Monday, October 24, 2011

Meditation Centre

I survived.  I did it!  Wow, what an experience.  Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.  Will I do it again? Yes.
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art of Living

4:00 am
Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am

Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am

Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am

Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am

Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher's instructions
11:00-12:00 noon

Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm

Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm

Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm

Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm

Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher's instructions
5:00-6:00 pm

Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm

Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm

Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm

Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm

Question time in the hall
9:30 pm

Retire to your own room--Lights out

Main entrance

The centre is 22 kms from Battambang which is 4 hours by bus from Siem Reap, it is in the middle of rice fields and surrounded by 3 Pagodas and is in the mountains, very nice.
We were segregated from the moment we arrived at the centre and we only saw the males when we were in the meditation centre, all other times we were not able to even see them.  When we had our Discourse which the foreigners had in a small room in English, we were separated by a screen and the dining room was also divided into two.
The ‘Noble Silence’ commenced 2 hours from when we arrived.  You are not to speak to any of the participants; you can speak to the teacher and the Nun in charge administration.  It was funny, the non-speaking was not hard, as you really didn’t know anyone except Montsay who is a Spanish lady who I am friendly with from Siem Reap.  Montsay was really good; she did not even look at me for 10 days.  I found the fact that I could not make eye contact very difficult.  When the silence ended the Cambodians just stood in front of me and talked and talked and I was trying to tell them that I had no idea what they were saying.  I didn’t matter, they just talked.  In the end, the French lady spoke to a Cambodian who spoke French and she translated into English.  It really didn’t matter as everyone was so lovely and open.  They were very curious to find out how old I was, in fact it was the first question they asked me.
Each participant had their own ‘cell’ which was a partitioned room in a huge tin shed.  The bed was a solid wooden base with a very thin mattress, nothing else was in the room except we put up a mosquito net and two pieces of material to be used as sheets and a very small pillow.
My room
The bathroom was out the back and consisted on a room with a hose shower, cold water or as most of the other ladies did, just bale out the water from an outside tank and pour it over you and was in the open.  The toilets were a choice of Western or Asian (thank heavens). 
The participants were mainly monks and nuns and a number of local men and women who have been to the Centre for a number of courses.  There were only 9 foreigners and of course I was the oldest, six were in there early 20’s.  It was funny, I spent 10 days with them and I was really impressed how well they managed to sit still for so long and I really didn’t think about where they came from.  On the last day when we could speak, we all had accents and came from all around the world.  There were 2 Americans, 1 South African, 1 Spanish, 1 French, 2 Russians, 1 Japanese and 1 Aussie.
Day 1 – waking up at 4am wasn’t really hard, we all trooped into the dark meditation room and sat for 1 ½ hours or should I say I wriggled for that long, breakfast was rice and vegetables and soya milk.  By 11 am I was ready to go home, every part of my body was aching, especially my bottom.  The teacher told me that I could sit in a chair but instead I moved my cushion to the back wall and stayed there for 9 days.
Lunch was – surprise – rice and vegetables.  As a first timer I was allowed to eat an evening meal, poor Montsay only had a glass of lemon juice to sustain her until 6am the next morning.
Day 2 was pretty much the same as the previous one except by now I was feeling no pain as I was eating aspirins as if they were lollies.  The food was the same, except now I had found the chillies, soy sauce and salted peanuts.  The rice available was both steamed and rice porridge, I like porridge and I just had porridge, sugar and banana.  Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed the food, half the time I had no idea what I was eating it was quite tasty.
The days continued the same except that on Day 5 we were given coffee sachets, yes coffee!  It was wonderful but certainly unexpected, after that, the foreigners were given an occasional sachet over the next 5 days.
Noodles occasionally replaced rice and we had fried sweet potato once and some strange fruits for dessert and even toast for breakfast.  All in all, quite good.
What did we do when we meditated?  The first two days we concentrated on breathing and then focused on the nose area and the third day, the top lip.  From there, we started to recognise the feelings that are constantly happening on every part of your body and then eventually you manage to turn your body into fluid!!  I never got past the third day; I managed to sit still but couldn’t get my mind to take the next step.  Long way to go.
The locals were lovely, they totally ignored the rules and whispered amongst themselves and every one of them had their ‘cells’ full of food.  They would come out and give me a lolly or once I got a chocolate drink.  There was hot water available at every meal and I wondered why the ladies kept filling up their cups with hot water and then going back into their room.  They had a stash of coffee, tea and milo.  I will take some tea bags with me next time.  The ladies who have been to other centres, said that it would not be acceptable anywhere else.
There was a lot of down time which was difficult to take as there was nothing to do.  The locals seemed to fill in the time by washing and cleaning.  They were washing their clothes, washing themselves, at least 5 times a day, sweeping their rooms and sweeping up any leaf that fell in the area.  The foreigners walked the area as we were not allowed to do any exercise and just sat around.  It was funny one morning, I was walking to the meditation centre at 4 am and saw a lady lying on the path.  I thought that she had fallen over but no, she was actually doing push ups.
What did I find the hardest to put up with?  The noise.  The frogs, birds and geckos never stopped.  The locals kept singing, swimming and working.  The people in the pagodas kept chanting and playing music and finally when everything outside was quiet, then someone in the room would sneeze and you would jump out of your skin.
I have not got any pictures because, yes, when I got there, took out my camera, the battery was flat.  Montsay took some picture on the last day and I will get some of her pictures which I will put in later.
I am glad I went; I hope to continue to meditate and perhaps actually learn how to do it properly.  Would I recommend it to you to do?  Absolutely.  There are centres in Australia although of course none in the NT.  There is no cost, you are only asked to leave enough money to fund the next person on the next course.
Meditation Hal
Female students

