Saturday, October 29, 2016

Link to Pictures

All of the pictures I've taken can be found by clicking on this DropBox link.  I will upload future pictures to that address.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Good Morning Vietnam.....

After being denied entry into the DRC (for unknown and unexplained reasons) plans changed and I have recently landed in Vietnam.  It has been a few days since I arrived in Da Lat City.  My primary duty is to help the aspirants, brothers and Priests of the local Salesian community improve their listening comprehension, conversational English, reading, and writing skills.  There are numerous high school and university students that come to the center in the evenings who are eager for any opportunity to practice speaking English with an American.
Living quarters of my new home
It has been emphasized to me many times that the community in Da Lat is one big family. They have definitely made me feel at home.  From the beginning I've been treated with the utmost warmth and hospitality.  The city itself is set in the mountains and the surrounding area is an interesting dichotomy of bustling city life and natural wonder.  The rumbling of motorbikes and honking of horns is a constant.  Even though vehicles flood the streets the traffic flows freely.  The only downside seems to be the total disregard for pedestrians and traffic laws.  So for all you Bostonians, it seems forming motorcycle gangs might be the only solution to your traffic woes.  (Please use discretion when making the seasonal transition to snowmobiles.)  The weather feels familiar.  Other than the sporadic torrential downpours it is typical of what you would expect to find late in September on the East Coast or Midwestern United States. 
Street view
Mountain view
The community has limited my workload this first week as I recover from jet-lag and adjust to my new surroundings.  This has given me some freedom to explore my new living quarters and experience some of the local sites with other members of the community.  Inside the gates of the compound there is a church, chapel, a couple of basketball courts and a large soccer field.  It is home to about 50 brothers, Priests and volunteers.  There is a small school offered free of charge for about 100 local children (5-12 yrs old) that are otherwise unable to afford a public education. 

More views...

Hiking with some of the community members, stop at the local Buddist temple

Visit to local flower farmer, friend of one of the brothers
They raise pigs on-site and in the back of the property I found an area housing a number of dogs, including four puppies that resemble my dog as a puppy.  I wondered what the purpose was for having so many dogs.  Would they become guard dogs? Watch dogs?  Vermin catchers?  I sensed the brothers thought it was strange whenever I would go to spend time with the dogs.  Then I realized…

Before coming to Vietnam I talked to the previous SLM and he mentioned that sometimes exotic dishes were served, including dog meat.  My worst fears were confirmed when one of the brothers told me that those dogs being raised in back were likely to be eaten in the future.  He tried to soften the blow by reassuring me that this was only done on very rare occasions.  I was told that this is a common practice in Vietnam, where seemingly nothing goes to waste.  It explains why they thought it was odd that I would pay any particular attention to the dogs.  I guess it would be a lot like watching one of them back home playing with chickens.  They joked that I could keep a puppy in my room.  The question is, would they become suspicious if they all happened to find their way inside?  Here’s to hoping that my new buddies don’t become brunch!  
Seriously, dude?!...Haven't you heard of Turkey?!

I will only post a handful pictures with each entry and upload the remainder in a Dropbox account in case anyone wants access to the full set.  I'll figure out that part a little later.

That’s all for now.  Hopefully there will be time for additional updates in the coming weeks…