Well, we have had quite a bit of fun since I wrote you last. Our dear friend Patrick came to visit us.
Our time together began in downtown Nongkhai, where we took him around the 'Saturday Night Market' along the Mekong River. He proceeded to stay a couple of days with our community here. It was really good to share this dear community with someone we know! Patrick was able to get a few glimpses into our everyday life here - and even got to experience a Community Dinner Night. This is when the entire Garden of Friendship community (where we live) comes together to enjoy a meal together. It's a special experience, and now that we are more immersed into the lives of our Thai friends (and can speak some Thai), our relationships with them are really becoming close friendships. Patrick got to see how much we all tease each other - which is part of the Thai way of life!
Then we all headed out for a short yet delightful vacation to Chiang Mai and Bangkok. It was our first time to Chiang Mai, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Our third traveling companion added to much of that joy. We treated ourselves (and often Patrick treated us - much more than he should have!) to little pleasures that we have become used to not getting regularly. If you know me well, you know how much I enjoy a good latte as a treat. Many of those were involved; two were especially delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
We ate yummy food - one of the highlights was a Burmese dinner. I had never eaten a tea leaf salad before; it is exquisite! Another highlight, as mentioned in John's blog, was eating Mexican food. It was so unbelievably satisfying. The previous volunteers said they missed Mexican food a lot while here. In Nongkhai, we can treat ourselves to a very expensive pizza now and then, but Mexican food is not to be found! Thanks to our many care packages, we can make lots of tacos at home now - which we have successfully tried already. However, it does not compare to the delight we both had in eating fresh Mexican food cooked by someone other than us! And by us, I mean John. I prefer my role as 'suze sous chef.'
In Chiang Mai, we hiked up the nearby mountain to see two temples - in the heat. Patrick did really well. It was really hot out, and John and I are more climate-adjusted! It was all worth it. Both temples were beautiful in their own ways.
John and I treated ourselves to thai massages as well. We have had a couple of these now, and they are very appreciated. We went to the Women's Prison Massage Program in Chiang Mai. The massages are done by women recently released from prison and gives them a fresh start to their lives. My body was used to receiving massage quite regularly, so it especially likes these excursions! Check out more about the Women's Prison program at: http://www.chiangmaithaimassage.com/index.php?name=aboutus
It was so hard to say goodbye to Patrick. He so graciously entered our life here. Upon reflection, it astonishes me that he - as well as my sister and her husband - were so flexible to adjust to the financial limits of our current volunteer lifestyle.
Now we have had a week of normal life. Back to massage 3 afternoons per week. Back to overnight duty. Back to spending time with the most adorable kids. Back to figuring out how to do our taxes from abroad (thanks to our accountant for her generous help with that!). Back to following up on medical bills. Back to quiet evenings filled with reading, conversations with the other half of my Community of Two, and cleaning. :)