visa run!

Just a quick note to say that we are leaving in a few hours to begin our journey to fly out of the country. We have to, for Visa reasons, but we will be back the first half of July. I have to make this short because we are a bit rushed. Apparently the South Asian culture is getting to me. Not only did I not make my color coded packing list that I always look forward to creating, but we just started packing last night/this morning. And this is almost a 2 week trip! So I need to finish up, and spend some QT with Chini. She's going to be staying in the country and I don't want her to forget us. We are so excited! When I'm back on here, I'll be rested, refreshed, and full of beef.


mister car wash

We just got back from another trip to Ctown. While there, our friend Kyle was driving us around, and he was pulled over. Kyle told us that was the 6th time in 4 days he had been pulled over. Talk about racial profiling! Well the policeman pulled us over to tell Kyle that he needed to wash his car.

The next day we went to a car wash in a gas station. It was exactly like they are in the states - behind the shop with a little area that you drive into - except that there was nothing mechanical. It was a bunch of men that washed the car. The car in front of us got the deluxe wash, meaning the inside of the car was washed. And when I say washed, I mean fire-hosed down. They took out the seats of the car and just hosed the interior. Needless to say, we opted out of the deluxe wash.



We just got back from going on another village trip today. It was much more successful than the last time. About the only info we came away with our last trip was that that particular village does not like Western women. As a lot of the towns around here are, it is a tourist town, and about the only women who would smile, much less talk to me, were tourists from the now sweltering capital. But today we went to a larger town south of us, and had a much better time. We first ate lunch in a local open air cafe (wow...that makes it sound a lot nicer than they typically are. Let's just say, while sitting there, I saw two roaches crawling on the walls) Since there's usually only a few places to sit in there, a man came and sat at our table with us, and husband struck up a conversation with him. He sat and lunched with us, and we made plans to meet up with him at his home next week when we return. This man even paid our bill for us when he left. Almost immediately two other men joined our table, and turns out, one man is Priya's first cousin. So he gave us his business card, and we left so others could sit. We finished off our trip by money walking, and left much more encouraged. At the moment, the MTs are in the village we went to last week, and hopefully since no women are with them, they are having better luck.

Also, a random thing happened. We stopped in a pharmacy on our money walking, and I looked on the shelf and saw husband's cologne! What are the chances? In the states, this cologne was tres expensive, as normal there, but at this obscure pharmacy, it was only $6! Ha! What a country.


water, water everywhere

The way we get water in our house is quite different than the wonderful automatic pipes in the states. We have a 1,000 Liter tank right outside our house, and we have another 1,000 Liter tank on our roof. Everyday, the city pumps water into our tank on the ground until it is full, unless of course there is a drought, then we may go a day or two without getting new water. Then, we have to flip a switch next to the ground tank for it to electronically pump water up to the tank on our roof. If the water is not on the tank on the roof, we have no water in our house, because the water follows gravity and flows downward through our pipes in the house.

We seem to have a lot of issues with water. Over Thanksgiving, the pump broke, and we weren't able to lift water to our roof and into our housepipes. Also, our neighbors, who we share water with, will sometimes lift water, but forget to turn it off, and the water overflows on the roof over the house, and comes through our windows. Once, the pump burned up, and we weren't able to lift water for several days. Also, sometimes the monkeys will take the cap off a faucet we have on the roof for the washing machine, and all the water in the roof's tank will spill onto our terrace until we have no water left. For most of these situations, we've come up with solutions or at least come to expect them. But something happened the other day that not only do we not know how to fix it, we don't even know what caused it.

Somehow, the tank downstairs began to lift the water by itself, and the tank on the roof overflowed. Husband ran to figure out what was going on, and tried to turn off the water, to no avail. He climbed on the roof, and saw that none of the pipes had a leak. He went downstairs and saw that the pump wasn't even on. Somehow, though, water was lifting. He asked me to turn off the water flow on each pipe, so I ran around the house turning off each pipe. In the process of turning off one of the toilets, I accidentally turned on the bidet instead and got splashed in the face. Not one of my cleanest moments. But eventually we got the water to stop lifting and running over. I've become very water-conscious since moving here and it's hard to see all that water go to waste, and also know that as Westerners, the people judge us as being wasteful, and I don't want to prove them right.

