Living in the middle of Nowhere, Cambodia, you come to rely on some things to keep you sane. For me, those things were my shortwave radio and my laptop computer. Every night I was able to catch up on the world news via the BBC and maybe watch a movie once or twice a week on my laptop. I looked forward to these things and relied on them.. maybe a little too much.
This all changed less than two months ago.
First to go was my shortwave. I have to admit, I may have had a hand in its demise. I often keep my window shutters open (much to my Cambodian mother's chagrin) and, as my room is little more than a closet, means that my things have a very close proximity to the windows. These things can (and do) get very wet when it starts raining. More than once I have returned to my room after a day of teaching only to find my mattress is sopping wet and pieces of the mango tree outside my window are littering the floor. This may also be the reason as to why my room has developed a particular funk to it...
Anyways, it was after one of these storms that my radio just stopped working. I was going to Phnom Penh a few days later and kind of put my loss on the back burner and promised to grieve another, more convenient, time. I was also naively optimistic that after my return from Phnom Penh it would just start magicaly working again.
My first morning in Phnom Penh, I grabbed my laptop and went to "the usual" breakfast place to eat a bagel and skype with my family. After a wonderful two hours of skyping, my family and I said goodbye and I went on to do some some other work on the internet. Less than 5 minutes later the screen went black. No amount of turning it back on would work. I wasn't completely convinced that it was broken though, the lights on my keyboard DID light up - which meant it did turn on. I took it to THE place to get computers fixed and after a week, and relinquishing $20 to them, they weren't able to tell me what the problem was.
Maybe it is the stress of being in a foreign country - or the emotional attachment I had to these machines - that I kind of flipped out in the computer store. While I sat there, head down, letting the loss of not one, but two, of my most treasured possessions overtake me ... the store clerk just stared. I was lucky it was a nearly silent affair... but I still didn't appreciate her gawking and quickly left the building for some icecream therapy at the air conditioned mall a block away. Her reaction, coupled with my entire last year of experiences, has convinced me that most Cambodian people do not cry (which is in entirely opposite to anything you might see in a Cambodian music video). At nearly every function I have been to relating to the Khmer Rouge, there will be that one woman or man who will be crying. These people are often stared at, pointed to, but for the most part ignored. Not that I am comparing what they went through to MY loss, just that their stoicism in the face of their tragic past baffles me... and leads me to believe that they have a very hard time -even some 30 years later - dealing with what happened. Something that I like to call "emotional constipation". A condition that I may even suffer from and may justify why I broke down in Phnom Penh and then a week and some days later when I couldn't find a level for my World Map project in my provincial town :P.
Now, since it is summer vacation, I am drowning in free time without the few things that used to keep me distracted from the heat, mosquitoes, and overall loneliness of being in a foreign and isolated place. It has definitely forced me to get creative with my time. I have been working on my blood-pressure taking skills, training for a half marathon, participating in a language exchange with one of my co-teachers, studying for the GRE, and I'm going to hopefully start studying Chinese at a nearby Chinese school. Since this technostrophe, I have also been biking the 40k to my provincial town twice a week (making a total of over 110 miles a week on my bike!).
The loss of my computer took a toll on my blogging...which is why it has been about so long since my last entry. I will be back in town next week to fill you all on what has been going on at my site and in the Peace Corps world of Cambodia.
Until then :)