Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mama Audrey's Animal Post

Since Liz posted earlier, she was not aware of the importance of an animal picture at the end of every post. Due to this, here is a whole post dedicated to the animals of Cambodia. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mama Audrey and the Go Girl

Liz Gillispie reporting here for the Polizzotto lab group!

With the patriarch of our lab no longer overseeing the work here in Cambodia, Audrey has been left in control and me as her humble grad servant, I mean student. Despite multiple pieces of equipment getting broken, excessive amounts of water being poured on the floors of the RDI lab, overuse of paper towels, and catching random lab workers clipping their finger nails with our nail clipper from the surface water kit, I'd say Audrey and I have things all under control.

Since all the well sampling and surface sampling has been completed, Audrey and I set out today to collect well water and rain water samples from various homes in the village on a main street that runs parallel to the Mekong.  It was the same road where we collected much of our well samples from before.  As Audrey and I collected the water, Dina, a local Khmi RDI member, talked with someone from each site to see how they used their water, how many people used it, whether they filtered/boiled it, and if anyone ever had stomach issues.  All went smoothly and now Audrey is hard at work preparing to test each sample for fecal bacteria (I'd give the specific names but I can't spell them let alone pronounce them!).

Our lab was able to find some entertainment throughout the sampling process, however, such as watching Audrey attempt to get out of the mud, performing titrations for large gatherings of interested locals, working around the ambitious children who were bold enough to not stop touching our equipment, playing with tree leaves, and from a competition of long jump made my our driver Pon.  We were exhausted by the end of the day and found ourselves completely ready for bed by 7:30 or 8:00 each night.

As our trip comes to end, I think we can all agree that we will truly miss the closeness of the families here and their generosity of welcoming us into their homes.  There was not a day where we weren't greeted with a big smile from Da's Aunt at the local coffee shop or waved at by little children to and from RDI (Da is another Khmi member of RDI).  Audrey and I were also blessed to have the chance to eat dinner with Da's family one night, which turned out to be a huge gathering (a typical evening dinner for them apparently).  I was able to sit next to Da's grandfather, Grandpa Da, which was completely the highlight of my trip.  That man is awesome.  But I digress.  The point is, family is important all around the world and you don't have to be related to be a part of one.  So thanks to all the wonderful people that made us feel at home during our stay here at RDI!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cambodia: Thick Thighs, Big Feet, Swollen Lips, and a (smelly) Rabbit

Hello from Cambodia, I hope all is well. Our first (almost) week is already over, so time is flying by. As soon as we landed, we found out that the old king passed away. Apparently he had been ill for some time, so this was not a huge surprise (and he was 90!). His son has been in power for a few years, so this was not the current king.

Since the king passed away, all of Cambodia went into mourning. This meant that the lab was closed on our first sampling day which put us a day behind. The past few days have been really hectic trying to catch up on lost time, but after some long days in the field and nights in the lab, we are now mostly done with all of the well sampling. Next week we will be surface water sampling and collecting water for fecal indicator bacteria.

The 'wet' season is not so wet this year and river and wetland water levels are much lower than last year.  Luckily the government has declared that the wet season will extend until December this year.  Thanks.

A few other things happened while away:

-Liz and Audrey's room was a nesting ground for a large spider and cockroach. Matt had to keep coming in to shoo them away, but they kept coming back. In the end, Audrey's dirty socks got placed in some of the holes in the ceiling to capture these creatures, but unfortunately they got out. Audrey's socks are still in the ceiling holes.
-Liz got a high five from a kid after Audrey got groped by one.
-Audrey accidentally ordered Milo (iced chocolate milk) instead of coffee one international incident almost occurred as Matt suffered through caffeine withdrawal
-There's not much space in the van due to all the thick thighs, big feet, swollen lips, and a (smelly) rabbit

(you know Audrey had to post her favorite animals of Cambodia. Shown here is a little dog named Pupsy)