It’s raining. Although really, to call what’s going on right now just rain is a serious understatement. The water has been thundering down from onto the roof for about an hour now – like it’s being poured straight out from a giant bucket. Pretty much a daily event this time of year in Phnom Penh. Forget umbrellas, when it comes, you wait it out or prepare to get very very wet. “Mrs. – it is Malaria Season” my Tuk Tuk driver quipped yesterday. Aptly put, that.
I’ve been on the ground in Cambodia for just over 48 hours now. WOW. Just WOW. It is impossible to describe all that is going on in my head and heart right now. This is about as different as one could possibly imagine from my life in North Carolina (found in middle of the East Coast of the US, about 5 hours south of Washington, DC ). Check off Box#1 of “things I hoped for” when I applied for the PULSE program last fall. Phnom Penh is a city of extremes and contradictions…both beautiful and crumbling, great poverty alongside lovely French cafes hidden behind tiny storefronts that give no clue what you’re walking into. Here, what you first think you see is NOT what you get. Which means I will get daily practice in setting aside assumptions – another personal goal for this journey.
I’m here to work with the Malaria Consortium, Cambodia – and it was official as of 10:30 this morning, when I finally arrived at their door. Am learning that a) time is different here, b) Google Maps has some gaps and c) Tuk Tuk drivers might occasionally overstate their navigational skills just a bit. But no matter, timeliness was never one of my strengths, so I should fit right in. Had my formal introduction to the MC staff, their systems and all the required paperwork (it rivals the documentation required at GSK – hard as that is to imagine), and lunch with my new manager. A terrific group, appreciate how welcome they have already made me; so happy to have this chance to join them in the fight against Malaria.