Year two is well underway and the photos I take are starting to look familiar. An attempt to illustrate some highlights of the last few months…
1. A fellow PCV and I played the parts of two legendary characters, “Nang Ai” and “Padaeng,” in a rain parade. Nang Ai and Padaeng are sort of lovers. (I didn’t quite grasp the story). It took the better part of a day to transform the farangs into traditional Thai beauties (Sorry Bobby, you’re wearing lipstick). A very sweet woman came up to me while I was being dressed and asked if I’d ever played the part of this particular character before. She warned me that I would have to smile and wave for a very long time.
2. A cat family adopted me. I knew there was a litter of kittens living in the storage space next to my house. One day I got up and opened my wardrobe to find that mama cat, (“Whiner”) had relocated the family. I’d tried to keep my catladyhood somewhat secret before the kittens showed up, but come on. Look at these little guys. Meet Cantaloupe, Peanut Butter, Princess, and Jeremy…
3. Adobe houses. The same PCV wearing lipstick and riding the paper mache horse in part 1 of this post did an adobe house-building project at his site. I spent a few hours making bricks one day. (Mud is heavy!!) The bricks are made of mud, sand, and rice husks. They’re left to dry in the sun for a while, and then stacked, with more mud, to create the walls of the house. The roofs of the houses were woven by someone in the community.
This project was chosen to be highlighted during the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps Thailand celebrations. That meant that the Peace Corps country director and the U.S. ambassador to Thailand came for a visit. All kinds of community members came out to welcome these special guests. Every farang was presented with a “pakaoma” (Tied around our waists in the fourth and fifth pictures, below. In real life, pakaomas are used as bathrobes, headcoverings, picnic blankets, you name it…).
4. My third semester, primary school. In some ways, it feels like I’ve been here forever.
Those white outfits all the students are wearing in some pictures are “Monk/Buddha Day” outfits. Every Wednesday the students put on their white suits and meditate and/or chant for an hour. In theory it’s not a bad idea, but the student and teacher behavior is … well… lacking.
The second picture down is from teacher honoring day.
The principal of my primary school decided we should have English classes for the teachers on Thursday afternoons. The sessions are usually canceled, but when they do actually happen they’ve been really good.
The “good” kids went to an English Camp last month. Carting students around in the backs of pick up trucks is normal. As you can tell from the students’ faces, English Camp was a harrowing experience.
5. My third semester, secondary school. When I’m there, the kids go to English class. But when I’m not there, they don’t (they have English teachers other than me). In a way this is kind of awesome, because it shows that the teachers are the problem, not the students… but it’s also disheartening. The minute I leave things will go to … let’s say mud.
The students can do what they want with the walls in their rooms (on their own dime). Teaching in that pink rooms is a bit overwhelming.
6. The main rice planting season. The women in the first picture are actually pulling up the small rice plants to be replanted. If you squint a little, you can see that the people in the second picture are replanting the rice plants in even rows.
7. Random pictures I like.