with glittering eyes

A journey through Peace Corps: Cambodia

Some Things Stay the Same

Even across cultural borders. Like brother-sister relationships, and how the older sibling ALWAYS has the upper hand (you hear, Patrick?).

After dinner today, my little sister asked if someone could go with her to our aunt’s house to get some medicine. My little sister has been battling a cold lately and my aunt is a nurse so she keeps a stash of supplies at her house in case of emergencies. My aunt lives a few houses away so it isn’t that far, but it’s dark with no surrounding lights at night and my little sister is 9.

My host ma commissioned my brother, who’s 14, to go with her, to heavy grumbling and complaining. He put on his shoes and sighed a louder-than-necessary sigh when my sister said to wait, she needed to put on outside clothes first (she was just in a sarong). He waited for about two seconds before walking out the door.

To which my mom calls, “Noch! Van just left without you!”
And my little sister responds: “That dog, I asked him to wait and go with me, not go first!”

A few seconds later she storms out the door with her flashlight.

A few more seconds pass, and I hear my brother jump out behind a bush: “AAARRRRRRR!”

And my sister’s resounding scream for bloody murder: “AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!”

Followed by sounds of hitting and screaming and crying.

Ah, sibling love.


September 7, 2011 Posted by | Real PCV Life | 1 Comment

Christine’s No-Fail, Slightly Miserable, Look-Sexy-for-Thailand-Wedding Diet

(Did I mention I’m going to a wedding in Thailand in October? My best friend’s cousin is getting married and somehow I lucked into not only getting to go but getting to help with various preparations—like keeping track of vendor expenses and locking down exchange rate prices—and being the on-site coordinator and manning the guestbook/photo booth at the reception. I have a fiery LOVE for weddings and this baller destination wedding is making me have mini wedding-gasms.)

Anyway, back to The Diet.

I wrote a post a few months back about how I was less-than-pleased at my mid-service weight record, and vowed to go on a diet to end all diets.

Well, it’s working. I have lost 12 pounds and counting, and it’s all due to a few lifestyle adjustments I’ll share with everyone.

  1. Move to Cambodia. Or some other developing country where there isn’t an In-N-Out or Five Guys or Sonic or what-have-you at every turn. Because in Cambodia, when you’re hungry, you have nothing to munch on except fruit and the occasional bundle of grass.
  2. Harness ALL of your willpower (and I mean ALL because it is so miserable hot here sometimes) and work out at LEAST once every other day. Go running. Even though it feels like Satan’s asshole outside. On my workout days, I start with a 15-minute jog, then 20 minutes worth of sprints, and then a 15 minute jog back, followed by a few core exercises. On my off days, I bike. Not too leisurely, but not I-want-to-die either.
  3. Carb control. There is a French bread guy that drives around on his moto—I swear he’s following me, taunting me—and I don’t know what he does, but the bread he sells out of his moto is the most divine bread I’ve ever had in my life. My most secret fantasies involve me, naked, surrounded by piles of this bread as far as my eye can see…anyway. I avoid this man like the plague. He usually hangs out during the idle hours at the health center and all the staff gather around and have weekly bread parties and I just want to die because I want to stuff myself full of that bread. I avoid the bread parties. I’ve picked up reading murder mysteries that I can’t put down so I have something that will actually take my mind off things as I’m waiting for 10:30 to roll around and I can run for sweet life away from the bread man. I avoid the sweet bread my host dad brings home from Phnom Penh every once in awhile. I dump half the rice on my plate back into the rice pot during EVERY MEAL. Instead, I eat a shit-ton of the other m’hob (food) on the table. My host ma is really good about cooking at least one vegetable every meal and I devour that like it’s nobody’s business. I’m always full at the end of every meal…but not on rice. And that’s key.
  4. Snack. My meals are disastrously far apart, lunch at 10:30am and dinner at 7:30pm, and so I snack in the afternoon so I don’t end up eating a metric ton of rice at dinner because I’m so famished. My snacks usually consist of a half-papaya (those things are huge! I have yet to work my way up to a whole papaya without getting the feeling that I want to throw up from papaya overdose) or a few controlled bites of pretzel from my secret stash. The other thing I do is put flavored drink packets into my water. That way, I’m drinking water, but it’s flavored, so I fool myself into thinking I’m actually having a snack.
  5. Indulge. Every two weeks or so, I find myself in my provincial town (home of the ridiculously stupid good Rusty’s Ribs) or Phnom Penh. And I indulge the crap out of myself. Just last weekend I had, for brunch, macaroni and cheese and something called Barb’s potatoes (potatoes, onions, garlic, bacon, cheese in a skillet-type serving). For dinner I had fried chicken. In between, I drank copious amounts of alcohol and had a few bites of donut topped with bacon. Today, I had a heaping plate of beef enchiladas fried in butter and bathed in cheese. I simply accept that my food cravings are too strong to ever ignore and eat what I want. The key is to just eat until I’m full. As a poor ass Peace Corps Volunteer, it’s natural to have the “I paid $7 for this breakfast and so help me God I will eat all of it” mentality. Fight it. I eat until I’m full (which is usually about halfway through) and pass the rest to equally hungry and deprived PCVs, so that none of it goes to waste.
  6. Apply to medical school. I am not kidding. That shit will send a few metric tons of stress your way, and you’ll be too occupied looking at student doctor network or writing essays or filling out secondaries or worrying about the state of your life to eat anything.

So, there you have it. My No-Fail, Slightly Miserable, Look-Sexy-for-Thailand-Wedding Diet. I remember when I first asked Joanne, our medical officer, what I could do to slim down. She looked at me as if it were obvious and said, “Just eat less!” I remember glowering at her with my most fiery glower. Turns out, what she meant was “just eat fewer carbs”.

Proceed with caution, dears.

September 3, 2011 Posted by | Girl Stuff, Real PCV Life | 1 Comment