Around the world

Around the world; a Nation Hopper's journy to teach on all 7 continents.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big Surprise

I just got back from the adventure!

We went to see Fai's mother who is in prison in Udon.

The trip was pretty uneventful. Two very long bus rides and a very short visit. Noo tried to get Fai more time then the allowed 15 minutes, sadly the people in charge would not budge and we settled with the 15 minutes.

I did see a handful of very interesting people. As we picked Noo up Tuesday morning a man walked by with a very long white beard and a sling shot hanging out of his pocket. I met Jenny who's boyfriend is working in Israel at the moment and whos mother is pregnant and expecting in February. Jenny goes to see her mother at the prison every week. On the way home I saw a car with the word 'satan' written in large letters on the back of a car.

But the most interesting thing happened when I got home. As soon as I was through the door I rushed to the bathroom (the bus ride home was 9 hours and I am not good with squatty pottys). Imagine my surprise when I was ambushed while finishing up by a gigantic, ugly, brown spider. I leapt off the pot faster then you can say Raid. The spider proceeded to leap, and by leap I do mean LEAP, out after me and scuttled/jump across the bathroom floor. I nearly screamed and ran to find P Ui. She came to kill it for me, and was very surprised by the size I might add. I scoured my room, sure there were at least a dozen other spiders waiting to jump me at some point. Thankfully I found none. But I am left scared and with a ridiculously irrational fear of my toilet. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Adventure ahoy

I'm off on an adventure for the next two days!!

All I'll tell you is that it'll be a 14 hour bus ride, Fai, Yi Op, and Noon are coming with me, and we are going somewhere unexpected.

See you on Thursday! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Guess what

Guess where we went today...


BUT I'm jumping ahead. 

First we all went to the office to hang out and play. Noon, Chan, and Blah had an expriment for the kids to do. We mixed corn flour and water together to make sillypuddy. The kids had a lof of fun with it. 

Then we went to the pool for a dip. 

Friday, November 25, 2011


The day after Thanksgiving, most people flock in the fridge for some cold turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green been casserole, and rolls. You carefully slice a roll open, stuffing it with turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy before tenderly putting it in the microwave. Can you really wait a full 2 minutes for the delicious tower of pure Thanksgiving yummyness? Maybe, maybe not. Did I get to partake in this near holy event? Why yes I did. Did I have a turkey-mashed-potatoes-smothered-in-delicious-homemade-gravy-recipe-handed-down-for-generations-sandwich? No. I had bird spit in a cup.


Bird SPIT.

The spit of a swiftlet in fact. These iddy biddy birds build their nests out of spit. An ancient Chinese (practiced in Thailand) secret that says if you take the nest (spit, feathers, bugs, and all), boil it to liquefy it, and then consume it, it's good for your health.

I informed Walai that I had better be flying by the time I finished. Sadly, bird spit does not make you fly.


Dont believe me? Check it out:'s_nest_soup

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day one

It feels sooooooo good to be back!

I have been out of the States for one hundred days :) Doesn't seem like that long.

Walai and I got in at 8:30 last night, Mae Pike (P Ui is in Bangkok visiting her son so Mae Pike is watching over the girls) let the girls stay up late so they could see me. There was lots of screaming and jumping up and down on the girls part. I was weighed down with luggage to do much bouncing around.

I missed breakfast with them, my internal clock is still a bit fuzzy. The cook made som tum for lunch!! And tofu. I was stoked, you cant find tofu in Hyderabad. Ging is coming to pick me up in an hour and I'm going to the office to visit with everyone and show them pictures. I think there is an English lesson today with the girls... Turns out there was no lesson. The staff and I just chit-chatted for a while, the have grown super shy in the last 6 weeks. I went home and Ging picked me up an hour later and we went to the hospital. A few kids from Mae Noi's house are sick and they went to get checked out. Everyone is ok, just a cold. I saw a handful of the girls and they were so excited to see me. I was afraid the little ones, Mint and Pim, would be shy around me like they were at first but I was wrong. They latched onto my legs and arms and Chan had to pry them off. After we took them home we (all the staff girls) out to dinner for Blah's birthday.

Birthday cake 

It was windy and the candles would not light! 

The birthday girl 

Yes, that sign says no peeing. 

