So I know I haven’t posted in awhile. I think it’s been about 3 weeks now? Well the main reason is because my laptop decided to die on me and there’s no place in Quang Tri to fix it. I know, I know I could always borrow someone else’s laptop or type something on my phone but a combination of exhaustion from work and pure laziness has led me to not write anything until now. I will try to be better and post more in the next 4 weeks! No promises though…
I am exhausted most weekdays here. We wake up around 5:30am, eat breakfast at 6:00am, and leave for the worksite by 6:30am. The bike ride to the worksite is 4 miles and was honestly a terrifying experience at first. Speed limits and lanes are basically suggestions in Vietnam so you have to be really careful when you’re biking on busy roads. This means staying as close as you can to the sidewalk and yielding to every motorbike, car, and truck. Our bikes are pretty old so they sometimes break down in the middle of our bike ride. Luckily CET heard our pleas and we’re getting new bikes this week!!
Once we reach the worksite we are there from 7am to around 9:30am if we finish on time. We are building a concrete path that is about 110 meters long. Usually concrete is made using a machine that mixes the sand, rocks, water, and cement for you but because the machines are dangerous we are hand-mixing the concrete. I don’t think I’ve done anything so physically draining. However, seeing the progress we make everyday is really rewarding and I think I have lost a little weight since we began so that’s encouraging. If you want a more detailed version of how we make the cement check out Joseph’s daily routine + working blog post.
One time I ran over some rocks on the way back to our guesthouse, which led to three holes in my back tire. We stopped at a local bike shop to get it fixed and the man who repaired my bike turned out to be 102 years old. I was shook, especially since he only looked about 80 or so. As he fixed my bike he told us about the wars he has lived through and I tried my best to converse with him using the little Vietnamese I know.
I really admire how he is still able to work at such an elderly age. Most Americans don’t even make it past 100 let alone remain fit enough to work at his age. I think the lifespan differences between America and Vietnam may be due to a difference in how we treat our elderly. In Asian countries, grandparents often live with their grandchildren and help take care of them as they grow older. On the other hand, many American families put grandparents in retirement homes. Studies have shown that elderly people who live in homes as opposed to with their families often die earlier. I think this is because they feel lonely and feel as if they don’t have a purpose in retirement homes. I know my grandparents would be extremely bored if we didn’t allow them to help around the house. I’m not trying to criticize anyone for putting their parents in a retirement home because I know there are legitimate reasons for doing so but I do think it does more harm than good in some cases.
Other things that have happened in the past few weeks:
I have been bitten over 50 times by mosquitos. My legs literally look like I have chickenpox. Bug repellent has not been working at all and I think my chances of getting malaria are actually quite high right now. I wish my blood was less tasty 😦 No pictures will be posted because I don’t want to scare anyone. Just trust me that it’s real bad and that tiger balm is my best friend.
We went Hue this weekend and visited a community for children with mental disabilities. It was a beautiful place and everyone there is so compassionate. I would like to go back and volunteer there someday!
We slept at the beach overnight yesterday in a tent and it reminded me of black tenting at Duke. I miss Duke but I do not miss tenting.
I have two black nails because I keep stubbing my toes on the bedpost.
My Vietnamese nickname is Mập Thù Lù which means fat ass. It’s pretty accurate since I think I eat more than anyone here. So much for losing weight…
Everyone thinks I’m a witch because everyone around me keeps getting sick. First Linda got sick after I slept over in her room. Next my roomie Jane got sick. Now every time someone gets sick everyone blames me…It’s not my fault I have a strong immune system and stomach! I am being more cautious with what I eat now because I’m afraid I’ll be next…
Anyway that’s all for this blog post! Hopefully I’ll post more frequently in the future.
No pictures for now because the internet refuses to let me download any 😦