Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in Oregon

Well there is nothing like skipping the long lines of air travel and hopping on a train for a scenic ride North.

My niece, sister, grandma and I all hopped aboard an Amtrak train for the trip up to Klamath Falls, Oregon.

After some delays because of a power outage in one of the towns and having to manually switch the track we arrived in the snowy Pacific Northwest.

Sliding down the snowy slopes was well worth the trip!

I hope people realize how important family is.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Home, just where I left it.

It is good to return after being away. Some things are changed and some things, well, some things they just never change. I take comfort in that.

I was sitting with my grandma the other day at the beach park and she told me of the old days living on a sugar plantation on the Big Island.

I sat there and her words were transformed into the tastes of the mangoes and the pucker of the citrus they grew. I could hear the click of the abacus her father used to check his monthly earnings. "I asked him to teach me" my grandma said. "No it is too complicated for you" he told her. Girls were supposed to cook and wash the clothes.

Then I saw the dirt in the creases of her childhood hands as she talked about spending time working in the yard and her mother joking that she should have been born a boy and her brother a girl.

The sound of the stream whispered as they played beside it with kids from the plantation. Kids of many races.

Her mother scolded them and told them to play with their own kind.

"But why?" my grandma protested. "We all have to get along in school and they are my friends we should be able to play with everyone..."

I was thinking maybe it was my Grandma who I inherited this openness, a love of strange new sights and the yearning to play with the other kids who were different...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Iki Iki School Cambodia

Smiles and shouting kids greeted us as we pulled into a remote village. The village is an hour and a half away from Siem Reap and the famous Angkor Wat temple. What were we doing so far away from the tourist track? I along with 30 others crammed into the back of a pickup truck to volunteer.

How did I find myself in this village? Well in September I met a couple from Japan in Croatia at the Plitvice Lakes. We talked and I learned of their project to build a school in Cambodia. We made plans to meet when I was in SE Asia so I could help as well. I spent 3 days with them in the village, working alongside a crew of about 30 Japanese.

There were so many kids in this village, maybe an attempt to rebuild the population after Pol Pots elimination of 20% of the people in Cambodia.

Working on the school and staying in the village allowed me to see and understand the culture in Cambodia. People were genuine and the children happy. During breaks I had the opportunity to enjoy the slide and swings, playing games with them. A cacophony of laughter and Khmer shouts.

The Iki Iki school was almost finished when I was there. Only some concrete work and painting to do. I almost missed the opportunity, so glad I made it and could be part of a community again.

There were points where it felt like Japan, surrounded by the language and so many people from all over that country I will visit soon. I realize I need to learn Japanese and soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Farm Life

Well after getting so cozy at the farm I have finally made a move and started my trip south. I have a lot of great memories and met a lot of really fantastic people at Tacomepai but all good things must come to an end.

It is hard to capture all the adventures and stories in the written form as they exist in a world of their own. A living movie and stream of memories. We took some trips into the forest. We harvested bamboo to create drip irrigation systems for the small coffee plants growing under the mango trees.

I snapped some pictures while we were on the way back from the forest and captured a really nice picture of Mong one of the workers on the farm. I had a few pictures printed and gave him the picture I took. Mong took a long look at that picture and a smile as big as the Cheshire Cat's spread across his face. Mong is from Burma. Sandot the owner of the farm paid for him to come to Thailand two years ago and gave him work. He said it was the first picture he had ever had of himself. He touched his heart, said thank you and gave me a hug. Some gifts and gestures have a bigger impact than one could imagine.