again into rural Cambodia to a high school in a village named “Srei Snam”. This is the first year that a Dream Team was established in that high school and the third high school that has established a Dream Team. Remember what the Dream Team is.
First we stopped at a place named “Theam’s House”. Theam is a local artist who paints mostly portraits of the Cambodian people. He also has a workshop where other artists make and display their craft. Theam has a gift for capturing the unique facial features of the Cambodian people. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through this beautiful studio and house seeing his work and the crafts of others.
It was then time to hit the road for the long journey ahead to “Srei Snam”. Dena, a graduate of the Scholarship program, also joined us. So here were all were. The four of us, Sarrak, Zayaa, Dena and myself driving through the beautiful and interesting Cambodia countryside towards a school and village that I had never been to and to speak to children that I had never met. We first stopped for an early lunch. Lunch was good, but I could not eat much due to the heat and humidity. It was then onto the school. We passed people who were fishing with nets in small rivers around the rice patties. Some of the people just waited in the water for a fish to arrive and then net the fish. Imagine standing in almost stagnate water waiting for a fish to swim close enough to you so you can net the fish in very hot and humid weather. Almost all of us could never imagine this. Zayaa was amazed by what we passed. I kept on taking pictures of Cambodians in their weird looking vehicles.
We finally arrived ate the school. The school was so organized. As soon as I got out of the truck a small group of girls greeted me with their hand greeting and great Cambodian smile. I love that smile so much. It was now into the room to wait for the new Dream Team to arrive. What should I say? I kept on thinking of my talk in my head and practicing it in my mind. About twenty students finally arrived. About 50/50 boys and girls. None of them spoke much English so Sarrak acted as interpreter. Sarrak is such a great interpreter. He is so enthusiastic when we work together. I took a small chair and sat in the middle of the room facing these twenty strangers. Here I go. I started with telling them how many times I have been to their country. Where I come from, why they are special and all about my family. How many children I have, how many grandchildren and how many years I have been married. I then get into why school is so important. I tell them that I treat the scholarship students like my children. I then share with them my travel to Mongolia last year and introduce Zayaa. It was then time to get into some pictures. I then explained to them “Eagle Hunters” and where the eagles come from, how they are trained, what they are used for, and that they are returned back into nature. The students loved this tale. Then Zayaa passed around a Mongolian winter hat made from fox with fur and hide. Many of them tried the hat on and we all got to laugh. I also explained to them the Gobi dessert and showed them pictures of the camels and people. Zayaa then showed them pictures of the Yert Tents the people live in. How they heat the Yert with dung and furnish the inside. Zayaa also explained to them the difference between her face and theirs. Her high cheek bones and almost no eye lashes. She explained to them that their beautiful black eyes are so rare and desired in Mongolia. Zayaa did such a wonderful job of relating to the students and how she has spent her whole life in school and how school is so important.
The students wanted to see and hear more. I asked them what is the only continent in the world that no one lives in? One girl guessed Antartica and here I went. We showed them a map of southern Argentina and Antartica. I explained to them what the “Drake Passage” is and how I traveled by boat to Antartica. We also showed them a youtube of the Drake Passage and many of them could not believe the size of the ocean and the enormous waves that were created. I explained to them as to why the ocean is so rough there and that there are numerous ship wreaks there. I also explained to them that this was the main reason why the Panama Canal was built and we got into a brief history of that. It was then onto the pictures. Snow and ice in the summer. Penguins, seals and whales. Icebergs and blue ice. I went on and on as they sat in awe and listened to story after story. My voice was starting to get horse and they had to go to class so we all said our fair wells. I told them to make me proud of them by seeing all of them in Siem Reap as scholarship students.
We finally left the school and started to head back to Siem Reap. I had such a great time with them and wished we could have spent more time together. I had so much more to tell them
Half way home the skies opened up. We headed into a torrential downpour. Lightning and thunder was all over us as the skies rained down. Zayaa was so happy in seeing it rain this way. It never rains like this in Mongolia. As we drove closer to Siem Reap, the roads and countryside became more and more flooded. As we hit Siem Reap, the roads became almost impassable. This is supposed to be the dry season. What will happen in the rainy season?
We finally were dropped off at the hotel and I found out that the hotel had fixed my computer problem. I was right and all problems were solved.
Kimsru and Konnitha picked us up at 6:30 via Tuk Tuk. We went to a restaurant that has you make your own food and soup at your table. You order the meats, fish, vegetables etc and cook everything yourself. I just watched in wonder as the energy of Kimsru cooked our meals. No one could keep up with this human dynamo. She is a wonder to watch.
I am about ready to close my eyes and hope everyone has enjoyed my experiences today.