Outside the centre
Birds asleep

Meditation Hall

Saturday, July 23, 2011

End of Term Three - sorry this one is a bit long

Life continued as normal for the next two months and suddenly, Chloe, Gayle and Bronwyn were starting to rush around and visit all the places they wanted to see and buy the presents they had to buy before they had to continue their travels or go back home.
I was still helping out with Touch*A*Life twice a week and trying to get up the motivation to finish my TESOL studies.
The weather was getting even hotter by the day (didn’t think that was possible), it was about 37 degrees every day.
By mid June all the exams had been completed and marked.  Pleased to say that all my students passed very well.  The three girls had packed up and gone to Phnom Pehn for a few days and then planning to go to the beach. 
Unfortunately, Rhiannan who was Lis’ offsider at the village was asked to leave the school due to a huge misunderstanding and quite a lot of ill feeling occurred.  Rhiannan had planned to stay on for another term.  A lot of discussion took place regarding her replacement as the two girls shared a room.
After my last trip travelling by myself, I convinced (wasn’t hard) Lis to come travelling with me to Kampot and Kampong Som Provinces which are the opposite end of Cambodia I travelled last time.
We spent the first night in Phnom Pehn at a very nice hotel which I had chosen as it was very close to the Casino.  Yes, I went there but didn’t stay long as the pokies were very old and I couldn’t afford to even stand near the card tables.
The next day we found ourselves on one of the wonderful busses found only in Asia travelling to Kampot.  Fortunately, this was only a short trip which took 5 hours.
Kampot is a lovely sleepy riverside town, a charming place with a relaxed atmosphere and old fashioned French architecture.  Our guest house was right on the river front next to an old bridge that takes the traffic over the bay.  It certainly is a lovely town and we were going to be there for three days to enjoy it.  As usual, there were a huge number of places to choose from to eat and drink while sitting and watching the sunset.  Our room was nice.
Sunset at Kampot
Durian statue

Unfortunately the weather the next day looked as if it was going to rain and we had planned to go to the market and then spend the day wandering around the town.  Undaunted we walked to the market and then the skies opened and we were in the local market, dodging streams of water that was coming from the tarps and umbrellas the stall holders had placed over their good.  The markets have a distinct smell and believe me, when all the rubbish becomes wet the smell is even more ‘distinct’.   We caught a Tuk Tuk back to one of the restaurants and spent the rest of the day curled up in huge chairs and read books, watching the rain and wind wreak havoc with the countryside.
The next day was our sightseeing day away from Kampot.  We had met this lovely Tuk Tuk driver who for the total amount of $18 took us out for the day.  Riding in a Tuk Tuk in the country is great fun.  You can see and smell everything as you only putt along at about 40 kms.  When it has been raining it makes travelling all the more fun as the roads are so bad, the pot holes which are big enough to hide a cow in are full of water.  The drivers of busses and motorcars care for nothing but themselves so they fly through the water and the poor people on bushbikes, motorbikes and Tuk Tuks get covered in mud.  
The weather was overcast but not raining when we go up in the morning.
Our first visit was to Phnom (means hill) Chhnork and the reason we went there was to see a large limestone cave.  The walk to get to the caves was through a number of rice fields and of course we were accompanied by the local children.  I was happy to go down the stairs to go into the cave but it was pitch black and the only light we had was from our phones, I chickened out.  Lis clambered through the tunnels and had to breathe in a couple of times to fit, so I was glad that I changed my mind.

