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

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wedding Crashers!

(My host sister and her groom)

I went to my host-sisters wedding last weekend. Well, "went" isn't exactly the right term because it was at my house. Here's a description I wrote for one of my friends already:

(Our house, decked out for the wedding.)

(A close up of the door. The English signs are still up!)

My older host sister just got married. Wedding's last two days here, which is one day less than the traditional three days that they used to be so I suppose I should be glad. On Saturday, people and tents and movements all began happening around 6 am. I came downstairs in a towel, and was greeted many sets of eyes belonging to most of the groom's family. "Eee, barong!" or "A foreigner!" I nod my head yes and really just want to have a shower without being stared at. The bathroom's outside and I have to walk in plain view of the road and front yard to get to it. I showered and went back to my room to have my usual breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. The next time I came downstairs, fully dressed, I looked to my right and saw the groom's grandpa in the corner smoking something that didn't quite smell like tobacco. Old people can do whatever they want in this society without anyone giving them a second glance. I like this aspect to a degree. Anyone around 50 or older remembers and survived the Khmer Rouge. I have to try and keep this in mind as many of them have mental health problems and lots of them like groping me. One of the grandmas at the wedding really would not leave my arm alone. The rest of the first day consisted of me chatting with various new people, seeing someone get shocked after what was the beginnings of an electrical fire, sweating, taking pictures, playing some guitar for everyone, and chopping down a few trees out front to help make space for the tents.

(This is where the cooking was done.)

(The wedding bouquet?)

(Yes, those are cigarettes.)

The next morning the music started at 5am. It was blaring! Imagine 20 speakers set to full volume past the point of good sound quality, when the high pitches from the singer's voice become electronic static. I put in earplugs and could hear it clearly, but was so tired that I managed to toss and turn until 8. I endured another early morning exhibition as more and more people had come to the house ostensibly to watch me descend the stairs... There were many ceremonies on the second day, seemingly just for the sake of having ceremonies. Two people were hired to walk everyone through the ceremonies and no one seemed to know what to do

until they were told. We pretended to cut the hair of the bride and groom, we tied pieces of red string to their wrists, and sat through the chanting of monks again (as we'd done the day before). There was a break and I went to try and nap but the music, constant since 5am did not allow me any such convenience, so I read trying to regain some sense of sanity.

The reception was the last part. I walked around with a bucket of ice filling peoples glasses because it's always nice to have something to do. Later my host-dad held my hand and led me around as the "trophy foreigner" and introduced me to whoever he wanted. The hand holding I'm pretty used to at this point. I still have my boundaries though. I'm not proud of this, but as the people I sat with got more drunk and people began to get in my face and grab my arm, I took to saying slightly offensive things in English. I used a lot of slang. I said things with a smile. What a strange contradiction. My patience has increased exponentially after being here, but I still have my limits. Two nights of not enough sleep and solely interacting in another language for hours on end...I don't know, it's hard sometimes.

Eventually, came the dancing. I have never danced as strangely as I do here. I mix their style, with my own goofy style, and just let loose. It's not pretty, but I have a good time. The dancing lasted until around 11 when a fight broke out. I saw a kid get belted in the head. Everyone got upset, the music stopped, it was sad that this happened at a wedding where everyone was having fun. The police showed up with AKs and my host dad told me to go to bed. I didn't need to be told twice.

Extra pictures:

(Chocolate from Aunt Chelle, Uncle Joe, Josh, Luke, and Kayla, totally melted, but still delicious!)

(This is chicken drying in the sun. I live on the second floor. I have one neighbor up there. She didn't put the chicken there. It's kind of a mystery.)

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