Sunday, May 16, 2010

Back to work!

Aw man, I just wrote a nice long post and apparently it didn't save...sigh...

We just got back from a weekend trip down the Mekong river. We spent the weekend on little sampan boats, visiting the different islands around My Tho (Unicorn Island, Tortoise Island) and kind of being shuttled between different tourist spots (!) but it was pretty fun. We spent the night in Can Tho, which is about 2 hours away from My Tho, and from there we took a boat out to the floating markets around there. As with all tours we got a hard sell in a lot of places, but it was still really nice to be out on the water. Our hotel in Can Tho was pretty luxurious (they actually air conditioned the lobby! But sadly not the hallways, nor the elevators.) and the spa on the 3rd floor was a bit... full-service. Some of us have been getting massages in the evenings because they're quite cheap, and they've been quite normal, but apparently at this spa there was some inappropriate touching and rubbing, and questions of "do you want massage the baby?" Prostitution seems to be quite the problem in Can Tho (and I'm sure other big cities), even our tourguide seemed to be hinting that he could make arrangements if so desired. Yuck. I've heard plenty about prostitution in Thailand, but it seems to be a problem here in Vietnam as well.

On Friday before the weekend, we had a great day. We spent half a day building (laying more bricks! My bricklaying partner, Beth, and I got a very satisfying "perfect!" from our construction supervisor.) Then we went to a local school. We had pre-arranged this visit, and so people had brought school supplies and small things that we divvied up into packages to give to the kids. We got a nice intro to the school from the principal and some community leaders, and then went into a classroom where there were about 30 kids from several grades. They were so cute! They sang a song for us, and then we sang a song (can you guess which one? Yes, the Hokey Pokey is getting quite some play on this trip) for them. Then we gave out the packages. To be honest, the kids looked a little scared! As it is rude to open gifts in front of the gift giver in many asian cultures, the teachers had told them not to open them. Of course, when we left, they were tearing into them and showing each other. So cute! That was nice, and the teachers seemed to appreciate us coming.

That night (Friday) we celebrated the 50th birthday of one of our teammates. Our fixer, Xuan, arranged for us to have a dance party upstairs in a building that looks like a boat. Or it might have been a real boat, not really sure). I think it must be used for weddings, because we had a DJ, gobo lights, and even a stage. It was pretty awesome.

Tomorrow we are back at the build sites. We build for 3 full days Monday-Wednesday, and then on Thursday we have a house dedication ceremony, where we hand over the keys to the family. One of our houses should be finished, but the other was a bigger project and will probably be finished by the next Habitat team. How satisfying will it be to hand over the keys! It will be really nice to know that I had a hand in providing a family with a better place to live.

If you're interested in a health update, here goes: things have been generally fine except I've had a nasty case of heat rash, ugh. I think I just have to be really careful about the kind of sunscreen I use, and staying out of the sun of course. Stomach stuff has been ok except for recently, so I started taking some cipro (the antibiotic recommended for such issues). Everyone on the trip has been having troubles on and off (we're careful about water, but you never know) so it's funny how open we are about it all. Funny, and gross. Otherwise, I'm a-ok!

Missing home a bit, and of course my husband, but having a really fulfilling, fun time out here. After this week it's on to the next leg of my trip up to Northern Vietnam - more on that to come!

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