Rural Countryside
Cave side

Our next trip was to the pepper plantation.  This meant that we travelled for another hour in the Tuk Tuk which gave us a chance to see more countryside.  June is when they plant the rice and it is wonderful to see the farmers with their ox, ploughing the fields and then wonderful shades of green as the rice starts growing taller.  It would be a hard life as most of the farmers only produce enough rice to eat and not a lot left to sell.
Kamot pepper is the best pepper in the world and it was quite surprising how it grows.  I have bought some so that I can give you some.  They sell, green, red and black pepper corms.  They also had durian, jackfruit and other fruits growing. 
 We had lunch there and we had brought some ham and cheese sandwiches from the French bakery in Kampot for the three of us.  It was funny watching the driver trying to look as if he was enjoying the sandwich when he really would have liked a bowl of rice. 

The driver asked us if we would like to meet his Mum as his village was not far from where we were.  He told us that he lives in Kampot as he is studying and his Mum is my age and he would be proud to take us.  We jumped at the idea and so we travelled to his village and met this wonderful old lady and his family, it was nice to sit with them.  The driver translated and they gave us a huge coconut each as a drink. 
Nice way to spend an afternoon, we went back after that only stopping to see where they collect salt.  Kampot has both pepper and salt industry.
There were a lot of ex-pats living in Kampot, I think that there must be a large number of NGO’s there.  The weather was still fine and we saw the sunset from the bar in our guesthouse.

Instead of taking the bus to go to Kep, we travelled with our Tuk Tuk driver again as Kep is only 25 kms away from Kampot and only $2 more than the bus.
Kep is a seaside resort and is famous for its spectacular sunsets and splendid seafood.  It was founded as a colonial retreat for the rich French and later on the rich Cambodians.  The Khmer Rouge really did not like the town at all and the destruction they wrought was nearly total.  Today, dozens of Kep’s luxurious pre-war villas are still just blackened shells.  It is odd walking in the dark and seeing a light in the bottom floor as squatters now life in them.  It is really sad to see such beautiful buildings in such a state.
Our guesthouse was right on the waterfront and had its own private beach.  Unfortunately, the beach was just a pile of rocks with little sand so walking out to the water was a challenge which I did not take up.  The water was very choppy with all the wind and rain in the area so we decided that we would just use the guesthouse swimming pool.  I know a hard life.
Crabs.  During my time in Kep, I ate crabs in a curry, grilled, b-b-qued, chillied.  Fantastic, so cheap.  The only problem is that they are so smaaaaaaaaaaall and hard to eat.  I know, I have been spoiled by the mud crabs that Gill and Nathan give me.  I keep telling everyone who will listen that the crabs in Cambodia are smaller that our seashells.  
What did we do in Kep?  Not a lot.  We ate, we walked, we drank and we then had to eat again.  We didn’t swim in the sea but I am sure that it would be OK.  There were a lot of locals swimming.  Life is very quiet and slow in Kep.  Think I could settle down there.  There are still things you could volunteer to do but when you didn’t want to, you could just sit.


The Vietnam border is about 15kms from Kep and a lot of people get the bus from there and travel on to Saigon.
We had a date the next day with Sandra in Sihanoukville, so we left the next day on a share taxi, fortunately this one was not crowded.
I had organised for Sandra to be picked up by a taxi and brought down to Sihanoukville to our hotel thus saving me a trip back to Phnom Pehn to pick her up.  She arrived at the hotel about 1 hour after us.  Sandra had been travelling for two days from Townsville and it was lovely to see her again.  Sandra was only over for two weeks as that is all the holidays they have this time of the year in Queensland schools.  Sandra is planning to come back for 3 months to Siem Reap in January and certainly looking forward to it.  She may spend some time at the school here as a short term teacher, time will tell.
The three days in Sihanoukville was spent on the beach with a trip to one of the islands on the second day.  Lovely, the weather was perfect.  I will definitely have to go back there before I go home.

