Who knew? Well I suppose if I were being completely honest, I'd have to admit that I had a sneaking suspicion that this was the best possible way to celebrate Valentine's Day. To top it off, I was also notified that the day (particularly my attendance at Vanni's wedding) marks the day I became a Cambodian. Big news, yeah?
The whole affair was somehow both very formal and rather relaxed, quite traditional while intermittently improvisational. When we arrived(we being Donna, an email foster mom presently visiting her daughter; Chantha, said daughter; Touch, who would soon step up to the considerable task of teaching me to dance; Masa, my fashion consultant and resident photographer; Srey Mom, exuberant attendee; Papa Soeurn, deputy director of FLO; and of course our handsome driver), the celebration was already well underway. Entertainers were telling jokes to the wedding party and a crowd of guests, including a mob of jubilant ragtag younguns. Naturally the comedians couldn't resist including the newly arrived foreigners in their skit, and if I'm not mistaken both Donna and I were proposed to. Buuuut I could be mistaken. As any of my students(/teachers) can vouch, my Khmer's a little shaky. (Actually, the adorable truth is that none of them would say that. My Khmer is atrocious, but as long as I'm willing to toss up a word or phrase here or there I'm told that I speak Khmer very well all the time. LOVE them!)
It was after the traditional hair-cutting ceremony that most of the FLO kids who were in attendance showed up ~ and wow, do those boys Bring the party. About a half dozen of the older boys from FLO were esteemed wedding guests, and they were just a barrel of trouble and fun. We sat down at a couple tables ('Why can't we all sit at the same table?' I wondered to myself until I saw the lovely bridesmaids join the young gentlemen and all became clear.) to dine (on lemongrass stuffed grilled fish! - My SE Asian Favorite! - and more!) and down a few (mediocre) lagers before the dancing began. And oh dear. I'll let a couple photos tell the remainder of that story.
Anyway the wedding was beyond grand and Vanni was beyond beautiful. She was breathtaking. I had an utter blast and I'm so glad I was invited and able to attend! Congratulations and thank you Vanni and husband whose name I can't spell!
After a brief stop at Mt Oudong, we returned to FLO to hand out Valentines. February 14th happens to be "Auntie Donna's" birthday, and she had the brilliance to celebrate it by giving little gifts to the kids. They were delighted, and it's always fun to monkey around with them at the end of the weekend. They are all so busy with school and other classes most of the time; weekends are just priceless. (Remember the love from before? It's continuing!)
In order to top off my weekend of affection and certain romance, here's one more lovin' highlight: I walked into my writing class today to find my two (best, of course) students waiting for me with bunches of coconut flowers! Thank you boys, you jokers.
Need I repeat that these kids are the best?