A few days ago the sound of the guesthouse being destroyed woke me up. The sounds of metal on concrete pierced my sleep. The sounds were shuddering through the whole house, and I was worried that my ceiling would fall on me. I went up to the roof immediately and had a look. Workers were chipping away the top layer of concrete on the roof. Satisfied that the place was not being demolished, I went back to my room. The whole day in the house was rather miserable. The noise just wouldn’t stop, and it was right above my room. This is being done because the room next to mine (formerly Julie’s) has a bad leak when it rains. The noise went on for one day, but the next day when I went for breakfast, I drove a roundabout way because the workers were now throwing the chips of concrete and bricks on the ground, and right over the path were I usually drive. This is all being done when I think there is a more pressing and urgent construction concern: The door to my room has no doorknob, and I can only get in using a trick that we all know well in the guesthouse.

Two days ago was my little brother’s birthday, and I had to call him, and it was great to hear his voice. But then the line was cut and I couldn’t get through again. Talking, ever so briefly, to him made me fall into a contemplative mood and sit around while I should have been sleeping. I’m not sure when I’ll see him again and I can only hope it will be sooner and not later.

Then this morning rolled around. I had been talking to a few friends about coming over to the guesthouse and showing me how to cook something Vietnamese. People started congregating in my room around 10:30, and finally a market expedition of me and two friends drove out. I went with a fellow teacher to find some fish for a dish called sour soup. We parked and walked through the stinking section for fish at the market. Finally he bought two fish for about 2 dollars. Then it was time for vegetables. We made our way slowly through the thronging crowd and found some. We figured we had everything and went back. However, another teacher that didn’t go with us said that we needed more vegetables and went back to the market as others started cooking. I just mostly observed this time, watching a sauce being made from oil and sugar, fish being cut, or peeling some vegetables and trying to help. The teacher who went for vegetables came back with to huge bags of greens and some strange textured, but good tasting cake. Then the pork was done, and the sour soup was nearly finished and we found some rice and it was cooking. But there was an apparently urgent need for pepper and chilies and tamarind. They sent me out and somehow I managed to find everything at a small market. The five of us finally sat down to a huge feast and ate until we were stuffed. And there were plenty of leftovers.

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