We thought that we would hang the expense and get a private car to take us back to Siem Reap.  We chose the time to leave and with just the three of us and the driver in the car, we could stop when we chose.  Great, it was a little expensive $105 for a 10 hour trip but it beats the bus hands down.  It rained non-stop from Phnom Pehn to Siem Reap, guess the rain was waiting for us to come back.  Great holiday and neither Lis or I wanted to come back.
The new teachers were already comfortable at the school.  Clare, who is about 25 from Melbourne, Maurine who is over 60 from Melbourne and Barry who is about 55 from Townsville.   Unfortunately, Barry left the school on the second week although he only taught for 2 days and never entered the classroom again.  I think that he had health problems which were aggravated by stress; I think that he was not comfortable in front of a class.  Fortunately for Mel, there was a young lass here from London who was a friend of one of the teachers and she managed to change her life around for a couple of weeks and so she is here until August and then Mel should have found someone by then.
We also found out that Lis’ new room-mate was a young 18 year old male and of course that caused a lot of moral problems for Lis.  The people she lived with in the village had adopted her as a daughter and the idea of her living with a young man in the same room was not culturally acceptable, as it is also not in Australia.  Lis found that a compromise could not be found i.e. put the lad somewhere else and bring in another girl, Lis had to resign.  It was very hard on her but she felt that she had little choice.  She has moved in with Lyn and is helping her with her school and also still doing a little teaching in the village.
Lyn had moved houses while I was away.  She has moved a little closer to town and is renting a number of rooms in a big house.  The owners offered her an area outside of the house for a school at no charge if she would provide a free school.  They have done a lot of work on the room and made it quite nice.  Lyn is using that for her classroom, sometimes having as many as 40 kids in the room and using the foyer area of the house for younger ones.  She really has no idea of her numbers as they come and go all the time; she knows that it is over 200.  Lyn is still finding it hard without volunteers although she has Mel who is a Rover from Tassie, Richard her son and now Lis.  I think she could do with some more as it must be quite hectic at times.

My birthday was spent, firstly opening presents from home.  John had sent a parcel for Sandra to bring over and she did not give me my presents until the day before and only then as she was flying home.  It was lovely reading the cards and opening the gifts, must admit that I got a bit soppy.  We had our Sunday lesson planning meeting and during that a lovely bouquet of flowers arrived from Lis.  I received texts from my family and in the afternoon I went swimming at my friend’s beautiful villa with Lis, Lyn, Mel (the Rover) and Richard.  They presented me with a cake.  Nice afternoon, in the evening I went to dinner with two of the people from the school.
Last Saturday/Sunday, Lis and I stayed at one of the 5 star hotels here.  John had given me membership to the Accor club which entitles you to a free night in an Accor hotel and the only one in Cambodia was the Sofitel Angkor Golf and Spa Resort.  Wow.  We were treated like Queens from the moment we went in there until we left 24 hours later.  The swimming pool is the biggest in Cambodia, the rack of lamb was Australian lamb and the breakfast buffet was huge.  We were given red roses when we left the restaurant and a birthday cake, basket of fresh fruit, macaroons and special container of Cambodian spices and free drinks.  I could learn to like living like the ‘rich and famous’.   Thank You John for your lovely gift.  
I am still trying to finish my TESOL course but find it hard to do the final part which is covering areas that I am not sure about.  I have given myself till the middle of August to finish it.  Clare who is a lovely lady from England is here at the school until the end of this term and she is TESOL qualified and very clever, she is going to be my assessor.  I will be so glad when it is finished.
What about me.  I am really happy and certainly fit and well although I still have not lost any weight which is strange as I don’t eat a lot.  Think I have lost about 5kgs.
I walk a lot and love working with the people from Touch*A*Life and I have just met up with a lady who does craft work with the kids from the orphanages around here and Battenbang.  I love the idea of doing craft with the kids so will think about what I can do and where I can get materials.
I miss my family and friends especially in the evenings after teaching but thank heavens for Facebook and texts.
I am sorry that this has become so long but once I start (takes ages) I can’t stop.  I am sure there is a lot of other things I have forgotten to tell you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

