why monsoon season is no fun

I know, I know. I really shouldn't complain, because I could be in the capital right now, where it's monsoon season AND it's incredibly hot. We just have wet here. However, since our elevation is so high, we are literally in the clouds, and have been for about a month, and will be for about 2 more months. Couple that with no insulation and drafty windows, and you have a very wet house. Our sheets, towels, bedspread, clothes, everything, stay in a permanent wet state. We can fight this - a little - by turning on the heater in our room, but we still get into bed and within a few minutes are sticky from the moisture. I just took these pics, one on our terrace and one just outside the door. It wasn't raining at that moment, those are just the clouds.

Our clothes don't dry, either. These clothes have been hanging on the line since Monday morning. Today is Wednesday. They are still damp.

Yesterday I went to put on my leather sandals, which happen to be an expensive gift from generous friends in the States. As you can see, they are covered in mold. And they weren't even kept in a dark area, but in a room with a window!

But at least it's not hot. Capital (and plains area) folks, I don't know how you do it!


pre-emptive strike

The government in the country we live has banned blogs for now. So somehow I'm able to write blogs, but I can't read anyone's blogs. So I don't know if soon we won't be able to blog anymore, either. We have no clue when this ban will lift. This to say, just in case you don't hear from us for awhile, it's simply because we have lost our blogging privileges. :(

differences of hygiene

Swimming in South Asia opened our eyes to our bad hygiene in America. Who knew that sitting on the edge of the pool, dangling your feet in the water, was unhygienic?

One of our friends was doing just this, and was approached by a man and asked to remove his feet from the water. Now, if he wanted to put his entire body in the water (including the feet) that would have been perfectly clean.

Also, apparently a lot of South Asians don't own their own bathing suits, so when they go to water parks or swimming pools, they just rent their suit, or "costume" as they are called here.

I wish I had a pic of the costumes. The mens' is as little material as possible. Meaning, speedo or if we're lucky, boxer-brief type things. The womens', however, is the opposite. They include sleeves, knee length shorts, and a skirt. And that's usually still too little material for the women, who opt out of swimming for lounging poolside in their clothes in the stifling heat, or as I've seen a few times, they will swim in their saris or traditional suits.

I would have bet good money that it would have been renting a bathing suit that would be unhygienic, and dangling your feet in the water as perfectly normal. But that's just me.


medical day

After our time of debriefing with our students before they flew back to the States on Tuesday, we are now in the capital. We have spent today here as a medical day, since the quality of the medical facilities available in our city is, well, below average. (remember my story about the hospital?) But, here the culture is even more South Asian and less predictable than normal. I had called ahead about our immunizations we need to get for our vacation next month. The receptionist assured me that we didn't have to have an appointment, and yes, they did have both of the Hepatitis shots and the Yellow Fever shot. So we showed up last night to get our shots, and everyone seemed a bit confused about what to do with us. Finally, they decided that we had to go to the onsite pharmacy (called Chemists here) to get the vaccine. There was only one Yellow Fever vaccine, though, and unfortunately, that's not a two-for-one kind of thing. Husband laughed when I said, "But you said you had it," because, as he pointed out, they never told me they had 2. It didn't matter that the receptionist knew from the conversation that both my husband and I needed shots. Information is never volunteered here, unless of course it is unasked for advice.

So we went back today, and luckily, all shots were available and administered. Now we're waiting on the big welt that seems to follow the Yellow Fever vaccination. I told husband as we were getting our shots that maybe this is a different kind that doesn't have a reaction, and he whispered to me, "I just hope it's the American kind."

Next we went to the dentist and eye doctor; me to the former, husband to the latter. I didn't know what to expect, but it sure wasn't the pretty female dentist with the name of a famous Bollywood actress. I even said her name a few times because I was so proud of myself that I knew how to pronounce the 9 letter long name with 5 vowels in it. As I've long suspected, Bollywood makes you seem smarter. As she was cleaning my teeth, she seemed to be able to see everything in my past: "You brush too hard." "You have had braces." "You have all of your original teeth." etc. I wondered if she could see in there the embarrassing number of traffic tickets I've received. This dental experience was quite possible the easiest and least-painful time I've spent in a dentist's chair.

