So the other night, after everyone went to bed, something DRAMATIC happened!!! Did I get your attention? Good. Here we go…

I was doing my nightly ritual of starring at my bedroom wall, when suddenly, amidst my wall contemplation, I heard running across the roof! Chaos then ensued as Fiesty and Supermom started shouting “Theif! Get off our roof! Go get a shirt!” And then everyone started yelling.

(I’ll be honest. It took me a few seconds to translate things in my head. My first thought was that Moneybags had somehow fallen out of the house because he was plastered when he went to bed. Then I heard them saying “thief” which sounds a lot like grandchild so I thought the grandchildren were on the roof. After a few seconds I realized I was wrong on both accounts.)

Apparently, there were thieves at our house! Naturally, I went outside to see what was up.

The first thing I saw was Hats walking around with her flashlight and carrying a big stick. I have no idea how she got downstairs so fast. There was maybe a 20 second delay between the start of the yelling and me going outside. My room was much closer to the event than Hats’ room, but still she beat me. How did she do it? My first thought would be that she jumped out the second story window, but then there are bars on the window so that couldn’t have been it. My second thought, and most likely scenario, is that she apparated down from the house.

So Hats was running around with a stick saying “Where did they go!? I’m going to hit them! They were in my kitchen! On my house!” She then stomped off into the woods looking for the men.

I also saw Muscles and Awesome walking around the house making sure there weren’t any more thieves, but they didn’t seem too concerned. Moneybags never even went outside. He was just looking out the second story window with his flashlight saying, “Well, they’re gone. We should all go back to sleep now.”

Back to sleep?! Is he crazy?!

Feisty was still busy yelling and telling everyone within hearing distance what happened. She was also looking out an upstairs window, but apparently the thief had been right outside her window so she felt the need to repeat the story over and over. So here is how the conversation went:

Me: What happened?

Feisty: There were 2 men on the roof! They weren’t wearing shirts! They had knives! I didn’t know them.

Me: Oh no! They had knives?

Feisty: Yes! They were on the roof right outside my window. They weren’t wearing shirts. I didn’t know them!

Then Hats came back and asked,

Hats: What happened?

Feisty: There were 2 men on the roof! They weren’t wearing shirts! They had knives! I didn’t know them.

Hats: What were they doing?

Feisty: They weren’t wearing shirts! I didn’t know them!

Me: Yea. I think we got those two points.

Feisty: I saw them and told them to go away and get a shirt!

Geez, what is with her obsession with the shirts? Two men just tried to rob us and she can’t get over the fact that they were shirtless?

Me: What did they want?

Feisty: They wanted the outside light bulb! That’s why they had knives! They wanted to cut out the light bulb!

….

Everyone stared at Feisty.

Me: What? Why wouldn’t they just unscrew the light bulb?

Fesity: Because they’re thieves and they weren’t wearing shirts!

Hats: Child, you’re stupid. Of course, they were here to steal our money.

Awesome: I think they wanted to steal our motos.

Me: That’s dumb. There aren’t motos on the roof.

Muscles: Maybe they wanted the t.v.?

Moneybags: Can’t we all just go back to sleep?!?

Me: But what if the thieves come back?

Hats: Oh they’re not coming back. They’re afraid I’ll kill them. I’ll hit them so hard they might die.

With that everyone went back to bed. Who would’ve thought Hats would be so territorial?

The best part of the all this was that No-Clothes, who sleeps outside to prevent things like this from happening, SLEPT THROUGH THE WHOLE THING. We were all yelling and running around him and he didn’t stir. Hats even kicked him and called him lazy and still, nothing.

I would say the thieves made a poor decision in the selection of houses to rob. There are 11 people who live in my tiny house. It’s pretty much impossible to break in without somebody hearing something. Better luck next house.

*In Moneybags defense, he was still pretty drunk when all this went down. He probably would’ve been more aggressive had he been thinking clearly.

First, read this article…

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2012021454496/National-news/a-vigilant-valentines.html

So, naturally, I’m sure you guys are wondering how I survived the anarchy that was Valentine’s Day. I have to admit, it wasn’t easy. Luckily, the police were out in full force to help protect me.

1. I made sure to steer clear of all high school boys. It seems in this article they have no issue enabling young girls to sacrifice their traditional values.
2. I made sure my host parents knew where I was at all times so I wouldn’t be tempted to sneak off. We all know that leads to trouble.
3. I made sure to stay away from all guest houses lest I be tempted to check in for 3 hours doing God knows what horrors. But it’s only $5.
4. I successfully evaded all flower sellers and reported any I saw to the police. We all know their underlying evil motive to completely strip young girls of any values whatsoever.
5. Whenever I felt my resolve failing I re-watched the government sponsored video warning people of the dangers of Valentine’s Day. Stay in school!
6. I worked extra hard to stay vigilant making sure I was always aware of my surroundings. Nobody wants to unknowingly be sucked into a day of anarchy.