You asked for it, the next installment

OK!  I know I have got slack and have started letting my Blog get way behind but I really don’t have any excuse.
Lyn’s (the ex Chief of Tassie Scouts) school is starting to grow but unfortunately not as fast as she would like.  Richard, one of her sons has come over from England and is helping with the teaching by taking the very young children.  Lyn has decided to work with school children starting at 6 years old and upwards and he is doing a great job.  He is becoming more confident by the day.  Unfortunately, Lyn still is having difficulty getting Volunteers although there is a young Venturer coming from Tassie next month to spend a month or so which will give Lyn  a but of a break.  Lyn is living about 30 minutes from the centre of Siem Reap which seems to be a bit of a problem with volunteers but there is a market just down the road and at the other end is the local swimming area.  Lyn currently has over 50 students but she needs to double that number to cover costs, I know that it will happen as the students enjoy coming and it is only $5 per month.  I have attached a number of pictures of the classroom and the surrounds are really lovely.  You are woken up in the morning at 4am by the neighbouring Monks chanting and then the next sound is the next door neighbour boy hammering in the rope that holds the two cows that graze in Lyn’s rice paddy.  I have spent a lot of time staying with Lyn over the last few months as we have had a heap of holidays lately.

Khmer New Year was not quite what I thought it would be.  We had nine days off work and four of the teachers went to Bangkok, Lis’ parents were here and I went in search of parties that I couldn’t find.  Lyn, Richard and I stayed in one of the local guesthouses for 3 days and that was nice but the whole town was very quiet as most people go home to their families in their home provinces.  It was a little disappointing as I thought that there would be parties and had dropped a number of hints for invites to parties but the only ones involved a long bus trip to go home with the students and after my travels a few weeks before, I was not ready for another bus trip.
The students started trickling back and by the end of the week, my classroom looked full again.  All in all I thing we lost over 10 days teaching.
John, Nathan, Gillian, Renee and Aaron decided to go back to Vietnam making the most of the Easter and ANZAC break and they arrived in HCMC (Saigon) on the 21st   April and spent some time in NahTrang and then travelled to Vung Tou to take part in the ANZAC Day celebrations.  Unfortunately, they were unable to go to the Dawn Service but spent the rest of the day driving around the area.  They had a memorable time and were glad to have the opportunity to be there for that special day.  They then went back to HCMC to spend many hours in the tattoo parlour.  (See pictures)  All four of them are proudly wearing new markings.  I didn’t get a picture of them all.  No I didn’t get another one.
I joined the family for their last weekend flying into HCMC lunch time on Friday as I managed to find someone to take my Friday classes and flew out the next Monday which was the same day that the family few back to Darwin.  It was lovely seeing them again and to catch up with all the news.  I didn’t realise how lonely I was until I spent time with them and realised how much I miss everyone.  It was hard to say goodbye especially knowing that I would not be seeing them again until December.



The new teachers are well and truly settled in and are certainly doing a great job.  Paul, Gayl, Chloe, Bronwyn, Clare and Riannan are the new teachers and they are quite a lot younger than the previous teachers and they go out at 10pm and come home in the early hours most nights.  Paul and Riannan are staying on for the next term along with Lis and myself.  We are getting a second male next term which will be company for Paul and some older ladies as well.  The new teachers are certainly finding life here a lot better as Mel the Director is providing more resources, great reading books and even lesson plans.