Husband's optical visit was easy too. He then went downstairs to make an appointment to see the dentist, but he had to make an appointment. He made it in person, and we walked back to the guest house to order a quick lunch. An hour later, the lunch still hadn't arrived, and husband had to leave empty-stomached to make his dentist appointment. He arrived and waited, and waited some more. But neither the receptionist nor the dentist was around, so he came back home. There's no point in complaining; we are positive this is normal, and we would get blank stares for our time.


visitors and lessons

Now that rainy season is here, we're starting to get quite a few new visitors to our home. This one came last night, and just for perspective, one of our MTs bravely put his hand next to the creature for the sake of posterity. This one is just one of the few we've had lately.Also, we have this little over hang in our living room, and it's hollow. For awhile we've had some kind of animal that likes to make noise in it. Our theories on this range from monkey to rats to flying foxes. (husband swears that he's seen them here) Well today, whatever this thing is, was going to town. I kept thinking any minute the plaster would break and this critter would fall into the living room, and both of us would freak out. Luckily it hasn't happened yet, but stay tuned.

Tonight we had a cooking lesson for our MTs. I taught them a couple of very simple dishes, along with rice and flatbread, so that they could cook them for their families when they get back in merely a week.They made me laugh with how much of perfectionists they were. The bread had to be perfectly round (except the last piece they did in the shape of our country), the onions had to be chopped just right, and the chicken had to be aligned perfectly in the dish. They were pretty proud of themselves afterwards!


just a few highlights from our recent trip

The view from our hotel room. To be fair, I deliberately didn't include in this picture the construction that was going on right outside our window. You would think I'd be pretty blase about mountains by now, but nope. I found these beautiful, too.
This a pic of the city I shot while cruising on a moped. Husband had the terrific idea to rent a moped for the entire week instead of having to take taxis and all that. It only cost us $20 to rent for the entire week! The city used to be completely surrounded by a moat. The moat is still there, but the city expands outside of it now.
This is just one of the many waterfalls there. Next time we go, I think we'll take a day to hike just to see all the waterfalls. I am not sure why this sentence is underlined, nor why the font won't turn blue...?

One night, our team had dinner on the Ping River.

Another night, we went with two other couples to a traditional dinner. It was really cool - they served us on trays and we lounged while we ate. We didn't know it before going, but it was all you can eat, and guess what they had - soul food! ;) We were so shocked when among other things, we were served fried chicken, pork rinds, and fried bananas! They also had a pork curry, sticky rice, fried cabbage, a chili sauce for the pork rinds, and soup.
After dinner, there was a performance of traditional dancers from different parts of the country. At first we were inside to catch such dances as the Fingernail Dance (we sure were relieved to find out those girls' nails were fake...they were several inches long!), they led us outside to watch more. This is the Rice Dance, where the girls put rice in their little baskets and swish it around. I liked them mainly for their cool hats.

There are many other highlights, such as our marriage seminars with Dr. Gary Chapman, the auction our group had for awesome American items, meeting and being taught by the new President of the SBC, and the 4th of July BBQ and celebration at the largest pool I've ever seen, but those all include pics of us and others, so I had to leave them out.


say what?

We're back! I can't believe how fast it all went. I've got lots to share, and pics will be on soon, but until then I want to write about something that makes me laugh everytime I think about it. The night before we flew out, we watched Memoirs of a Geisha (loved it!). However, somehow we ended up with a bootleg copy of it, something I realized as soon as I opened the case and saw that instead of an official DVD, there was just a normal silver DVD with "Geisha" written on the lines with a sharpie. Anyway, we didn't have the experience of being able to see people stand up in the movie theater like a lot of our friends have told us about, but we did have very entertaining subtitles. We had on the English subtitles because we thought at first it would be a Japanese film, but then we left them on because they were so funny...because of how erroneous they were! Here are just a fraction of the mistakes:

"the Orient" became "the oil land"

"the Chairman" became "the German" (and the Chairman is obviously Japanese) "these are the memoirs of an Empress" became "these are memories that are gonna impress"
...and our personal fave, "I've got a favor to ask you" became "I've got a famous truck"

Husband pointed out that a lot of our national friends have told us they learned English by watching movies. After watching this movie, their English mistakes make a lot more sense!