30.01.2013 - 30.01.2013
Actually this is the all night session, my usual the day before I travel by plane. There was much to do. I tried to pay my hotel bill, but found that Visa in all their wisdom had declined my card perhaps because the card was being used outside of Canada. (Like, I don’t travel to weird places several times each year!) Into town to try out the instant tellers and 2 other cards: No luck! I finally managed to contact my very dear husband on Skype. “Here’s my card number, expiry and the pin! Go ahead and use it! …..and put on some extra cash for traveling – your card may still not work tomorrow!” No wonder my sister was overheard, sobbing that she had married the wrong man.
My inefficiency with this blog and a not-so-good internet connection chews up a lot of time. I wanted to catch up, and finish posting pictures and captions. Oh, and there were the ‘farm day’ pictures I had to find for printing; packing everything back into one piece of hand-luggage, and so on. The night flew by, and I even caught a nap for an hour. Morning came, and a busy day began.
My kindergarten class is ‘sticker-mad.’ Valerie, a new volunteer, helped me get the class started. I had brought my orange ACODO T-shirt, “blocked off” in masking tape. In turn, each child chose a block and with a marker wrote their phonetic name in “English” letters, and underneath, their name in Khmer script. Of course, some added butterflies, hearts and angry birds! All done. Then we did a little bit of schoolwork: “Please, teacha’, two stickers! When they remembered that this was my last day, I received many, many great hugs. “Will you come back next year, teacha’?” That is certainly my plan.
My next 2 classes were pretty much the same: wonderful. We did some lessons, and I asked each student to sign my T-shirt: The phonetic equivalent of their real name in Latin script (as we use in English), and their name in Khmer script. Some of the kids embellished with Angry Birds, with hearts and with butterflies!.
Then I had that short 4 hours to do the critical jobs. Back to the hotel The white square on the beautiful backdrop of the performance stage listed, in Khmer script, each day of the week, the dances to be done, the musical instruments to be used, and other lines of information: 5 columns and 15 lines. It is an ugly white square that looks out of place when visitors photograph the dance performances. I had sworn to myself that I would rewrite it on heavy grey paper I had bought. Armed with a ruler, a black pen and a clear photograph of the “letters’ I set to work.
2 hours later: fait accompli! I finished packing. Everything fit in, almost. My nearly new Canadian sneakers would be good on some Cambodian feet. Next job: I had promised a number of the girls that I would print pictures of our day on the farm when they had planted 100 mango saplings. I was told of a Fuji Film shop, so I headed out. It was a professional place, and a young man obliged, checking my SD card to confirm how many of each. Basically however many people were in each picture. 40 minutes later, I raced back to the hotel. Khamera had discovered my penmanship, and it was making the rounds amid oooohs and aaaaahs , compliments and surprise. They didn’t know I could write Khmer. I said my very fond goodbyes to many of the staff. (Khemera: “Susan, you make me cry.”)
I’m late for my small class. Poerng, Hong Hav and Chunny helped me with removing the white square and tacking up the oblique shaped grey paper- the shape of the stone steps of the mural. It blends well into the backdrop, and the instructions are clear. Next, the photos. I have some beautiful shots of Chunny and she was very happy with them. The buzzer sounded and I stepped into my last class. Lending library books were changed, and the students were happy to read, I managed to sit with Rasy. He confessed that the reason he often skipped his class was to sleep. I teased him for laziness. Then I sat with him to go over the sounds of the ABCs and sounding out English words. I told him that next year I will come to his dormitory and bring him to every class. There was time for giving out the tree planting pictures, and for fond hugs and goodbyes.
Then it was time to leave. Seeing me off right to the gate. Sovy is bringing me to the airport by tuc-tuc, and Bunleing is coming along to keep me company. I am really going to miss all these wonderful people. My last memories of ACODO are of looking out of the back of the ACODO tuc-tuc waving to a more than a dozen waving, smiling children. Being a tourist was never like this!
My wonderful trip to Cambodia behind me, I became slave to the line-ups and rude officials. One told me in a cross voice to: “GO. Fill in information (exit visa.) My reply was: “Do you mean PLEASE, fill in the exit visa?” He said he had no time for that. I said I had no time for rude men. When I cued again and he motioned me forward, I shook my head, turned and went to the other official. (Ha, Ha – no security police this time, I thought smugly!)
Airports are great: People in line-ups love to talk. I met some students from China. I met a man from Korea. I slept with a lovely man from France, Benoit. He had been in Shanghai. He had spent a month involved with a winery. We enjoyed dinner, watched movies, talked most of the night and slept and then enjoyed breakfast together. He has a winery in France, as do his parents. He said that he had visited Laos and Thailand, and that he planned to visit Cambodia. I told him of my experiences there, and info about my lovely orphanage. He was kind enough to give me his email address, and said that I would be very welcome to visit his winery. We agreed that traveling to capital cities misses the point. I was sad to part company when our 12 hour flight from Guangou in China finally landed in Paris. Oh, what a night!