Walai and I talked about starting up swim lessons on Saturdays with the girls. I am stoked. I've been out of the water for 3 whole months. I haven't been out for three solid months in ages, its driving me crazy. I've lost my tan, the hair on my arms has grown back and I don't smell like chlorine :(

Monday, November 21, 2011


Made it!!

Mumbai was MUCH more pleasant this time around. We were only delayed a few hours and got into Bangkok at 8 this morning.

Slept most of the morning, then went and poked around a bit. It is SO nice not to have men leering and groping.

I was going somewhere with this post, but can't remember where...

Walai is picking me up in the morning and taking me to Nang Rong. Excited to see the girls!! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Guess where I am....


I had a blond moment the other day when I said I was leaving on Saturday. For some reason I was convinced Saturday was the 20th. It was not. So Sue and I are actually leaving today, in a few hours to be exact, and it is not going to be a pleasant experience.

We leave for the airport at 4pm. Our plane leaves Hyderabad at 9:30 pm. We get to Mumbai at 10:30/45ish pm. We leave Mumbai at 1:50AM. We get into Bangkok at 6:30am Monday morning.


I will sleep all day Monday and then drive back to Nang Rong with Walai (who is currently in Bangkok, for what reason I don't know) Tuesday morning.

Even though Bangkok is flooded, it seems the BCGH is undamaged (I would hope so because we have two rooms booked). Walai and I will have to go the long way to get back, so the 4 hour bus/car ride will turn into 6 or 7. I've been getting ridiculously car sick lately, I hope its just the rodes in India...

The picture count for the last 6 weeks.... 600+
As soon as I get into Nang Rong, I'll be able to put all of them up on Flicker.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Last day of school part two.

Today was painful.

When the bell rang after lunch the girls crowded around, handing back jumpropes and smiling. I felt the tears well up as I told them I was glad I made it in time for one more round of rope. The girls looked at me, confused. My heart plumpeted into my toes. They had no idea I was leaving so soon. The next forty minutes were tourture. I sat and and stared at the gate, too unfocused to be of any use. My foot tapped nervously at the floor. Every few minutes my eyes would dart to the clock, counting down the millaseconds until I had to say goodbye. Suzan watched me with alarm. "I have never seen you upset before." I gave her a tight smile. "I'll get over it."
The bell rang. My stomach flipped over. I stood and went to stand next to Vijaya as the kids filed passed her. Sue was standing at the head of the line by the gate, saying goodbye. The kids beemed and shook my hand or waved as they passed. Most of them still didn't know. I got through the first ten ok. Then Padma came over and asked if I was coming tomorrow. I shook my head and her jaw hit the floor. She started telling the kids as they walked by. The single file line haulted and the kids turned to stare at me. Suddenly I was surrounded. The kids grabbed at my hands and waist. "Bye Mam! I'll miss you Mam! Please come back soon Mam." I shook as many hands as I could. Said goodbye to every face in front of me. Two of my girls walked by, Uma and Shreeja. They both had tears in they eyes. I lost it. My eyes were already brimming with tears. One blink and the tears started falling fast. Vijaya wound her fingers through mine, Padma put her arm around me. With my free hand I gave awkward one armed hugs and hand shakes. Finally, it was over. Or so I thought.
Teacher training lasted two hours. I couldn't tell you what we talked about. I was dreading saying goodbye to the teachers. If saying farewell to the kids had been bad, this was going to be worse. I saw Uma and Shreeja lurking on the playground. Just before the training ended Sue turned to me, asked if I wanted to say anything to the teachers. I shook my head, my eyes welling up again. After some encouraging head nodds I thanked the teachers for letting me be apart of their school, told them how pleased I was with their comitment to the kids. Blah blah blah. I was babbling, bitting back the tears. As I sat there and choked back sobs, each teacher stood up and said something to me. "Thank you for teaching us A-Z. Thank you for being such a sweet person. Thank you for loving our children. Thank you for coming here." I dont need to tell you this did nothing for the tears. We all stood up, preparing to exit stage left. I wipped my eyes and saw the teachers coming at me. I turned and started stacking chairs. After two I was forced to turn around. The teachers had me surrounded. Sue was saying goodbye to the Aayas. Srinivous, Ravinder, and Soloman stepped forward first. They all shook hands with me and thanked me. One by one the other teachers stepped forward to hug me. I stopped fighting and let the tears run free. I said goodbye to each of the teachers. We stood and talked for a few minutes and I regained my composure. One by one they drifted away to say goodbye to Sue. I glanced to my right and saw Uma and Shreeja. Uma's eyes were full of tears. As I looked at her, a big tear rolled down her cheeck. Startled, I pulled her to me and she started weeping. Sobs clawed at my throat but I pushed them away. I looked up at Shreeja, she too was crying. I held out my other arm for her and she burried her head in my shoulder. They both pleaded with me not to go. I towed them to a bench and sat down with them. I took a piece of paper and started writing down the jump rope rhymes I had taught them. By the time I had finished they had stopped crying. "Don't forget us Mam." Shreeja said. I told her I couldn't even if I tried. The two of them stared up at me and it suddenly dawned on me. These girls were looking up at me like I was the greatest thing since sliced bread and wrapped in a halo of light. I had the chance to make an impact on these girls lives. Quick. You have thirty seconds to give these girls 21 years worth of advice and wisdome. What do you say?
"Promise me something."My voice broke on the last word. "Anything Mam." Uma said. Her voice was steady and she looked me straight in the eye. I swallowed. "Work hard in school. Come to school every day and work as hard as you can. Uma. What do you want to be when you grow up?" A doctor was the reply. I looked at Shreeja. I could see the gears clicking behind her eyes. "A teacher." She whispered. I hugged both girls tightly to me.

