29 November, 2011

Boats and Beauty.

Many times a picture doesn't do reality justice…well, at Wat Opot, it seems to be quite the opposite.  Wayne and I chat about how some of the photos we take, just don’t seem real.  When you live in beautiful surroundings you take things for granted.  Although there is plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers here, I have to consciously take a look at the beauty that surrounds me.  Be it the face of a child, our spectacular sunsets, or a lotus flower blooming; being aware of what’s going around directly in front of me, at that moment is what I have to remind myself.

Once when I posted a photo of some of the kids playing with a cart, my sister commented about the bougainvillea bush and it’s gorgeous fuchsia colored flowers in the background; something  I didn’t even ‘see’ in the photo.  I remember that photo when I look at things now.  What do I really ‘see’?  We watched the movie, "Avatar" again the other evening and their saying “I see you” which is kind of like “Namaste” in a way; refers to really SEEING what’s in front of you, not just with your eyes but with your heart– made me think about that photo.

 The process of not ‘seeing’ works to our advantage occasionally - when we have unexpected visitors to Wat Opot and didn’t have time for the kids to do a quick clean up.  I notice every small snack wrapper on the ground; whereas I am sure no one else even notices them.  Wayne and I (and whichever volunteer is up early) enjoy many quiet mornings drinking coffee with our breakfast at Channgs Café.  The other morning we just sat and had a contemplation (of sorts) about our life at Wat Opot – how we enjoy such beauty (and quietness - when the kids are in school) each morning   I used to drive to cafés with outdoor seating in various cities I have lived in to get a small portion of the life I now lead.  I never thought about why I drove miles to sit at Austin Java Ca or walked a mile to sit at Le Pain Quotidien.  I guess I found quiet solitude even if the café was noisy and crowded…

Earlier this year we had some young German volunteers and they helped the kids build boats from water bottles, bamboo, string and material.  The boats have been proudly displayed in the craft room for months and finally I gave in to the youngster’s constant urging and let them set the boats afloat on the small pool near Channgs café. 

Our photographs sometimes seem surreal; the photograph below is such a one. 

When I download the photos of that day a week later, I just stared at them.  Is life at Wat Opot really this idyllic?  Such simplistic momentary beauty (which consciously passed me by) was captured forever through the lens of my camera.

Here are other photos taken as the youngest Watopotians enjoyed their long awaited morning.

After a while the kids felt the serenity and, subconsciously or not, placed themselves a short distance from each other as they watched the boats float aimlessly about.  

Can life really be that simplistic?  The answer is yes, at least for moments in time – if you do not become aware; to strive to be in the here and now, they pass you by.  It’s never too late to stop and smell the flowers...to watch the boats float...or Wayne mow the grass...

24 November, 2011

It’s dress-up time!

Amongst all the goodies that Diane Bernowski gathered, packed up and sent with US volunteers coming to Cambodia, were dress-up clothes!  WHAT FUN!!  It didn’t take long for them to be put to good use…

Especially the rockin’ sun glasses.

The glamorous skirts are seemingly not gender specific; as Mr. SaOun wears his proudly while playing with his truck and high schooler Mengthy, dons one as well. Who says real men don’t wear pink and lace and see through tule!

And Ms. Venot, our infamous shirtless wild child, displays her lovely attire.

Oops – got to remember those undies next time!!

Super-Cool-Princess Srey Nak wishes all her "Amerik" viewers a very very happy Thanksgiving day all the way from Cambodia!

18 November, 2011

Sugar cane drink

Before school started I drove the high school kids to their school many times (pre-bicycles) so they could get registered, check on their classes and teachers and sometimes (which I found out later) they didn’t necessarily need to go, but just wanted to ride in the truck.  On one of those trips, we cooled off in the heat with sugar cane drinks.  It is such a refreshing natural thirst quencher on hot days –which are sneaking up on us again.

For a mere 500 reil or US $.13 you can trot across the street and watch while the sugar cane stalks are put through the grinder machine over and over again while the extracted juice runs slowly out.  Add a little ice and a straw and instant refreshment and smiles!

Here’s the machine in action at Wat Opot.

12 November, 2011

One Day on Earth 11-11-11

What did Wat Opot do for One Day on Earth, 11-11-11?

We loaded up both vehicles and took the crew to Phnom Chisor Mountain!

Once there, a quick roll call.

Then it’s up the 250 steps (not sure of the accuracy of that count but the kids seems intent on that number...although websites say 400 steps which seems more like it!).

And up…

And up!  Those that ran ahead got to rest waiting for us to catch up.

Yeah, we made it to the top!

Quick snacks and a quicker rest on the hammocks.

A greeting from the resident monkey – who is not quite fond of the children, but seems to have taken a liking to Wayne.

Wow, what a view!

Our first attempt at organizing them all for a photo shoot.

Then we moved to a nicer place – one where no one could fall off the edge!

Our youngest Watopotian was able to come too – even after the ruckus of the video's and photo's and missing her nap, she was a trooper.

More photo’s.

Then back to Wat Opot.

Singing a song outside at dusk.

and then a break before nightly meditation – I was honored with my periodic lice check (negative!) by Srey Po and nightly short massage by Venot and yes…more photo ops.

Wayne started meditation and it didn’t take long for Rortana to pass out with exhaustion!

And then others followed suit…

A full moon and Lord of the Rings part 3 ended our productive day!