What else have I been doing?  Well I went horse riding a couple of weekends ago.  Lis and I were looking for something to do as we were on yet another public holiday so we decided to go on a 3 hours horse ride.  The horse ranch was really good and certainly better that I thought it would be.   The owner is a Cambodian who had lived in America for 30 years and then came home and set up a horse ranch with locally bred horses.  The local horses are a bit taller than the Vietnamese horses and these have been bred with Arabian horses and the results are very strong horses that are getting higher all the time.  We had a ranch employee with us and she was a young lady from New Zealand who was on holiday here and ended up working for the ranch and has been there for 3 years.  The three of us set off and crossed a busy road and then spent three hours walking through rice fields, around villages, walking around temples and breaking into trots and generally having a great time.  My horse liked rolling in sand and I was told to watch out when there was sand and stop him from rolling over to enjoy the sand, I managed to do so until there was a very big inviting patch and down he went, happily rolling in the sand, having no regard for the person who was sitting in the saddle.  I got off OK but then was faced with the problem of trying to remount.  My leg didn’t seem to be able to reach the stirrups and as you all know, I am not exactly a light weight, served the horse right!!  It was great fun, made more exciting as Lis’s horse didn’t like my horse and every time it came near to my horse, it tried to bit my horse’s butt!  As I mentioned, we did quite a bit of trotting and the next morning I woke up and bounced out of bed only to end up walking around very slowly and sitting down with even more care.  We will be back but perhaps for a shorter ride as three hours is a bit long.  It is amazing how many tourists go for a horse ride.

Sunday 20th saw the arrival of Sue Mitchell for WA, Sue is the ex Chief Commissioner of WA.  It was great to see her as Lyn and I hadn’t seen her since we were in WA for the operations meeting in March 2010.  Sue had just spent 5 days in rural Vietnam where she went with a dental team and saw over 500 children in 5 days doing a large number of extractions and fillings.  It must have been wonderful and certainly an experience.  Sue started Dental Health training when she completed her time as Chief Commissioner of WA and was looking for something to fill in the spare time.  I am sure that this will be the first of many trips.  Sue was introduced to a lady here who organises trips medical trips and dental hygiene is certainly needed here in Cambodia as well.      
Sorry, now I have started I am on a roll and you are getting more information that you want.

I have been spending time with a number of volunteers who help out in a NGO called a Touch of Life.  It is a Singaporean based organisation who provides healthy food for the street kids and others who are unable to provide food for themselves.  I go on a Wednesday morning arriving about 8am and help prepare food for about 150 children and adults which is served from 11.30 for an hour.  The food consists of rices, omelette with carrots and onions, a stir fry of eggplant and oyster sauce and a soup/curry made with vegetables.  They are allowed to come back as many times as they like while the food is there.  It is quite a sight, some of the kids are only 2 years old and they are looked after by their older sisters.  The kids mainly survive by collecting cans and bottles, the adults are either unemployed or the ladies work by sweeping the streets but they are only paid $30per month for a 13 hour day and if they are sick and can not work they are fined $5.  The young Cambodian who is employed is really lovely as are his family who helps out when there are not volunteers available.
On Saturday, 350 meals are prepared and then taken out to some of the poorer people in the villages around Siem Reap.  I helped out last Saturday and will continue to do so when I can.  We used 160 eggs to make the omelettes, cooked 60 kg of rice and made 3 big pots of soup.  There were 6 volunteers on Saturday but sometimes there are none and the poor family take ages to make up the packages.   

We finished cooking about noon and then proceeded to wrap up the food.  We put a bowl full of rice and a slice of omelette on brown paper and wrapped it up with a rubber band around it and then got a plastic bag and poured in the hot soup and secured the soup with a rubber band.  Good fun, believe it or not I didn’t end up with 3rd degree burns.  The packages are then put in bags and put into an open jeep which is provided by two great guys who deliver the food every Saturday.  I went out with them, it was an experience as it had been raining and of course all the dirt roads were either flooded or very muddy.    Carston who is the driver obviously knows no fear as we flew around corners and tilted dangerously and ploughed through the water.   When we pulled up, people came out to the jeep with bowls and we provided the meals, it was like Cambodian Meals-on-Wheels.  We took about 2 hours delivering the food and of course it started to rain and by the time we were finished, we were a little more than wet.  Sit it was a great day and we then went back to Carston’s bar and enjoyed a meal and a couple of drinks.  Lis and I walked home about 11pm that night. 
It was good to get out of the school and meet up with a number of great people who either volunteer here or who have businesses.  There is so much poverty here but there are people helping and caring although unfortunately it is  not the Government.
I have decided to stay on here until December and so will be home for Christmas and for Chris’s 40th birthday.