Sunday morning, we were startled by a loud, popping noise that kept repeating itself. Artillery fire? A truck dumping rocks? Then we realized it was Chinese New Year. In my whole life, I have never celebrated it and had no idea that Cambodians did, either. But the fireworks continued through the day and into the night. Andrew and I crawled up the ladder to our roof to watch red and white fireworks exploding in the sky over the casino area. It was like 4th of July in January. Even up to yesterday, people were still lighting fire crackers in the street, which can be quite startling when you're pedaling a bicycle close by!
I also was back at the clinic working this week. Many of our patients whom we've been seeing for several months have been coming back so much improved - especially ones with Grave's Disease, or hyperthyroidism. They come in all shaky with fast heart rates, complaining they can't sleep or work or eat anything. And then they come back smiling and perfectly well. One day at the clinic, we were too busy to go home for lunch, so one of the staff picked us up some fried rice for lunch. I have to admit - there is a lot of Khmer food that I am not a fan of. As I was picking over my rice dotted with bits of vegetables and chicken, it occurred to me that most of the patients we see every day couldn't afford to buy this small $1 dish of fried rice. According to UNICEF, the average Cambodian makes around $1.80 a day. In comparison, the average American makes around $130 a day - quite a difference. It really humbled me to realize that the food I sometimes complain about or lift my nose at is an unaffordable luxury for so many of the people living around me. Those numbers don't seem so abstract when they have faces that you interact with every day.