Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Dance Space

Yep, we made it all the way to the other side of the world where it's hot as in, holy crap how do these people live here ALL the time! The air is heavy with the occasional rain and it smells like SE Asia the minute you get off the plane.

I have been assaulted with the realities of the lack of personal space constraints that I remember from our time in Tokyo. The lack of "this is my dance space, this is your dance space" to coin a phrase from Dirty Dancing. It can be almost unbearable when combined with temperatures over 100 degrees.

We arrived in PP around noon along with the rest of our flight and a couple of others that came in at the same time. After completing no less than 7, yes 7 different disembarkation, customs, visa, and health forms we rushed en mass to the processing area. There we were confronted with a lot of pushing and shoving since the concept of forming a line of any sort seems to have been lost in the cultural translation. The goal was to push your way to the front of the crowd and attempt to garner the attention of the first Khmer Official who would grab your paperwork and passport and do this shrug-wave thing that was supposed to give you the hint that you were to move to the right directing you to join yet another seething mass over by the cashier. Eventually it became clear that you just had to look for the Khmer Official in that area who would just hold up your passport and wave it around indicating that you now needed to hand them your $20 visa fee and head over to passport control. Love the mess of it all!

Phnom Penh looks very different that the last time I was here in 2004. More large government buildings, more cars on the road and even a 12 story office building. In many respects it looks far more prosperous, but I fear it is just an illusion. There, in front of the new government building it was still easy to spot the women and children begging.

Our hotel is lovely. A respite in the middle of town. So far, we have taken the necessary cold shower that is supposed to keep us awake until we allow ourselves to collapse and try to sleep through the night. As for me, I have another Ambien in my future!

Tomorrow we will head out to the orphanage for our first visit to the new school. I am so excited to see it in person and to meet the director. We have loads of stuff to deliver - ALL the jeans that were donated (and might I say are damn heavy!) along with a slew of presents for the kids that we sponsor there and even a big bag of home-made lollipops from an old high school acquaintance (thanks Anisa).

I've corresponded with George the Elder via email and the home fires continue to burn. As luck would have it, George the Younger was off on his 7th grade camping trip for the better part of this week to do some rock climbing (and yes, unlike last year, I actually know where he is!). So, it's just Dad and Henry and Otto at home taking care of business. I am grateful to George the Elder for taking over my job so that I can make this trip with Cambodia Tomorrow. He's a keeper.

So, for now, that's that. My tea is brewing for a little dose of caffeine - but I had to reheat the water since I filled the first pot with water from the tap. Luckily, I caught myself and remembered that perhaps bottled water might be a better choice!

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