Maria Holland

This Is What We Came For

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Today was the first time on the trip that I didn’t wake up until it was time to go!  Kim and I went adventuring for breakfast outside the hotel. 

First stop was a fruit stand.  I grabbed a bunch of tiny oranges and, when the lady told me a price in Khmer, guessed and and offered her a dollar.  I would not have objected if she’d gestured for more, so I was surprised when she handed me change in riel!  Kim picked tiny bananas, and the lady held up two fingers.  Apparently she meant 2,000 riel instead of $2, because Kim’s second dollar was refused and she got change as well.  Honest fruit sellers?  We are not in China anymore. 

We also stopped by the convenience store next door, where we scanned the aisles and saw cookies, crackers, juice, water, Miller High Life, vodka cruisers – you know, the usual.  (Question: Are vodka cruisers the champagne of bottled cocktails?)

After this adventurous breakfast, we returned to the orphanage.  We had the full day, so we got down to the major tasks at hand. 

Kim and I began mapping the orphanage compound.  She somehow had access to a surveyor’s tape measure, which made short work of the long distances involved.  We measured all the buildings and concrete pads as well as the major natural features – accurate, I figure, to within a foot. 

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The resulting map:


The entrance is in the lower right-hand corner.  The pink building is the pastor’s house and the one across from it is the church.  The buildings at the top are the dormitory, wet season cooking area, and chicken shelters, and the blue area is the pond.

While we were mapping the land, Rick tackled the water.  No, he was not trying to club fish.  Using a weight and a marked string, he measured the depth of the pond – it’s called bathymetry!

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Garret and Rick, electrical engineers extraordinaire, also did an electrical survey of the orphanage.  Most of what they found was not interesting to me, as the movement of electrons is anathema to me, but I loved these images that they encountered:

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The last time I saw wiring that scary was in my circuits lab . . .

Michelle got busy testing the water in the pond and well. 

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It was very scientific.  Behold:

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We tested for heavy metals, nitrates, nitrites, bacteria, pH, and a bunch of stuff I can’t remember (as chemistry is also not one of my faves). 

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After they got back from school around 11, the kids were pretty interested and came in close, which gave us an opportunity to befriend them. 

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I also learned more words!  Duck (“dee”), water (“duck”), pig (“chdoo”), and mosquito (“saht mao”)

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We also used coloring books to befriend the children.  Especially the adorable baby : )

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At the end of the day, we sat down again with Pastor Mao to ask more questions that had come up.  Again, I realized the importance of having us physically there.  We asked why they weren’t using the rainwater collection system that they had, which he answered by saying that the water got stagnant and dirty.  A few questions later, we learned that this was because the pump had broken . . . Broken pumps, we can fix!

Dinner at The Restaurant was the best yet.  There’s this delicious dipping sauce that they bring out with the fries . . . It may or may not be made with animal fat, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, but it is definitely amazing. 

  1. Gorgeous pictures…so colorful.

  2. did you fix the pump??!! reading on…………….

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