Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Cambodia.

December 14, 2009: The Humidity Creates Challenges

Posted in Cambodia on December 15, 2009

Chamroen and Rodelle went back to Siem Reap Sunday, so now our party is down to 18 people. Chambroen will be taking an English exam today and we all wish him well.
After a very relaxing weekend, we faced work Monday with a little less enthusiasm than usual. There was a thunderstorm during the night and the lightening was so bright it lit up the entire bay. In the morning we noticed how the intense humidity quickly sapped our energy. Team 2 set out to try to finish the tall house, while Team 1 worked in the community garden weeding, hoeing and planting.
As Team 2 approached the house, they could hear strange, discordant music floating in the air. There was a funeral taking place at the house closest to the one we are building, less than a quarter mile away. The music and funeral keening went on all morning. Even if we were able to finish the house on Monday, we felt it would be inappropriate to hold a housewarming party on the same day as the funeral. We expected to see signs of the body burning, but none of us noticed any smoke, so we are not sure exactly what transpired.
Team 2 worked hard all day on their house but was able to finish by the end of the day; we attribute the difficulty with finishing to the considerable size of this particular family’s Dream. The Crosby, Stills and Nash lyrics, “Our house is a very, very, very fine house," keeps running through our minds. We are now adding horizontal sticks to the sides to hold down the thatch. That requires climbing to the top of ladders and scaffold and sticking wires through the thatch. We also built a lattice as a decorative touch and hauled in dirt for the porch. The family is already sleeping in the unfinished house.
Team 1 cultivated a four-row planting plot with the big hoes in the morning. The woman who owns the plot is 35 and has five children; she and her husband already have a house, but have no way to earn a living, so their Family Dream is the garden plot. The woman was so at home working barefoot in the garden. It was as if she grew out of the Earth herself. The main job was to remove the weeds from the four beds and reshape them into two 2 large, wide beds.
The rain from the previous night ratcheted up the humidity, so it felt appreciably hotter working in the full sun. The infrequent breezes caused joyful expressions of relief. The work was not complicated, but it was challenging physically, especially because of the heat. After lunch, there were two more garden beds to reshape and then plant with spinach seeds.
Our Fearless Leader, Tommy Marx, was ill today and had to spend the afternoon sleeping at The Vine. We are so used to him being such a bundle of energy, it was especially hard to see him suffer. He was really down for the count with stomach cramps for awhile there. Although he seemed much better by the time we picked him up at the end of the day, he was not back to 100 percent.

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