Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Honey, I'm Home...

In the foreground is my hand (my god, even hands get so OLD looking!) newly bound to my community of Thai Samakee, and in the background is my newly erected mosquito net since I am on the edge of a nasty little pond and the bugs in this place are on the ferocious and large side. It has been an exhausting day, and though we have been well aware of its arrival, the break up of our orientation group still came as a real hurdle. I was stuck in town, walking several miles to the market in search of an additional bag to lug the crap I have accumulated- teaching books and materials, a few clothes, some beginning food supplies-so I actually missed the departure of several of my favorite people. I have reached the point in my life where I really do like to say a proper goodbye and it felt crummy to send a text message. Plus all I got was sweaty and a crap assed little Nike bag for $6 whose zipper broke the very first time I went to close it. That is one thing here- much of the merchandise is so inferior that it hardly works at all. It is cheap crud from China they sell in poorer countries. Almost all the bikes here are that way. Just junk that falls apart and is poorly designed in the first place. Anyhoo. I get in the car with one of my wonderful bosses, Kittaya, and her husband, also a teacher, and we head off and I am suddenly in a world where no one speaks my language. The very best speakers can do some broken sentences, but truly I am like a mute. As a very verbal and extroverted person, it is quite a learning proposition to be so boxed in and limited. I know it will push me much more seriously to listen to Thai and begin to find more vocabulary of my own. It reminded me of when I was in France working in the kitchen with the three wacky ladies- where I finally learned to speak and hear French. Kittya dropped me off at my new house and LeuuDee, my other boss, met us there. We went over to Thai Samakee and I got to see my classroom there. It is just a corner of the library and the school itself is very, very basic. I am wondering how I am going to make materials for the class since there is only one printer in the school and the "copier" is just part of it- a home office level scanner. Then we went to get a few supplies like the mosquito net and some food. I am getting an extra 2000 baht  per month to buy my own food for cooking dinners and breakfasts- it is about $66. The breakfasts I am cool with since I don't think I can handle fish and rice for breakfast and they have things available like instant oatmeal. Dinners are going to be a little tougher. I guess I will have to learn to cook local, which I am fine with except when I go to the market I have no idea what the hell it is I am looking at... We returned to my house and Leudee and her husband left me to unpack. I just "pinballed" as Ms. Machieck calls it, around the house in a daze. I was already out of it since they threw us a huge kareoke dinner party last night and I stayed up too late and, well, I was singing Light my Fire and really shouting out the "FIRE" parts, confusing my BAC with channeling the spirit of Jim Morrison if that gives you the idea. I was fighting off the sinking feeling of freefalling isolation and being overwhelmed when back up Leudee pulls, begins taking apart my downstairs, sets up an outdoor kitchen and for the next three hours I was wined and dined by an assortment of village inhabitants of Thai Samakee, including a motorcycle mechanic, an irrigation specialist  (at least that is what we settled on after several consultations with the paper and talking dictionaries), a rice field worker, the village elder, several teachers from the school, two neighbors, and apparently every local widow in the province. They put down mats on my floor and served an amazing meal.

That is Leudee serving and next to her is another PawAw from still another primary school. Before we started they did the whole string tying thing which is simply so beautiful and heartwarming and soulful that just telling you about it makes me tear up (I know Kotaro- no emotion. These dang Thais make it so hard!). I had to do a shot of Thai whiskey- a rot gut rice based affair- and I tried to eat a raw red pepper after seeing another guy maw on at least three without batting an eyelash. I made it through half and they were whooping with glee. Maybe I'll get there by the end of my stay.

 So the long and the longer of it was that instead of feeling like I had to fight off the impending doom countdown clock, I was very busy trying to make myself understood to an amazing gathering of highly mixed people. Not that anyone was a world traveler or went to Oxford or anything. It is just a little village and I will be working at a school whose yearly budget is surely less than the copy paper budget for my high school back home. But they made me feel highly valued and respected, and I already know that I am going to carry this night in my heart to the end. I will also carry the memory of the dogs that are endlessly fighting and barking outside my window, and the memory of this gargantuan fella who greeted me when I went to take a pee while the last photo was loading!

1 comment:

  1. Hey,send some photos of the outside of your dwelling as well as the neiborhood.

    Here's a thought; any chance you could round up a bunch of geckos and turn them loose in your place to do bug patrol? Better,quieter,more effective than a housecat.