Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beyond Explanation

[EDITOR'S NOTE: March 22, 2008: 7pm EDT, pictures posted...enjoy!]

Yesterday I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. We had spent several days building a concrete floor for a school in a small, local village, and had finally finished. The villagers wanted to thank us, so they held a ceremony in our honour.

We sat down, in a circle around some sacred Buddhist offerings, and the village elder lead a prayer (in Lao). The leader splashed some rice whisky on our hands and then offered us some bananas and taro to snack on. After the blessing, I felt the hands of many villagers come around me, as they turned me around, said a few words, which I couldn't understand, and then proceeded to take white strings, and tie them around my wrists. Apparently it was for good luck, and to ward off evil spirits, who am I to argue.

Afterwards, they offered us some chicken (which I refused -- vegan), and some rice whiskey (which I also -- teacher, in front of students).

They then began a series of call and answer songs, and then the old men started to drum, and play a variety of string instruments, which I couldn't tell you the name of for the life of me. The oldest man got up, bowed in front of one of the female teachers and picked her up into the centre of the circle. This set off a chain, as several other old Laotians rose, bowed in front of a Westerner, and brought them into the circle. Next thing we knew we were all dancing around, very slowly and dramatically, sometimes my partner (a Lao woman in her least) and I would change places in the circle, to the great amusment of the locals.

This process was repeated time and time, again, by the 5th time or so, we deciided that we needed to show the Laotians some "Canadian Dance Moves", and myself and an other student proceeded to demonstrate the shopping card, the lawnmower, the robot, chruning the butter, the dice roll, the macarana, and a variety of disco moves. It would have been a great promotional video for "Dynamic Inter-Cultural Exchanges" to say the least.

Afterwards, we talked, even though we didn't share the same language, we shared some laughs. As we drove off from the village, I looked at all of the students and I asked them a simple question "Was this real, or just another Malarone Dream?".

Looking back at my camera, the pictures tell me it wasn't a dream, but I still need a bit more convincing.

Until next time,


P.S. Here is the finished product for anyone interested

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Malarone Chronicles

Hello there all, I am writing to you livefrom the Laos People's Democratic Republic, and things have been going super dee duper well thus far. I've got lots of stories already, but only so much internet time to share them. The one thing that I want to talk about today is not the temples, the scenary, or the people, no it's the drugs.

If any of you have ever been to a tropical climate you may have heard of a little thing called Malarone. See Malarone is a drug that prevents you from getting Malaria, so it's a pretty handy thing to have. However, one of the side effects of Malarone is very, very vivid dreams. I have had a number of vivid dreams since I got here, but many of them were rather forgettable. However there are two that stand out.

During the first dream, I was in class teaching, when the Head of School came into my class and told me what a great job I had been doing teaching during my first year. Of course, I was humbled by this, and I thanked him for his kind words. He then told me that he wanted to thank me by giving me a present, and he proceeded to give me a key lime pie. Yeah, you read that right, I was given pastry as a recognition of success.

He then handed me an apple pie to give to another teacher, Rebecca. The thing was, this pie was in fact half-eaten. I looked at it awkwardly, and I was vry unsure as to the best method of giving her this pie as a way of saying thank you. Eventually, I cornered Rebecca in the school chapel and gave her the pie and said "You know that this is for", only to wake up confused, and a little hungry.

The next dream, however, is far odder. See, in my dream I was stuck on the island featured in the show Lost, with all of the characters on the show. Now, in the dream we were going to confront the "Moster" which has been a staple on the show since the firt season. After peering beyong a door, we figured out that it was going to be there, and we figured out that it would be a dragon or something else equally frightening. When we barged into the room, we found something more terrifing than any fire-brething lizard.

We found a home and garden show.


After taking a seat, we listened to the leader of this show, talk, and many people chanted back, in a zealous manner. The leader, then said "It's time for the most important part of this show, the human sacrifice". It was then informed, that everyone would have to write down the names of five people they felt should be sacrificed, and they would end up sacrificing the five people with the most votes.

I scurried around, and seemed to bump into everyone I knew, from Acadia, to Kodiak, to Nipissing, to teaching. A few people from various walks of life came to me, and said that they were going to write my name down, so I wrote down their name to counter it.

After I wrote down the names of four people the worst thing possible happened. I woke up.

I guess I'll never know what happens after the fifth vote was casted. Maybe that is for the best...

Until next time,