On Sunday afternoon my stomach wasn’t feeling very great. I had eaten some light foods and then I was lying on my couch. I dozed off for about 20 minutes. I had a dream. A vision. A vision of pizza.

I knew that this vision was a sign that I needed to embark on a quest. A quest for pizza in the Mekong Delta.

There are two towns, each about 60 km away from Long Xuyen, where a person can buy pizza. I choose to go to Can Tho because I’d been there before and knew how to find the pizza place (as a random digression, Can Tho is also a pretty big city; the fifth biggest in Vietnam).

I didn’t have any classes today, so I went out for a slightly late breakfast. Then I went to have the chain on the motorbike adjusted for the trip. My parents recently bought me a subscription to The Week magazine, and one had just arrived so I took it home and read it ravenously for nearly an hour before Sharla was done teaching for the day. Then we decided to go. Learning from my previous trip, I wore a long-sleeved shirt for protection from the sun.

The signs say it’s 60 km to Can Tho, but the road is rather narrow and has very heavy traffic at times. We rolled out of Long Xuyen at about 10:30 a.m. and finally arrived at the pizza place at about noon after several glances at death, usually in the form of a bus passing another vehicle and facing the motorbike head-on.

Sharla and I ate our pizzas on the small balcony of the restaurant. We had a view of the river and also saw lots of tourists walking around in the sun and eating in the restaurant at other tables. When we finished we ordered three more pizzas to take home with us (for Tyler, Steven, and Kerry, who is a fellow volunteer with Tyler and Sharla in the VIA program and happened to be visiting).

The three pizzas actually fit into the little box on the back of my motorbike. And we were off… to the grocery store. We found some Oreos and Starburst, as well as some other things like a toothbrush and deodorant. Also, there were little ice cream cones available at the store which we couldn’t resist.

Finally back on the bike for the return trip which included some crooning by Sharla behind me. The kilometers seemed to be going by slowly as we were both rather uncomfortable after being on the bike for so long. It was wonderful to get back to Long Xuyen, and the others were grateful for the pizzas. And I discovered I had sunburn on my toes, neck, and the backs of my hands.

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Well, as I mentioned before, it’s hot. The sun feels so hot on my skin in the afternoon. And, this semester, the afternoon is when I do all of my teaching. So when I get home from teaching I usually feel exhausted and just want to sit in air-conditioning and not move for some time.

A couple days ago Tyler, Sharla and me took a short trip to a small mountain about 45 minutes or an hour away. I was dreadfully hot and sunny day and getting the motorbikes up the mountain road was a bit of a challenge. But we went up and sweated amongst the big rocks and looked at the incredibly flat land and canals stretching around in all directions. The besides going up and down the mountain, the drive was nice and relaxing. Farmers had recently taken in their rice crop and now were either burning the stalks or preparing to. Sharla kept commenting on the “cute little kids” walking to or from school and clutching onto each other as they walking along the moderately busy road.

However, right when I got back I realized that I just received some pretty significant sunburn on my arms; just filling in my farmers tan I guess.

It’s windy and the sun feels hot nowadays in Long Xuyen. My classes continue to go along pretty smoothly although I teach in the sweltering afternoons.

Last weekend one of my first-year classes invited Tyler, Sharla and I to go with them to a place called Tuc Dup Hill, a place also known as 2 million dollar hill because of the amount of American bombs dropped there during the war. From what I know, An Giang was a relatively peaceful province during the war with America, except for two mountains near the border with Cambodia where the early People’s Committee met. The hill itself seems to be made of giant boulders that are lumped together, and because of this there are all sorts of little crevices to hide in. So we left Long Xuyen at about 5:45 on Sunday morning and drove out there. Luckily it was overcast so the day wasn’t so hot, but climbing and leaping around on rocks in humid weather still made me sweat rivers. It was a lot of fun for all of us and my students had a photographer who worked there take around 100 pictures; two of which are me squeezing through kinda narrow spaces between rocks. We continued to travel around to various places out in the Western part of An Giang, but 2 million dollar hill was by far the most interesting for me. Unfortunately, my students aren’t able to translate much historical stuff, so I’m tentatively planning to go back there with some teacher friends to get more of the history of the place.

This is the dry season. It’s not supposed to rain until sometime in May. There was a storm in the center of Vietnam in December which led to rain during that month which is normally dry. And now. I just don’t get it. Yesterday during a break between classes Tyler and I were sipping on drinks at a cafe and then when we were walking to campus Tyler said something like, “This is weird weather,” and I responded with something like “Yeah, I wonder if it’ll rain or something.” I said this, of course, thinking that it would never happen. But it did. The rain started to pour down when I was teaching. And because the classrooms are all open, this led to me having to raise my voice more than usual for my students to hear me. The tape player was rendered null and void.

Then after class the rain was still coming down. All the students were waiting in the shelter of the building for the rain to stop. I waited for a few minutes, then Tyler was finished and we hung out for a few minutes, and then I couldn’t take it any longer. I’d been teaching for 4 hours and I wanted to go home. I took off my sandels, put the tape recorder in a bag, rolled up my pants. Tyler did the same and we walked off to return the tape player. The little dirt road that leads to campus B where we live turns into a river with a depth of a good 2 feet during heavy rain, so it was nice and deep yesterday.

I don’t understand all this. During the rainy season, it rains for maybe half-an-hour and then stops. Yesterday it rained for several hours without stopping. And this morning I walked by my door and my feet got wet. Water had come under the door. I looked out my window. Yep, it’s been raining now for at least 5 hours this morning. I don’t have to teach today, so I might not leave the house today.

I was thinking today about several things that don’t strike me as unusual anymore because they are so commonplace. Some of them are:

-wearing sandals nearly all the time
-eating with chopsticks every day
-driving a motorbike
-seeing no airplanes in the sky
-having ice in all my drinks
-rarely consuming dairy products
-putting fish sauce, soy sauce and/or chilies on nearly everything I eat
-talking about people loudly when near them because they don’t understand English
-thinking of distances in kilometers
-thinking of amounts in Dong, kilos, etc
-rarely wearing shorts outside of the house
-sleeping under mosquito netting
-eating rice every day
-eating soup with chopsticks (think about it, it’s not logical at first)
-wearing collared shirts all the time

Of course there are many more, but they aren’t coming to me now.

I should write something about the Spring Festival. It is held every year and is sponsored by the department of foreign languages, so all of the performances are in a foreign language, usually English, but some French too. It was an all-night thing too. It started about 7 or thereabouts and went till nearly 11. Tyler was M.C. and it seemed like there was an endless stream of performances; students singing, dancing, fashion shows, plays, etc. I was part of three performances: two songs (“Imagine” and “More than I can say”) and I was also talked into being in the teacher’s fashion show. I told them I would only be a part of the fashion show if I could wear what I wanted. Therefore I showed up wearing cowboy boots, jeans with a hole in them, an orange shirt and sunglasses. It was quite a night and everyone was exhausted at the close of the show.

Recently, a foreign student arrived here. That’s right, a foreign student is now studying here at AGU. His name is Jesse, he’s from Germany and he lives here in the guesthouse with all of us. It seems like quite an advancement for AGU to have a foreign student here. Jesse is here studying IT with several people in the library and I think things are going well so far. I suppose that time will tell though.