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April 15, 2005

Back to Khao Lak

It was sad leaving the Wat Pa Saan camp this afternoon, even after the tough and confusing week there. We spent the morning playing Bingo, which Lisa and I made out of cardboard and woodchips, with help from the Peace Corps filling in the numbers. The Thais all went crazy for it. We played for two and a half hours before Nanon pulled the plug for lunch.

We never did figure out a formal class schedule this week. We actually only offered three classes, then it was Songkran for two days, then today was a half day and a lot of the adults were working. So it was pretty confusing. We never really ironed out the meals thing either. Today it seemed that we had sort of a special lunch: a fish soup with 'pumpkin,' some kind of pork scramble, and a very spicy green beans and fish thing. By the way, anytime I describe food, you always can assume: "and rice." I didn't eat a lot of it, but they really went all out.

***It was hard leaving...Even though we never knew what was going on (at least two of us trying to work the problem and we still couldn't figure it out), it was clear that the people there really, desperately wanted to learn English. It was unfortunate that the holiday confused the potential for formal classes, but I think some of the people got a lot more out of us just hanging around while they worked, saying the English words for what they were working on. And that was a lot more relaxed way of doing things than the class.

The really cool thing is that Jonathan from the Crisis Corps (Peace Corps) is going to translate the words and phrases we used into Thai, and add a Thai pronunciation guide, so the camp will have a laminated set of flashcards. We hand wrote one set of cards, but we expect those will disappear at some point. Also if the Crisis Corps folks monitor what's going on in the camp, they may be able to help with some continuity from volunteer to volunteer. I wasn't really confident that our contact at Tsunami Volunteer would be able to do that — and anyway if they get someone from another org she wouldn't be involved. So it's really great Jonathan is able to help that way.

Nanon clearly had his ideas about the curriculum and they were all good, but a bit unrealistic in timeframe. His schedule didn't accommodate much for absorbtion, which is how I came up with the Bingo game to learn numbers. Worked pretty well, we thought. Nanon works like crazy and has lots of great ideas. He just really wants English speakers around so people can immerse themselves and have resources available to learn even more. The two villages there may be at the camp for three more months, or more. The people staying in tents will get pretty swamped in the rain. I'm not clear what the plans are for relocating these villages, but maybe Saundra will have a better idea after doing some recon over the next month.

Yesterday Lisa and I shopped for a housewarming gift for grandma Yai, seeing as they had given up their bed to sleep on the tile floor for us for a week. I had consulted with Jonathan about whether this would be appropriate, and he said giftgiving in Asia always is a good idea. We ended up giving them a small basket filled with washcloths and lavendar Prickly Heat powder (a staple in this climate), and some colored pencils for the kids. Total cost 200bht. We gave Nanon some roasted cashews, 100 bht. Yai seemed really pleased and insisted on making our photo together (our cameras). She was extra friendly today, and also offered to do our laundry!

After the bingo game, one of the fishermen gave us each a wooden dolphin keychain he had been working on all morning. Hand carved and sanded. It was so sweet. They were talking like they wanted to give us a model boat, send it to us at home, but we really hope they don't — they take 3-5 days to build and it would be much too generous a gift. Nanon gave us each a small batik of fish underwater that said, "All My Hart, Nanon." They are really beautiful, with watery colors and nicely done. Turns out he is a painter as well, and used to have a job with IBM.

We already said See You Later to the Crisis Corps crew of Kerry, Saundra and Jonathan — they hope to be in Khao Lak on Tuesday to get the tour and I'll reconnect with them then. Lisa heads back to BKK tomorrow since she has to work on Monday. She's a science teacher fresh out of college at the American School/BKK.

Yai and the family across the street gave us a ride to the bus station on their way to the waterfall. We got there at 1:30 for our 2:30 bus — lucky thing, too, because the bus came at 2pm. Strange scheduling, but we got home directly, with a fast connection at the Takua Pa depot.

Posted by sedda at April 15, 2005 04:15 PM