I'm sorry for over sharing. It's a bit over the top but this day has been seered into my memory forever. I've tried to steer clear of all the raw emotions being in India brings. There is so much pain. To see people living in conditions we think of a unlivable. To hear stories about woman whos husbands beat them until blood gushes from their ears. To know breakfast and lunch at school are the only meals a child can count on. I wish I was strong enough to write about all this. Presently I am not, but I have all the nitty gritty saved up in a vault in my head. Waiting for the day when I am brave enough to unleash it.
I wont ever forget the 6 weeks I have spent here. It has been one of the most rewarding times in my life thus far. The things I have learned about the world and about myself are priceless.

Last day of school

Today is my last day at school, though not my last day in India.

Got next to no sleep last night.
I feel like vomiting.

I can't even drink my tea. Speaking of tea, my cup is hissing like a cucaracha. 0.o
I'm going to miss these kids so much.
I haven't had to say good bye yet, on this trip. This is the first good bye. Who knows if I'll ever see these them again.
Dang it. I'm already in tears.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


 Shilija and I

 Lunch today was bringall, eggplant, curry and a hard boiled egg

 Srinivous doing his presentation at teacher training

Asking questions game. Treeza (blue) was rice. She had to ask discriptive questions to find out what she was.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Children's Day

Today was Children's Day in India. They kids get a half day of fun, games, and prizes. Chris had a bunch of errands to run and picked Sue and I up a little late. We got to school just as the games ended. But we still got to get in on the action. Sue handed out prizes, I made an impromptu speech, took 150 pictures, the teachers handed out cookies, and fun was had by all.

The kids were mimicking Sue

Birthday boy in green

Yashoda on the left

Singing a song

Treeza singing a beautiful song in Telugu. Rajitha standing with her.
Uma, aka Pinky, saying a few words to her fellow classmates

Sue handing out prizes

                                                                             Speech! Speech!

                                                                              Cookie time!

                                                                              My boys
From left to right: Yashoda, Rebecca, Shilaya, Vijaya, Rehana

                                           From left to right: Yashoday, Padma, Azia, Mary, Treeza

All the Aayas

                                                             All the teachers and some Aayas

Me with Ravinder and his two girls

Me with Vijaya, her daughter Artie, and the watchman

Yashoda's daughter, a student holding Artie, and Shrija
Trisha, Ravinders oldest girl

Artie with Tulasi and Kotima

Yashoda and her daughter

The night watchman and Yashoda's daughter.

Whew. It took 2 hours to get all these pictures put up. In case you are wondering, here is a list of 6 things that take 2 hours to do.  

-Watch Hannibal Rising
-Swim 6,000 yards
-Listen to 31 songs
-Fly from Austin to Albuquerque-it only takes an hour, but with the time change its two
-Chew your leg off and bleed to death -I don't have any experience with this, but it seems about right
-Make grape jelly from scrach