buying a bike, taking the bus

So, I bought a 2nd hand bike from my landlord’s sister. I will take a picture of it soon. It looks like somebody puked tie-dye all over it, it’s a one-speed, chinese, cheap-ass-bike. But it’s nearly new and gets around decently, though the seat really hurts my bum. I tried in vain to find a road bike, the only one I saw was about 3 inches too big for me, and had a seat designed to look like an eagle. I may keep looking. I may also just buy a moto. Then I could actually ride it all the way to the University instead of a 5 minute bike ride  and then a 40 minute bus ride. But actually I like taking the bus. And this morning went pretty smoothly for the first time doing so in a country where I can barely communicate with anyone. The best part about taking the bus?

Sitting next to a monk.

I think all of the folks at the central library were pretty surprised when I actually showed up for work this morning, and manged to get there all by myself. Al though I have to admit some of the past few days on my own has reminded me of my first few days at post in Athiémé, where I didn’t eat anything but bananas for 3 days because I didn’t know how or where to buy food and I was too scared to ask. And I’m constantly afraid I’m paying the yovo price for everything, but I have absolutely no way of knowing, or doing anything about it, so I just try bargaining to the best of my non-Lao-speaking ability. I did eat a good sandwich yesterday though.  It was cucumber, some weird spam-like luncheon meat, hot sauce, and some weird dried stuff that looked like rope fibers but tasted salty and maybe vaguely fishy?

Maybe it’s the events of the past month, this whole whirlwind adventure, my unrequited missed connection love affair, my mom’s surgery, pre-menstrualness, culture shock, I don’t know but I’m feeling a little lonely and miserable. Also a bit useless, I don’t know what I came here to do, or how I can help at the library. I feel really intimidated by what they are asking/expecting from me. I’m not a computer programmer! I hardly know how to catalogue! I can’t read Lao and I don’t even understand what half the people who work in the library do. But I did manage to fix one computer that had a virus today, my first day at work.

They want me to learn how to use this software:

PMB

It’s an open-source Integrated Library Software (ILS), made in France.  Somebody at the French cultural center here is working on translating it into Lao, and so, for some reason I didn’t quite understand, the University Library also had to switch.  I guess this is a good project for me because I am in the unique position of being able to understand all of the user guides and documentation, which are in a strange melange of francais and english.
Anyway, I have to do a lot of trivial things like buy a bike lock, open a bank account, buy some dishes, etc. within the next week that probably don’t seem very interesting, but each represent huge ordeals for me that I’m not really looking forward to. I’m sorry I’m in a bad mood.

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