I would encourage us all to make sure to take these steps next Valentine’s Day, especially those people who live in Cambodia. Because as Touch Naruth from the article said, “We just want to prevent anarchy.” Amen to that.

Every once and awhile Hats likes to play a little game where she tries to guilt trip me into giving her more money. For some reason she thinks I have an abundance of it hidden somewhere. So, the other day I was riding to a wedding with Hats, Moneybags, and Chief when suddenly Hats says,

“Sally, I’m disappointed in you.”

Oh lord, she wants to play the game.

“Okay…um…why?”

“Because you did not bring me back any money from America. You should have brought me money because I want to build a new house.”

“I don’t have any money in America. How would I have brought you money?”

“You should have worked and made lots of money to give to me. That is what a good daughter would do. If I went to America for a month I would make lots of money so I could build a new house.”

“What? That’s not possible. No way you’re going to go to America for one month and make enough money to build a house. I don’t think you’d even make enough to pay for the plane ticket.”

“Ohhhhh Sally you lie. I know better than this. I have a friend who lives in America. She makes $5,000 a month.”

“Okay. Where does your friend work?”

“She works on a tomato farm.”

“Haha! There is no way she makes $5,000 a month working on a tomato farm. I don’t believe you.”

“It’s true! She works on the tomato farm and makes $5,000 a month. Because you do not love me I am going to go to America and work on the tomato farm for a month. I will make $5,000 and then I will come back and build my house.”

“Oookay. I wish you luck with that.”

“Yes I will get a passport and fly to America.”

“Yea, I’m thinking what your looking for is more of a cargo crate snuck onto a ship. You don’t need a passport for that.”

I believe I won that round. There’s no way that she’s going to convince me that’s true.

If people could make $5,000 a month picking tomatoes then we would not have immigrants working those farms. Instead they’d be filled with college grads and social workers.

At least now I know one reason people emigrate from Cambodia to America: Hats is spreading rumors that a simple tomato picker can make $60,000 a year. I’d move there too.

*Moneybags and Chief laughed through this whole conversation. They knew what was up.

Well, it’s been about a year since I wrote my last blog so I’ve decided to give you guys a brief history of events. Brace yourselves…

Around April of last year I went on a 2-week vacation and returned to a house divided. Apparently, while I was gone Awesome stole lots of money from Moneybags to buy beer for his friends and so Moneybags got mad and told Awesome he had to move out. Then Fiesty was all like “But I loooove my husband! Please let him come home!” So then Moneybags was like “Fine! He can come back when he has my money and I’m not so angry!” Hence, Awesome and Fiesty up and moved to Thailand to build houses and make lots of money. Fiesty took all my shoes with her. So I returned home to discover Awesome and Feisty gone and me the proud owner of only the shoes on my feet.

Months go by and I begin to notice that Supermom is getting fatter, but only in her waist. She looked pregnant to me, but I felt I couldn’t be correct in that because surely my family would’ve told me she was pregnant, right? Finally at about month 7 of her pregnancy I could ignore it no longer and asked Hats, “Is Supermom pregnant?” Hats just laughed and laughed. Then she told all her friends what I asked so they could join in the laughter. After the laughter died down she said (loosely translated) “Duh she’s pregnant. Did you think she was just getting fat? That’s ridiculous.” Okay, sorry I come from a country where it’s a mortal sin to ask a non-pregnant woman if she is pregnant. I was just trying not to burn bridges.

So in August, Supermom had a baby boy. His name is Jing Fu, but everyone calls him Odie. I named him Peter.

Later, in September, I came home from a long day at work and found Fiesty just sitting at the house like she never even left. And she looked pregnant. Awesome was nowhere in sight so I thought “I must tread lightly here”. Then, I was all like “Where’s your husband?” because I realized I don’t know how to be subtle in the Khmer language. “In Thailand making money,” She replied. I then took a gigantic risk and inquired, “How many months pregnant are you?” Luckily her response was not a slap to the face, but “6 months pregnant.” Whew.

Eventually, Awesome returned in October with the money. He would’ve stayed longer, but the flooding forced him to leave. I jokingly asked him if he had to swim back, but he didn’t get it. He just looked at me like I was stupid and said “No. I rode a taxi back.” Now the family is reunited and all’s well for the time being. We anxiously await the birth of Feisty’s baby and I now must come up with a name for him too. Suggestions?

Blimey. So as some of you may know I recently returned to the States for a brief visit. Of course it was great seeing everyone, but good lord you guys were all over me about the blasted blog. I had no idea people really read it. I just thought my parents and Uncle Chip were being nice. Apparently Uncle Bo didn’t even understand my blog. So, as all lazy and misunderstood authors do, I quit writing and just told myself stories in my head. They were funny stories too. Unfortunately I don’t remember them so you guys will never hear them.

