Saturday, October 29, 2011

Heatstroke, Nachos, Col. Kurtz

Sell the house.  Sell the car.  Sell the kids.  Find someone else.  Forget it, I'm never coming back. . . 
- Apocalypse Now

           The past few weeks have been jam-packed with school and assignments. My classmates and I have all started to realize that we have been flying through the school year, and, at the time I am writing this, we have already finished the first quarter; which signals the halfway point for half the students here. We have now been here for eight weeks, and only have eight weeks to go until winter vacation....  Now of course I have much longer than that, 30 weeks still to go, so I am not pressed for time as of yet. But, focusing on the day my family arrives to spend the winter break with me, we have one more hump to get over before we finish up the semester, the month of November. It is a big, empty month with no time off, except for one day at thanksgiving. There are no trips to take our minds of school or homework, and we only have a week or so in December of school, so we are going to be pushing hard next month to finish strong.

            Last week, we completed reading our second book in English; Heart of Darkness. And last Friday, we started watching the movie Apocalypse Now, finishing it earlier this week on Monday. I had seen it before, so I thought I knew what to expect. But watching it in the country where it actually took place totally changed my perspective. I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between my journey and the movie, obviously I’m not here to assassinate some colonel up river, but the themes and things Willard said got me thinking. Like when he said; when he was here, all he could think about was going home, but when he was home, all he could think about was getting back into the jungle. And this made me think about what it was actually going to be like for me when I returned home, after nine months away? Will I embrace it? Or will I want to return to the Jungle? I don’t know yet. I think that the movie was much more powerful now to me because I am here and I can actually relate. Hopefully I won’t be moving up river and posting weird entries about snails from my jungle camp, but after 7-8 months here, you never know. . .    Anyway, just food for thought.    

            This past Sunday, I finally refereed my first soccer game here in Ha Noi!  It was crazy-HOT that day and that made it pretty painful to run around for the entire 60-minute game, but I made through the match without passing out, barely. The good news is that I now know the way to the soccer field and didn't repeat any of my taxicab mis-adventures from the past month. I didn’t expect it to be hot, since it had been pretty cloudy and (relatively) cool this month, but not on Sunday. It was hot and the sun was shining. I determined to arrived early, to make sure I had plenty of time to get things figured out, but of course, I arrived too early, and sat around for a while. Soon the teams began to arrive and Paul, the league director, showed up to give me final instructions on the game. Kick-off was scheduled for 1:15, and after a coin-toss and a few handshakes, we were off. It was a U13 boys game, and the game length was one hour. I did fine for most of the first half, but at the end of it I could tell I definitely needed some water. At halftime I got some well needed H2O, and went back out in the blazing sun for half number two. Without a doubt the heat was starting to get to me, and I was moving a little bit slower than I did in the first half. It was painful, but I made it through the half, a little dehydrated, but happy with the game overall.  And did I mention the 90 percent humidity. . . !

            This past week was the end of our first quarter of school, so we had many a test this week, and I had a lot of late nights studying - which made making it to the weekend all the more satisfying. To cap off the week, on Friday it was Mackenzie’s birthday and we were all ready for a party, so we went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate the birthday and let off some steam (if you know what I mean!). The restaurant was owned and operated by a New Joyseyian, go figure. It had all the classics, like nachos and burritos; I narrowed my choices down to a burrito or quesadilla, and went with the quesadilla, because I didn’t want to risk the burrito not being good as I was already planning a return visit to the restaurant. It wasn’t bad, definitely not Santa Barbara quality Mexican food, but after not having any for two months, I’m not complaining. The restaurant even got a cake for the party too, and it was a good cake. After the festivities were over, I headed on home; glad this week of tests was said and done.

          Finally, Jack Creeden, the president of SYA was in town this week. He was here to check in on the program, and see how we were adapting to our new homes for the year. He had already been to SYA China in Beijing, and then came south to Vietnam. He wanted to talk to us individually, and I talked to him for quite a while about the program on Monday. He was here until Thursday morning, and then he headed back to Boston. He said that he really liked my video of our first school trip (scroll down to my next entry to watch the video) and asked if he could publish it on the SYA website. I've heard rumors that SYA may close the Vietnam program next year for lack of funding. I truly hope that doesn't happen.