Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Cambodia.


December 16, 2009: Saying Good Bye Soon

Posted in Cambodia on December 17, 2009

Today a few more members of our group succumbed to traveler’s ailments. The rest of us headed out to install septic systems. Once the holes are dug, it’s actually quite satisfying work. We all enjoy the meditative aspects of bricklaying. The downside is that there are only three trowels per site, and some of them are being used by Cambodian expert masons, so we have to take turns. For those of you who are from California, you will understand when we say it’s something akin to watching CalTrans workers on the freeway, or a joke that starts with the line, “How many volunteers does it take to build an outhouse?”
We tried to be productive by setting an example and picking up trash around the yard.

Jackie ran into a challenge when she needed to cut some bricks in half to fit an imperfect space. Seeing her attempt to break brick with an axe without cracking them into awkward shapes, a little girl in the family came along, took the axe from her and made a perfect cut. Brian mobilized a group of children to help carry bricks. His teammates report that he also slipped while working and put his hand right into a cow patty.

At one of the houses, there is a goat pen containing goats of all sizes and colors. There is nothing like the smell of goats in the morning! In the afternoon, the children take the goats out of the pen and herd them into the countryside to feed and stretch their legs. It’s fun to watch them trotting along. The other house has a very large and in charge pig rooting around. At a third house where we are to start work tomorrow there are two doe-faced cows tied up at the side of the house and an adorable speckled piglet running around.

Our hosts served us jack fruit and bananas and a third fruit the size of a kiwi but with a large seed and gooey white stuff inside (not all that popular). Jack fruit looks like a big honeydew melon with spikes on the skin. Inside it has compartments of fruit around a seed. It tastes a little like pineapple but has a rubbery texture. The bananas here are smaller than the ones we have at home and are a lot more flavorful. The bananas have seeds in them that are about the size of a pine nut.

We returned a bit earlier than usual to the hotel; most of us took a swim before heading out to dinner. Tomorrow is our last work day, so we are feeling a bit let down, knowing that members of our group will be going their separate ways and we will have to say goodbye soon.

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