Let the children paint

In some ways, time both stands still and blends together.  My days get mixed up and I almost can’t remember what happened yesterday or the day before.  This blog helps me keep everything straight and capture small anecdotes that might otherwise get lost in the recesses of my mind.

We went out to the village by 7:30 am yesterday (Sunday) and found Van’s family along with Lee and the crew hard at work.  I wandered around taking pictures while the light was still good, then got our painting station set up in the small patch of shade next to the temporary shelter.

I set out with the intention of doing a simple swirl painting with the kids.  We worked together to put down the background colours, different shades of blue and a bit of teal.  I then showed them the principle of adding little dabs of paint to create the illusion of a school of fish.  At same point, as the school was coming together, Sreyrouen broke free and started adding some larger fish shapes, as did Sophy and Sreyrout. Instead of swimming against the current, I let them go with the flow.  The result was magical.

The painting got set aside to dry by about 9:30.  Frankly, it was already too hot to be painting.  The temperature had soared above 30 degrees.  

I went for a walk in the neighbourhood and discovered that an “iron buffalo” had broken down carrying a load of about 15 bags of rice (probably 200 pounds per bag).  The axle appeared to have cracked in half due to the strain.  I thought they would be delayed for hours, but the next thing I knew they were rolling down the road, heading to their final destination which happened to be right next door.  I decided to go over and help.  I worked in pairs with the farmer and tossed the massive bags onto larger plastic sheets that had been spread out.  Everyone is drying rice right now.

“Muy, pi, bey,” said the farmer, as we tossed the sacks.  (One, two, three in Khmer)

We unloaded the entire rack and I waved “Lee Hi!” (Goodbye)

“Arkoun chraen,” he said, smiling broadly. (Thank you very much)

We broke for lunch around 11 am and went to the local market, a short ride away.  One of the workers was excited to give me a ride on his motorcycle part of the way.  It was my first time on a motorcycle in about 35 years.  He was rather shocked by my weight.  Cambodians are very trim; sadly, I am less so.

“Oh my god!” he said when I got on. 

I enjoyed fried rice and eggs and four of us enjoyed a scrumptious meal for less than $5 USD.  

By the time we returned, the childrens’ father had returned from the fields with a full load of rice.  His wife help him unload the green bundles and place them on a larger plastic tarp on the ground.  There the rice will dry.  When it is ready, they will step on it with bare feet to release the grain from the shoots.

While this work continued, Van was hard at work in the shelter making woven trays.  

We had told her, through Heng, our translator, that we would buy everything she could make in the time that we are here.  So, she enlisted some extra help.  The trays are strong and exquisitely crafted.  It’s been fun to watch the process off and on when we need breaks from the sun.  

It is fun trying to capture the personalities of the work crew.  These guys work from sun up to sun down.  Several of them are high up on the framed out house all day, hammering into the mahogany pieces.  Others are moving dirt around getting ready for all the concrete mixing that will happen in the next couple of days.  

I drank almost three lites of water throughout the day, and sweated away most of it.  Staying hydrated is a key to staying healthy in this kind of heat.  Kent gave me some electrolyte powder when I was starting to fade at mid-afternoon.  It perked me right up.  Shade is such a precious resource out here.  I managed to find one small sliver and a place to lay down for a few minutes.

The more time we spend on site with the family, the more normal and comfortable it seems.  Personalities emerge, as do family dynamics and personal connections.  This is the luxury that time provides.  We will be with them for a few more days, as the blessing ceremony is now scheduled for Wednesday.  

I’m staying in the city today, doing some painting with our landlord’s daughter Lisa this morning. I also have to finish up the rooster painting and the collaborative painting we did yesterday.  They will both be presented to the family after the blessing ceremony.  I also want to head back to the local art supply store to get them some brushes and additional canvases.  All the paints that I have purchased will stay with them as well.  


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