Just one of the ways we see how the system in America is more developed!


what the heck

We've had a very interesting couple of weeks! We left for the capital almost 2 weeks ago because the team leaders of our 6 week summer students had arrived, and we did some orientation for them. Then, we all headed off to a city that has not much more than one of the 7 wonders of the world, but that's definitely enough for me to go visit. All of the students arrived by this time, so we did some more orientation, and then headed back home, this time with our 2 students in tow. We'll call them MTs, short for Mountain Trailblazers. and my shift key just broke, and i'm too lazy to start learning to use the one on the right now, so the rest of this post will be all lower case letters until husband fixes it. :) anyway, two days ago, the day we made the journey back up the mountain, would win the prize for the most interesting of those days. here's why.

we took the train from the capital to ctown, 4 hours south of us. then our great friend, kyle, drove us to the bus station for us to catch a bus back up. upon dropping us off, he was nearly fined, mainly because he's white, but fortunately came out unscathed. then we waited on husband to get the hill sickness pills before buying the tickets. he arrived about 4 minutes before the bus pulled out, so we bought our tickets for this bus. now, normally, we take the deluxe bus, which means it's about $4 instead of $1.75, and has a/c and your own seat, and room under the bus for luggage. but the timing was off, so we decided what the heck, let's just take the regular bus. as it turns out, what the heck is not the best reasoning tool. but it did lead to a busride we'll never forget.

first, there was no room on the bus for our small suitcase and MT's big packs. so husband just climbed the ladder on the back of the bus to put the luggage on top with the help of several south asian men. in the meantime, i boarded the bus and saw to my chagrin that our seats were on the very back row, meaning we had less leg space than everyone else, and no overhead shelf. one of the hazards of purchasing a ticket about 4 minutes before departure time. another such hazard is that although south asia is not a time-driven society, somehow the transportation is very punctual, and the bus started to pull out before i noticed husband on the bus. luckily he was climbing on and not still on the roof, but that was enough to scare me. we made it, though, all 4 of us squeezed into the back row with 2 other men, and smaller backpacks with laptops and other too-valuable-for-the-roof items. i was squished next to the window, which was bringing in a small breeze that i was so thankful for. at one point, i noticed that the seats actually weren't joined, but separated, so i could see that each individual seat was about as wide as my shoulders. and i also noticed that the 4 us were pretty much squeezed into 3.5 seats that once again, were not big enough for the 3 western guys. but after what the heck is decided, there's not much you can do with your luggage strapped to the roof of the bus and the wheels in motion.

it didn't take long for sweat to become our constant companion, and one of our MTs looked at his thermometer and noted that it was 98 degrees. i started wondering how if our bodies are that temperature, why 98.6 degrees isn't the perfect weather tempterature. i mean, it's what our bodies are already used to. this is probably one of the many reasons why i didn't do too hot in science.

back to the bus ride. we began what has been dubbed the '4 hour s-curve' drive upward at speeds no old rambling bus should take. we're beginning to thank husband profusely for those hill sickness pills, but one of the MTs can't stop worrying about the luggage on the roof. then, after one particularly fast curve, we hear a noise and the MTs look back and see something black in the road. they yell 'stop!' and the driver reluctantly takes his foot off the gas. the 3 guys take off running, and i sat on the bus with the glares of several south asians on me. soon, we see the guys running back, empty handed, and there is a unanimous groan heard throughout the bus and the glares grow heavier. i laughed, because i do that when i'm nervous. husband raced up the ladder again to check the luggage, which happened to all be there, but they took that opportunity to re-secure the bags even tighter. a few moments later, we're rambling down the road again.

eventually, we made it back to our town, and miraculously, i was even able to sleep a bit on the ride. the boss's grace, i'm assuming. when we stopped, husband climbed up on the roof of the bus for the third time to retrieve our bags. before he was off the roof, the driver began to drive away, so i had to yell 'stop! no! there are men on top!' and the driver stopped and everyone laughed. husband made it off, and we made it back home, with everything but our dignity in tact.

if we didn't learn anything else from this trip, we did at least take away that the difference of $2.25 will buy you peace of mind, and that what the hecks should be avoided at all costs.