Fortunately for you guys I have 7 months left here in Boring Bavel and I decided maybe I can spice up my last days here by writing on my blog again. I’ll try to post something around once a week. Then maybe you guys will leave me in peace.

So the other day, I was sitting and enjoying a juicy watermelon when Hats and Moneybags came up to me and announced,

“Sally, in 2 weeks you need to give Grams a bath.”

I was dumbfounded. So many things about that sentence just didn’t make sense to me. Since when did Grams forget how to bathe? Why in 2 weeks? Is there some sort of bathing schedule that I was unknowingly added to and how do I get off it?

“Um, what? You want me to give Grams a bath?” I asked.

“Yes.” Responded Moneybags.

“Why do I need to give her a bath?” I questioned.

“Hahahahahaha!” Laughed Moneybags and Hats.

Sidenote: I’ve noticed this happens a lot. Instead of answering my questions people just laugh like it was a ridiculous question. What’s weird is that I usually feel like they’re pretty valid questions I’m asking. Case in point, one time Chief came up to me and said,

“Sally, they’re going to tear down the health center and build a road in its place.”

So then I asked, “Are they going to build a new health center?”

To which Chief replied “Hahahahahahaha!” and then walked away. I still don’t know if they’re going to build a new one after they tear down the old one.

Anyways, back to Grams. I wasn’t going to take the laugh as an answer.

“Wait! Why do I need to give Grams a bath?” I demanded.

“Because it is a sign of respect at the funeral we are giving her.” Hats replied.

Now I was really freaking out because it appeared they wanted me to bathe a 2 week old corpse.

“Ah! When did Grams die?” I asked.

“Huh? Grams didn’t die.” Said Moneybags.

“……Then why are we having a funeral?” I swear, sometimes I really wonder about these people.

“We are having a funeral to give good luck and give Grams long life.” Stated Moneybags.

That seemed rather contrary to me. If I’m 80 and my kids give me a funeral I’m going to think something is up. It has got to be some bad juju to give someone a funeral before they die.

“So like, do I need to scrub her down in this bath?” I hesitantly asked.

“No. You just need to dump water over her head.” Replied Hats.

“Okay I can do that.” I decided.

“Also, can you give Grams $500 after you bath her?” Asked Moneybags.

“Hahahahahahaha!” Was my reply as I walked away.

So I went to the funeral, gave Grams a bath, and ate some pretty gross food. I ended up giving Grams $10 because it was the polite thing to do. Over 2,000 people attended the “funeral” and each person gave around $10. You do the math. Apparently, early funerals are where it’s at. Grams banked.

Okay, so I’ve been getting a lot of pressure lately to update my blog. I know it’s been awhile, but I live in a Cambodian Village for crying out loud. Life here can be verrrry slow and uneventful at times. I spend most of my time sitting and staring. The other day I helped a woman feed her cows and it was the most eventful task of my week. Now, I don’t want you to think it’s a bad thing if I suddenly wake up to find spider webs all over me because I resembled a mummy for an hour. It’s just me embracing the Cambodian lifestyle is all. I am integrating into my community. Don’t believe me? Let me make my case.

Example #1: Every morning Moneybags leaves the house around 7 to go and sit at a local café for an hour and drink coffee. Then, after he finishes his coffee he moves on to the market where he sits and watches people sell things until about 10. After he feels he has watched enough of the market to warrant his title as “Head of the Market” he then heads home to nap from about 10-11:30. Around 11:30 I come home and we all eat lunch together. At 12 he goes back to sleep until 5. The only thing that will get him up is if somebody brings beer or men show up at our house with guns. Moneybags is down for the night at 7.

Example #2: Every morning Hats leaves the house with Moneybags and gets dropped off at the market. Hats sits at Supermom’s store yelling at people from about 7-9:30. At 9:30 she goes to buy food for the day. She then returns to the house with Moneybags at 10 where she lays in a hammock until I come home around 11:30. At 12 she goes to her sister’s house to gamble until about 6. Between gambling games they usually take breaks for naps. Hats is in bed around 8.

Example #3: Supermom, Feisty, and Muscles all head to their store in the market at who knows what time, but I know they are for sure gone at 7. When I show up to the store at 10:30 they are asleep at the store. When I head back around 12 they are asleep at the store. When I show up again at 2 they are still asleep at their store. Finally I walk back by around 4 and they’re just waking up so they can close the store and go back home where they will take a nap after a grueling workday in the market.

So you see? Integration! I’m actually a little overactive for the Cambodian lifestyle considering I go to and from the market multiple times a day. I also don’t sleep 75% of my day away so that’s something I probably need to work on too. Don’t worry though; I’ll get there!

Also, Moneybags tires were never slashed much to my chagrin. However, the car alarm no longer goes off either.

