Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lao in January

After my week-long sojourn into yogic philosophy alongside the fragrant, shady shore of the Mekong, I journeyed onward to Phuket Thailand.  Liz and Kristin arrived shortly before I did in Phuket after a grueling 48 hours of traveling, and when I arrived at the hotel to find my two oldest friends eating pad thai and green curry calmly in the dining room as if they hadn't recently been in the penalty box in a Chinese Airport unaware if they'd ever make it all the way to Thailand, I felt a surge of wild happiness course through me.  

These two are pretty special and are willing to undergo all sorts of bizarre torture to come see me in Thailand.  The next day, we went on a ferry that would take us eventually to Ko Lanta via Ko Phi PHi (the beach from the movie "The Beach.")  The ferry itself was quite the misadventure but we finally made it all the way to Ko Lanta and our homestay guesthouse.  The family we stayed with was very international; a Swedish-Indian-French mother, Thai father, and two little boys.  I think they spoke 5 languages in their family.  

In Ko Lanta, we rode elephants, watched sunsets, and played in the ocean.  Being able to spend time with these two in Thailand of all places was just magical.  








Now, back in dusty, cool Vientiane, Ko Lanta seems very far away.  I think that having those two weeks of yoga and beach sunsets were a fortunate balm for my life as a teacher here.  Back to my rogue and wonderful 4th graders I go, now with the additional task of serving as the middle school girls' football coach.  I can confidently report that my love for my kids has only grown since I saw them last, and indeed, the better I get to know each student, the more that I like them.  The quirks--ranging from Harry's daily morbid question for me ("Teacher, who is Jack Ripper?" "Teacher, what does assassination mean?"), to Ford's love of boxes, to Party telling me that my hair looks "creepy" (curly maybe?), to Maggie asking me mid-class what a lesbian is, to finding out that one of my students is the grandson of the Prime Minister of Lao, to every single weird and bizarre thing that my students do, think, and say--I love them all so much.  

Me and my Lao co-teacher, Teacher That.  

 Ford's anti-bullying poster.  Please note the very subtle use of "fuck" in his illustration.
 Harry's anti-bullying poster.
My class during recess.  Note that the 'winter' has led to extreme measures such as underarmour and sweatshirts.  
 Imposing western traditions on our children.  They seem to be rather well-received.

 Another pizza party (read: bribery for good behavior.)  The prime minister's grand-son is the one who looks rather unenthusiastic and plump in the middle.

Outside of my frenetic school days, I am enjoying a very Amish lifestyle, with my new regime of early-morning yoga and meditation.  On the weekends, Erica and I play ukelele, make food, and read books/do art.  It's peaceful and quiet and thankfully very cool right now during the cool season.  Like always here, I am so thankful for the opportunity to live in this tiny capital city, interact with bizarre children, and especially to have the time and quiet to pursue things that inspire me like music, meditation, and reading.  

Love and light to all,
Ilse

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