a blog about the cultural experiences my husband and I have because of our work abroad...what's delightful and beautiful about different countries and cultures...what we have learned from living and working in countries other than our home country...and how those experiences have changed us

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Monsoon season

It's October, my favorite month of the year in the northwestern United States. October is the wettest month of the monsoon season in Cambodia. We sometimes have a river instead of a street outside our apartment. The security guards for our apartment and the businesses across the street take off their shoes and roll up their pant legs during the rain showers. I mostly avoid the worst times of the day, the downpours are generally short, but the other night Stephen and I had to wade through the streets as we walked home from dinner. We made it to the restaurant just as the rains began and waited until it had slowed to a sprinkle before venturing out again. Everyone moves toward the middle of the road, the highest part. I saw one guy run behind a tuk-tuk in the middle of the street rather than wade in the water on the side. And two guys held a girl's bicycle steady for her as she stepped off the curb onto the peddles of her bike. She peddled away without having to first soak her feet in the river that was the road. I had to laugh with delight. Who does that? Only Cambodians!
This October Stephen and I get to enjoy the beautiful fall in the US. I'm so excited! Maybe I'll get to see snow this year! But even if I don't, I know the weather will be perfect. We are really ready for this reprieve to the states. Stephen, worn down, has been sick for the last two weeks. It's just a really good time for a break from it all. We'll stock up on things we can't get in Cambodia, so there is quite a bit of shopping to do. Now that we've been here over a year, I have a lot better idea what things we need to bring back with us. I can only buy the kind of art supplies I use in the US. So I have to try to anticipate what paint, brushes, disposable palette paper, colored pencils, and manual pencils sharpeners I will need for the next 10 months.
We can't possibly bring back with us the amount of coffee we will drink over that time, but we will load our suitcases with as many pounds as will fit, given space and weight limits. I love swiffer cloths for cleaning our tile floor and they are light so easy to stock up on those. Our wardrobe and shoe needs are quite different living in the tropics year round. Not only are some fabrics just beyond uncomfortable (polyester, nylon, corduroy, jean and oh my goodness don't even think about wool) but we wash and wear multiple outfits in the same day, making us very hard on clothes. We are quickly wearing the clothes we brought with us to threads. And shoes. Brother. I love shoes and I have so many cute ones that are just about impossible to wear here. Shoes are an issue for Stephen too. In the US people generally don't take their shoes off during the course of a day. But in Cambodia taking off your shoes to enter homes, business, schools is common practice. Most Cambodians wear slip on shoes to make life easier. Trying to find professional looking slip-on shoes for a man is quite the challenge. I guess there's not that much demand for such a thing in the US.

After the shopping is done and of course doctor and dentist appointments, we get to just relax and enjoy the best of what the first world has to offer. And with any luck we will return refreshed and ready to dive into another 10 months of life in the third world.

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