Firsts and Lasts

After two long years in the Peace Corps, my service has come to a close. Two years served, hours spent in a hammock, 100 books digested, hundreds of students taught, thousands of connections made, and what seems like millions of photos taken, and here I am, a 23 year old RPCV ready to continue work in another capacity. I feel like I’ve done many different things in my service. I wrote some books for others to use, put on 4 girls’ camps, taught in a rural school, learned a language, figured out how to sew and bake, and hopefully changed myself into a more culturally sensitive human/woman/American. It is difficult to see the change that I’ve supposedly brought to the village in which I lived. I see much more change within myself, in the person that I’ve become. I feel more confident, more able to manage myself in the world in which I live. But enough about this...

I’ve chosen to not leave Cambodia. Of the group in which I came, I am one of 5 who have chosen to stay on for at least one more year. While this country and the time difference between here and my own home country seem to offer endless frustration, I have also fallen in love with the people. I’ve also gotten a job at an organization that I have unlimited respect for. In fact, I’ve just finished my first week there as an odd admin. I will be implementing the new library system, giving bar codes and ID tags to students and books and magnifying glasses. I will work on PR, updating the website and writing some newsletter items. I will also do several other sorts of things as needed. They haven’t come up yet, but we will see. I’m absolutely thrilled at this opportunity. Absolutely thrilled.

Beyond the job, I’ve also moved. I am now the proud renter of a humble little Khmer apartment in some semblance of the typical style. Wood floors, spacious rooms... and everything I need to be happy. And really, as it is my first every own apartment, I felt as if I should do a series of firsts of the place.

It was, after all, the first place I saw when I started my search. That has to mean something, right?

First thing that sold me on the place: the bathtub. And tied: The landlady.
First thing I brought upstairs: The orange backpack that I brought with me to Peace Corps.
First thing in my fridge: One bottle of rose wine and one bottle of vodka.
First visitor: Fellow K2 Tyler.
First pillows: Awful. Second pillows: From hotel supply store.
First purchase for the place: Shelves for the kitchen and bathroom.
First problem: Ants in the honey. Ants in the bathtub. Ants in the bedroom. Ants all over.
First call to the landlady: Please make the kitchen sink turn on!
First use of the oven/stove: Foccaccia bread and sauce.
First funny: Well, I moved into a fairly commercial area, which means that there is a restaurant next door, a hotel across the street, various shops and schools nearby and a business next door. The place next door has a very pretty and colorful sign with a butterfly on it, noting that it is a spa. So, one day, I walked out of my house with some time to spare to run some errands and I decided to pop in and have a quick look at the spa menu, thinking how fortunate it would be if there was a cheap massage place just next door. So, I walk in to a lovely garden full of flowers, see lots of young guys in pseudo-uniforms around, and enter the office to ask for the menu. The boys quickly come into the office and, thinking nothing of a lot of people working somewhere and getting excited when someone comes in. But then, I hear one of the boys say in Khmer, “go inside for her to look,” and I slowly turn around, to find nothing else than all of the boys standing behind a glass window with a bright fluorescent light on. It is at this moment that I realize that I am in the wrong place. It is equally this time when the boys realize that I realize that I am in the wrong place. They giggle. I giggle. And I walk out as briskly as I politely can, now knowing that I live not next to a nice spa, but next to a gay men’s brothel disguised as one.

And that's what I've got so far... More updates about the firsts in my life to come....


Anonymous said...
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Me said...

I love it :) I'm so glad you are enjoying life so much, and I cannot WAIT to see you at Christmastime. You have grown up to be such a wonderful person (not that you weren't when you were a kid!) and I feel so lucky to have you (and your mom!) in my life! Miss you tons!

Your adopted sis,

The Tester said...

Missing your updates Kel... Hope all is ok with you... Hope the new year brings the best for you as well...

Snow & Tester...