There is an ebb and flow to village life, a daily rhythm and routine. This last weekend, two very tall, foreign girls stepped into the current to live the village life for a few days in western Cambodia.
We did some things well: we slept on the floor of our friend’s simple wooden house under a mosquito net with the music of a wedding ceremony nearby to accompany our dreams and the early morning chanting of the monks over the loud speaker to serve as our alarm clock. We walked down dirt roads, sat and talked with aunts and uncles and learned the proper name of what we had previously only known as stir-fried vegetables.
But we did not know how to bathe properly. The wash room at our friend’s house was a water pump and a bucket in the front yard. Since this pump is only a few feet from the road, in view of anyone that might pass by, the first day we did our bathing with our clothes on. It seemed to work for us, but our new friends stared in wonder and whispered to one another. “They only washed their arms and legs and faces”, one girl exclaimed to her sister. You see, the proper way is with a sarong or two wrapped around you to provide enough modesty while still allowing for proper cleansing. A neighbor was located who had an outhouse with a water supply so that the foreigners would bathe in privacy. “You must be clean!” they said. By the next morning the story had spread several villages away.
Apparently we have much still to learn.