Thursday, July 4, 2013

Some People and Things I Forgot to Write About

Francoise plays hard-core badminton with a student in front of the school residence.

This morning the Austrian Artists leave on a bus to Dien Bien Phu. I admire their fortitude; they said they really enjoyed the other long-distance VN bus ride with the chickens in the aisle and people sitting on sacks of potatoes. More power to them; I would find it much less fun. Plus, the road to Dien Bien is twisty and turny, and muddy and narrow.

I forgot to tell you about the Austrian Artists . They’re tall, long-wasted short-haired hearty young women. I thought they were a couple until the one with the lip-ring showed me the package she was sending to her girlfriend studying in New Zealand. They turned up last week, having volunteered to paint the café and offices, which they did with great diligence, talent, and good humor. As usual, I was the skeptic, wondering why they’d relocate everyone in the offices, and wary that they’d do what I would do: make a mess, start the job, and not finish it. Instead, they painted murals, refreshed the ones the children had made, and squatted in the street to re-paint the concrete wall in bright yellow with the SOC logo. Plus they were self-aware, kind, and surprisingly funny. One evening I came by the café, and Sabine (‘m going to call her Sabine) said “You missed the Dutch boys painting,” which, when you think about it, is very funny in a stereotypical kind of way. She says they were “dressed funny,” and when I ask what they were wearing, she says, “not much.” Apparently, to protect their clothes -- and their beards, Sabine speculates -- they wore transparent plastic rain ponchos over nothing but boxer briefs.

They were also great company on the walk to Cat Cat. Drily, Sabine wonders how Francoise, the French IT teacher, had managed to get himself out of France and all the way to Sapa. Francoise is a tall, awkward, myopic and googly-eyed Frenchman who teaches the children how to use the computers. He’s irrepressible and totally ingenuous, and the children love him. They all want their pictures made with him, and every time he poses he throws up single or double peace signs. As he climbs up the valley carrying water bottles for everyone in his pack, children circle and cling to him. He lets loose enthusiastic Francophone syllabic utterances from time to time, which I think are “oh, yeah,” or “oh, no.” He lives at the school, and likes to play games with the children after dinner. I have to hand it to Jaya: he would have been a terrible English teacher – on account of not speaking understandable English --, but he’s absolutely marvelous at what she’s assigned him to do. Without revealing his real name, I can say that the children pronounce it something like “EEE—AWN,” like a donkey braying.

You might be interested in a brief Colin update. His hard luck continues. Two days ago, he bit into a Snickers Bar and broke off his front tooth, which he's terribly embarrassed about. People keep suggesting that he go to Thailand for destination dentistry, which they say might take 6 months. Not helpful. 

1 comment:

  1. What is there in a Snickers bar to break a tooth on?!?