The cold shower has become my all-time best friend, the rooster: my enemy, and Citronella+Deet: my permanent fragrance.
This morning Ream took me on the back of a motorbike through the village to the local mountain where we climbed and climbed and visited a thousand-year-old temple and monk habitat. Apparently, white people are very rare in this neck of the woods and people were waving hello everywhere we passed. There were people breaking rocks at the base of the mountain that they sell to construction workers who pass by and one of the kids had a radio that was playing some broken up bad American music rapping the ever intellectual lyrics of "Pimpin' hoes, hunnies like the dollas, somethin about got the Cristal"... It was the most ironic scene.
The mountain is beautiful and the view is extraordinary. Ream pointed out significant sites, like the polluted sewage river where a lot of people live and die. The stories and village bios are really heart-breaking - the life expectancy age is 40 years old in this town and most people barely have enough to eat all year long. They drink and bathe in very dirty water and do not have access to good medical help. Cows are emaciated and sickly. The main farming is rice, but its culture is only available to them once a year during rainy season. Unfortunately there is no irrigation system and so they miss out on 75% of the potential production of their resources. For the price of a nice BMW, one could save the village by constructing an irrigation system. Anyone want to help raise funds?!!
We stopped at a few people's huts on the way home, seeking out weevers - girls will work on scarves or skirts for days and charge as little for it as a dollar or two. People live extremely poorly and dirtily. Beds are mostly made out of straw or wood, with no mattress. What's so fascinating however is how amazingly sweet and smiley the people are. Regardless of age or size, they are all incredibly nice and humble and it feels like you could run up and hug a stranger and they would hug you back. Most of them are totally uneducated and there are incredible amounts of orphans. Kit and Ream are very knowledgeable about the orphan situation here and the stories about the kids as well as the corruption is painful to think and talk about.
Here at the Greater Hope orphanage, the kids have it really good in comparison. They are well fed, well rested, well entertained and better educated. Kit and Ream are very passionate about the livelihood and happiness of their kids and their love for each and every one of them is contagious. I'm totally in love with the kids, they are the coolest little people I've ever met. I'm excited to get to stay an extra couple of days - we are all heading to Siem Reap on Monday instead of Saturday to visit Angkor Wat.
We spent the rest of the day playing with the art kits that Arterro donated and then did the first part of the photo shoot project - it was an utter BLAST. In my next entry, I'll upload some pics and talk more about the process. Right now, it's only 8pm and my eyes are shutting DOWN with the rest of my body. The last few days have been quite intense!