So the other day Moneybags came home with a new car. For a while I was confused as to who owned the car because Hats kept calling it a taxi so I assumed some taxi driver had left his car at our house. However, after this simple conversation I came to realize the car belonged to the family.

“How long is that car going to live at our house?” I asked Hats.

“For many years and you don’t have to pay to ride in it.” Hats replied.

Well that cleared things up for me. Moneybags now owns a car and he wants to make sure everyone knows it through his not so subtle displays of ownership.

At random points during the day the car alarm will suddenly go off and Moneybags will excuse himself, “Sorry, sorry, that’s my car.” No duh it’s your car the alarm goes off like every five minutes. Either something’s wrong with the wiring or you keep pushing the panic button. I’m thinking it’s the latter.

Also, he now insists on driving me everywhere, which would be nice if it wasn’t so annoying. “What’s that, Sally? You want to go 100 feet down the road? No problem! Hop in my car and I’ll take you.” Sheesh, Moneybags, you’re embarrassing me. Way to make me appear like a spoiled, rich foreigner.

But, the thing that irks me the most is that I must listen to Moneybags lecture about how unique and impressive his new car is all day long. “I bet you don’t have cars like this in America. It has leather seats, a car alarm, and air conditioning. It’s so pretty.” Dude, it’s a Camry. It’s the most common car in Cambodia and the power windows are broken. Please spare me this repeated conversation.

Fortunately, I imagine Moneybags’ days of glory are about to come to an end. I can sense the neighbors’ exasperation with the car alarm and I wouldn’t be surprised if his tires were slashed by next week. Oh how the mighty can fall.

At the health center we have a relatively new computer, which is supposed to be used to track patient records and monitor the budget. Problems with this latest initiative by the ministry of health…

1. The computer is entirely in English so the staff member hired to use it takes a 20 hour course on how to use the computer and learn English. This is not sufficient time for mastering either.

2. Only one person on our staff can read English well enough to turn the computer on let alone use the computer.

3. They turn it off by unplugging it from the wall.

At our Health Center Engrish is in charge of this magical box and all the crazy things you’re supposed to do with it. So the other day he came up to me and said,

“Sally, the computer hides the patient records. Can you find them for me?”

“I can try.” I hesitantly replied.

I am not the best with computers, but it couldn’t hurt to look. So I went onto the computer and searched for his saved information and there was nothing. NOTHING!

“Can you show me how you how you go about saving a record?” I asked.

“Sure!” He takes me through the steps and at the end when he’s given the option between “Save” or “Don’t Save” he clicks on “Don’t Save” without pausing.

“Whoa, whoa! I found your problem.” I said. “You need to be clicking “Save”.”

Engrish looked at me like I was an idiot for a few seconds and then slowly said “No that is not it. You are wrong.”

“No I am telling you I am 100% sure that you need to click “Save”. I would bet my life on this.” I told him.

He then grabbed his notebook, flipped through his notes, and then showed me the part where he learned in his class that you are supposed to click “Don’t Save”.

“See? You are wrong. The class I took said this so it must be something else.” He said.

I was dumbfounded for a few seconds, but then realized there was no way I was going to change his mind on this.

“Oh then I don’t know what’s wrong.” I replied and then went to watch t.v.

To this day, the staff still can’t figure out where all the patient information mysteriously disappears to. I, however, feel a little smug because I know exactly where it is going. Point for me.

So the other day I went out with some of the Health Center staff to do some outreach thing. Not a whole lot of people attended the event so for the most part I sat around doing nothing. While I was sitting there a man with a baby approached me and asked, “Do you love my child?”

“Um… yes.” I replied because it seemed rude to say otherwise.

“Will you hold my baby?” He then asked.

“…Sure.” I said as he handed the child over to me.

Once the child was firmly in my arms he took off. Not a “Oh I need to go get something” or “I’ll be right back” kind of take off, but a “I need to get out of dodge” take off.

This is my biggest fear in Cambodia. People sometimes offer me their children because they think I am rich and can give their child a better life, but of course I refuse. I can’t raise a child on a volunteer’s salary! Still, I’m always afraid one day somebody is going to trick me into taking a child.

So here I am with this child in my arms and all I can think is “I’ve been tricked! Now I have to raise it! I’m going to have to ask my parents for money!” After sitting there for about a minute a woman walks around the corner and sees me with the baby and she comes running up.

“Where did you find that baby?!?” She shouted.

“A man gave him to me… Do you want it?” I replied.

“Yes!”

She then took the child and left. Don’t judge me. There’s a really good chance that it was either the child’s mother of a friend of the family. It’s a Cambodia village. There’s no way that child wouldn’t make it back home.

Still, I can’t help but wonder. Who was that man? Who was that child? Who was that woman? Will they live happily ever after? I don’t know, I just don’t know.

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