Sorry (once again . . . ) for the delay in writing, but things have been effing (sorry Grandma White Bear, Ron Tom, and all the other respectable persons I'm constantly forgetting are reading this) crazy around here! Fortunately, that does provide me with some tasty stories upon which to update you all. Prepare to be updated upon!
Some welcome obstacles to the regularity of my online communication were a few wonderful guests who popped into FLO for a week. Four incredibly lovely young ladies from the UK & US came to volunteer and hang about with the kids, and I had a blast hanging about with them as well. I believe they would all be obliged to vouch that I talked their ears apart without ceasing ~ but I couldn't help myself! They were the first native English~speakers with whom I'd conversed face to face in over a month! We probably all know I'm ever willing to converse with anybody, but the kids just don't play the preferred amount of attention to all that clever wordplay I'm always employing. Thanks, ladies, for putting up with well over your fair earfuls. Your company was so appreciated!
Near the end of the week the ladies were staying, still more exciting visitors made their way to FLO: a few foster parents, a few visitors along with them ~ one of whom just became a foster parent! ~ and my own foster parent: my auntie! Look at that, foster parents of all sorts. I had a blast touring my auntie around a bit. We gallivanted off with a couple of kids and families to Kirirom, a national park in between what I believe are the Cardamoms and the Camelback mountains, although I might be completely wrong. Tim, I think you're the only cartographer who's reading this. Someone tell me if I'm wrong on this one; I lack the internet capacity to check up on my own geographical statements.
The auntie and I also took a lovely trip up to Siem Reap so she could check one more wonder of the world off of her "to see" list. Meandering among the temples of Angkor, we were lucky to run into half the quartet of rad ladies who'd visited FLO the previous week. We ate touristy foods, stayed at a touristy hotel, got the whole tourist experience!
Upon our return to FLO and Phnom Penh, we meandered into the city for a couple days to take in the must~sees of PP. Rather than scheduling a sad day in Phnom Penh and a happy day in Phnom Penh like I did for myself, with my auntie and I split up the sobering and rather painful stops with more fun, exciting, interesting places to see like the Royal Palace and the National Museum. My second viewing of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (the former S21 Khmer Rouge prison) was not so . . . just hard as my first, but that will never be an easy place to visit. It's just too enormously tragic.
I kept my auntie captive around FLO for a few more days before allowing her to return to the US. She's been gone about a week now, and things have just continued to be nuts around here. Like they will. Most of the kids went to their homelands this week to celebrate Khmer New Year with their families. KNY is the biggest holiday of the year: basically the cities shut down completely and the entire populace makes their way to the countryside to celebrate. Whole villages gather at pagodas, where the festivities only begin with offerings to monks for good luck in the new year. (It's the year of the tiger. Brace yourselves, everybody) As the day wears on, there will be lots of music, dancing and traditional games. Traditional game~playing is one of the only venues in which it's acceptable for Khmer teenagers to flirt, so the whole social scenario should be rife with potential for entertainment . . . and, dare I suggest, romance?
In fact, just to practice for KNY, we had quite the shindig here at FLO on Saturday. A whole afternoonful of traditional games followed by a lovely dinner and a dance party that rivals any other I've ever attended. If you're lucky, my Next blag post will involve some snappy KNY photos or all sorts.
Happy Khmer New Year everybody!