COS- almost missed my flight after visiting with family, friends, and saying goodbyes because only 1 out of 3 security lanes were open… but amazingly, my roommate & friend Laura Burmeister’s MOM was in line ahead of me and got me through in time!
DALLAS- my flight out of TX was delayed for over an hour- which gave me (& my two 50 lb. bags) plenty of time. It was great to make calls to family/friends before boarding the flight to…
LAX- transferred to international terminal, where I was told I couldn’t board without a visa or return ticket in hand… so bought a ‘refundable’ ticket to Bangkok J
HONG KONG- Karen, my team leader from last year in VN, was on my flight from LAX to Hong Kong- so we caught up over Starbucks! Love the free wi-fi there, too.
BANGKOK- upon arriving, learned there was space on a flight about 9 hours earlier than my scheduled flight… YES! I ran to buy minutes for $6.00 at an internet café, sent an e-mail to Sarah who’d be picking me up in Laos, and then ran to my gate- arriving in a lather- of course to sit and wait for 10 minutes before boarding the plane- which had bright yellow, purple, and pink seats J
VIENTIANE- just as I was getting to the visa desk, a worker from Candlelight school came to meet me and assist with getting my work visa. I was initially given a Ukrainian woman’s visa, but now things are straightened out! BOTH bags made it- PTL.
MON 24th- Sarah (CAMA teammate) treated me to lunch at JOMA- a delicious bakery- where I enjoyed taco salad and mint lemonade. Then I got to shower and freshen up before joining several gals for dinner. I was really fighting jet lag during the evening, but didn’t lay down until 8 pm, and slept really well the first night! I’m staying with Carolyn (another CAMA teammate)- actually in the same house I stayed in when I visited in May J
TUES 25th- Enjoyed a quiet morning at the house. Sarah & Tik picked me up for lunch with the Candlelight staff followed by reading and talking to the Father together. Carolyn spent time with me in the afternoon going over details like transportation, housing, etc. Then we went to an open-air market nearby to purchase some things for dinner- sticky rice, grilled pork, green beans, and other veggies I can’t name each in a separate bag. We brought the goods back to the house for dinner- which always tastes better when you eat with your hands!
WED 26th- Another quiet morning at the house… discovering that the best shower is a purely cold shower with 2 fans going too (that gives you a hint at the weather situation here)! Yes, I constantly “glow” in Laos.
Successes to celebrate today: finding a little side shop on my own where I bought a notebook for Lao class notes, and a coke to help me fight jet lag in the afternoon, PLUS finding a tuk-tuk and not getting too ripped off as a foreigner (10,000 kip= $1.17) and getting to Candlelight without getting lost.
I enjoyed fried rice for lunch with some Candlelight staff (Lao + Foreigners), and then had my first Lao language lessons from 1:30-4:30. We started with 13 consonant sounds- and I have to practice writing them for homework. The written language is fascinating- with lots of little circles- but all circles go on the left! LOVE that rule J Then we had speaking and practiced basic phrases like “What is your name?/My name is…”, etc. My class has 5 people in it- a married couple from Switzerland who speak French, and two people from the organization I worked with last year. I just got back from a dinner of Chinese dumplings and fried eggplant- DElish!
So, enough with all the details. It is GREAT to be here, but surreal also. I feel like I keep stepping back and reminding myself that I am actually staying here… not visiting. I am actually learning the language. I am actually going to be making this place home. There are feelings of excitement, of being overwhelmed at all there is to learn (especially the MAJOR differences from Vietnam), but also definite peace.
I appreciate your thoughts for:
-this period of adjustment
-a learner’s attitude (Language, Culture, Streets!)
-HIS love for Laos
-wisdom with transportation (Bicycle? Moto?)
-housing provision (Lao family? Roommates?)
Love from LAOS!
PS- Not sure how often I’ll have internet- so my apologies if I don’t respond too quickly to communication these days.