Disclaimer: These are my views and do not reflect the views of the Peace Corps.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

He's a lumberjack and he's ok...

Training is still really busy, but we just had a nice weekend off (generally we work on saturdays, and, for some reason, volunteers don't get overtime :) So anywho, the other day I was chopping wood for my host family. I had to beg my host mother to let me do something because she's been practically waiting on me hand and foot since I got here. She agreed to let me chop wood, or so I thought... my Khmer isn't that great yet, but I thought we'd had an agreement. When I got off wood, my host mom wasn't home, so I started chopping wood, in my chroma (it's like a really thin towel that you wrap around your waist) and no shirt (because it's hot), and everything was going fine until a couple of neighbors came over, convinced that I was going to chop off my hand. I explained to them in broken Khmer that I have chopped wood before and that I chop wood in the states... it probably came out more like "I cut already. America. No problem no problem. Good." A crowd was forming. My host uncle came by to show me how Khmer men chop wood. He nearly whacked me in the face with the back of the hatchet during his demonstration. Then Samut So Kahn (my host mother) came home, riding on the back of a moto. Her eyes got huge and she ran over to us yelling what must have been "Stop!" in Khmer. She took the wood from me and told me to go shower. I stubbornly refused and told her that I wanted to finish chopping two more logs. She kept saying no, and I pretended not to understand. There were about ten people from the community standing around at this point and she held up her hands shaking them saying what I can only imagine was something like "crazy barong, i'm washing my hands of this!" (barong literally means french person, but it is the word they use for anyone who looks white) I went to bed that night catching bits of the conversation downstairs, which I assume was about me (not because of some sort of feeling of self importance, but because of cue words like "barong" "chop wood"and occasionally a mispronunciation of my name, i.e. "petter", and listening to my host brother singing "I am soh-ree. I am soh-ree."

*Update: Ironically, the word for stop in Khmer, sounds almost identical to the English word "chop."


  1. Dude Peter. This is off topic but I totally had a dream with you in it the other night and you had hair down to your knees. Please do your best to fulfill this dream while in Cambodia. Sounds like things are fun so far. Miss you here at 50!

  2. Pete! Call me back... my phone was tripping out and I was like WTF who is this calling so I hung up on you...NOOO

  3. Greg, i love your dreams. They always make for a good story. Here, having long hair = being a gangster, i hate to disappoint but it may not become a reality.