Monday, July 4, 2005

Oh Say Can You See?

Hey All,

Happy 4th of July to you on the 5th of July in Vietnam!

Since arriving in Ninh Binh Sunday night, we have been the responsibility of Mr. Le (the man working on the project with Mary Kay) and his entourage of family, friends and curious onlookers.

On the 4th of July, he wanted to celebrate the independence of his 2nd country, so Mary Kay and I sang the Star Spangled Banner before lunch. Everyone in the room clapped along in time. I've never thought of the SSB as a clapping song, but it does help you keep it moving.

After lunch we were told to go upstairs and take a nap. They were arranging for two ladies from the blind massage school to come over and give us massages. A one hour massage costs $1.00! There are parts of it that are nice, but there are also parts of it that feel like you laying on your stomach with a woman sitting on your butt punching you in the kidneys. That part is less nice.

We also went to the school yesterday. The walls and roof are up and it's looking good. We've got to meet Mr. Le at 2:30 today because some of the blind kids who will be attending the school will be coming. At least I think so. Mr. Le is our only connection to the English language and that connection is very tenuous. Last night I thought he was inviting us to Chinese tea, when in fact he was talking about charity. Today I thought he had pictures of the ocean, but no... they are pictures to auction at a fundraiser.

Everyone else speaks Vietnamese and nods and laughs even though we have no idea what's going on. My Vietnamese is not progressing very well, but I have learned "beautiful" which I've added to my list along with "very good". I figure if you can tell people hello and then point at things and proclaim them either "beautiful" or "very good", that must be the way to make friends and influence people.

Yesterday we went to Tam Coc and were paddled along in a boat down a river and into caves. It seems the people in the area hid in these caves when they were getting bombed by the Americans. No one seems to hold a grudge and they smile and wave when you say you are from the US.

Today, we went to Ken Ga... a floating village. People live in houses for a few months out of the year, then in their boats when the river floods above the house level. The women go into the mountains and work 8 hours collecting rocks which will be used to build homes and roads. For this they get paid 20,000 dong. Right now 15,700 is $1.00. I'll leave it to you to do the math. The men stay home with the kids.

Other people go out into the river in teams of two to fish. One person rows the boat with their feet (their arms get tired and if they row with their feet they can multitask) while the other throws a net off the back of the boat to catch fish, snails... basically whatever's down there.

The food has been good. Mostly fish because Mary Kay is a vegetarian (this is helpful). I ate some meat at our picnic lunch today... I'm not sure what kind. It looked like shredded wheat and I thought it was dried fish. Oh well.

I'm having a love affair with pineapple, it is so juicy and delicious here. There is also something called dragon fruit. It's kind of like a kiwi on the inside, it's got a white flesh and a lot of little black seeds.. it's good too.

I've decided I need someone else to be carrying the camera around. It's fun to take photos... but "I'm ready for my close up..." and how do I get that if I'm always behind the camera. We'll see if we can get an interview with Mr. Le later tonight. It's going to be a very cool movie. Danny, you will have a lot of work to do helping me with the editing. I'm convinced it can all be fixed in post production!

Now I will attempt to add some photos to this. We shall see.

Happy belated birthday to Mom and Kyle, happy birthday to John and happy cool, dry weather to the rest of you!

Chao! (goodbye)
Miss K

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