I have had that old children's lyric, ´It's raining, it's pouring," running though my head non-stop for over a week now. It may be snowing enough to cause a Chinese-sized national disaster in
I am back in Cao Bang after two cold and rainy weeks in
I do have heat in my office, which makes work bearable. The damp chill is miserable, but I would tolerate it if I had an active job and a warm bed to return to at night. Instead I have a desk job and a damp, chilly room. The small heater makes a world of difference, although I haven't figured out what to do for my toes that freeze underneath my desk while the top of my head roasts snugly under the breeze from the heater.
The other thing that makes life bearable here is tea. Copious, obnoxious amounts of tea. We boil water almost continuously and pour bucketfuls into thermoses that almost immediately gets transferred into cups. I must drink a liter and a half of hot water per day. Green tea, strawberry tea, mint tea, Lipton tea, random herbal tea, you name it. My most exciting find last week in
A proper mug is far more difficult to find in
I am supported in this habit by a new addition to our ADRA family – a new volunteer by the name of Rachael. Rachael hails from the
Rachael was brave enough to accompany me back to Cao Bang in the height of the winter – and is generous enough to insist that Cao Bang is "beautiful" at this most miserable time of year. We have just completed our third full week without sun and I fully anticipate a full two months ahead of dreary, wet darkness. So far we've subjected her to freezing mornings, cold days in the office, miserable wet motorbike rides to various points of town and wearing layers of the same clothes day after day after day.
But she's also getting to see the Cao Bang team in action and at their best right before the Lunar New Year holiday. We've done Vietnamese hot pot for dinner and a karaoke night to welcome new staff. She's learned the glory of a warm scarf, dry feet and a whistling tea kettle. And we're all appreciating having solid windows, walls and a roof over our heads and warm blankets on our beds after a hot shower at night. And someday the clouds will lift enough for her to see the mountains – and then she will know that Cao Bang really is a beautiful place. If you can like it in the rain, you won't help but adore ait in the sunshine.