Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day to Day Volunteer Life


The view from the roof when I'm doing my laundry


Is it really possible I have only been here for a week? (That's an in-country week, not starting from when I actually left my home 10 days ago.) I cannot even fathom that. It feels like a lifetime since I left, like everything should have changed. Today I got a good look in the mirror for the first time since arriving here and noticed my hair is getting much blonder from the sun, and my usual “summer” freckles are loud and pronounced. Even the little freckle under my chin that only comes out with my deepest tans and sunburns is visible. I haven't seen that little guy in years.
Life here has taken on a routine and a good familiarity. I'm comfortable and feel like I know what I am doing. I'm ready to stop feeling like even the most mundane task (ahem- laundry) is an adventure. I'm comfortable talking to moto and tuk-tuk drivers, and giving instructions around the city. I know where the preferred expat stores are located.
In other words, I feel like I live here now.
I thought it was about time to share the day to day life and schedule we experience here.

6 am- Wake up to an unforgiving sun, and the noises on the street.
6:30- the alarm clock tells me to pull the pillow off my face and get out of bed
7:15- walk down to the corner shop, “Drink Mart” and pick up something for breakfast. Today it was “jackfruit yogurt.” (It wasn't bad.) Sometimes it is potato chips. What can I say? We're pretty limited down there.
7:45- our drivers all start to arrive to chaperone us all off to our various parts of the city.
8- work!
9 – complain about the heat to anyone online on the other side of the world
11:30- take the tuk-tuk back to the apartment house for lunch and siesta. Funny fact- everyone I have met either calls it siesta or nap time. No one seems to know what the Khmer word for it is.
12- house mum serves us lunch. I'm pretty sure she is trying to kill me with the three different types of green vegetables she serves with every meal. 
12:30- NAP!
1:30- walk down to Drink Mart for a cold Coke, Fanta, or Sprite. ANYTHING as long as it is cold. (Sadly, they do not have Coca Light.)
1:45- ride back to work
2- work
3- get online and complain about the heat again
4- the little kids get out of school next door and start sneaking into my room to look at me. Tomorrow I'm taking a bag of candy to give them. I'm pretty sure this will have the exact opposite effect I am hoping for and we'll have a forced tradition on our hands.
5- the tuk-tuk comes back for me. Try not to doze off in traffic. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't.
5:30- Home! Oh my blessed air conditioned room! Crash on the bed for a few minutes until I convince myself that a shower would solve all of my problems. Possibly look in the mirror for the first time. Realize I managed to go a whole day without brushing my hair.
6- Shower. It took me way too long to figure out that the water source is on the roof, and gets heated by the sun all day. Water in the morning= FREEZING. Water in the evening- lukewarm and just perfect.
6:30- Continue to sit on my bed exhausted, wondering why I can't go to dinner naked.
7- Dinner with my housemate, and the girls from a different building. We usually chat about what we did at work. The Aussies discuss the various plans they have for getting drunk. Curse the green vegetables and rice. Do you have any idea what this does to your bowels?
8- Our evening activities vary. Usually the girls from the various apartments get together to relax and do something. We may go for a walk (back to Drink Mart- we're big fans, can you tell?), watch bootlegged DVDs, or find a tuk-tuk and go to a store. Some nights I end up back in my room working. I find that I get a ton more work done in the quiet, air-conditioned solace of my room than I do in the oppressively hot, loud, noisy, and craziness of my office. I'm only here for one month, and I have a ton to do. And I really want to get everything done for them and I want to do a good job.
9:30- Crash land in my room. Take a few minutes for personal writing, blogging, reading, praying, etc.
10- Put the ear plugs in and sleep. On the nights I just can't fall asleep I watch some downloaded iTunes TV eps.
6 am comes very early.  

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