Listen to Pilot Light

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Waiting for the rain

It is getting warm in Cambodia now. The nights still cool down, but the afternoons are often quite hot. I can't tell you exactly how hot it gets, because I have given up on getting information from weather reports. There is no weather station here, and the weather is quite different in the big city where there is one, but take it from a kid who loves the tropics--it does get hot. It won't get cooler until the rains come.

April is the cruelest month according to Thomas Stearns Eliot, the American poet who wanted to be a British poet, and did a fair job of that. In Cambodia, which tried being French for a while, April and May are the hottest months, tempered by, at some point, the advent of the mango rains, which produce the best mangoes in the known world. Good mangoes offset any perceived cruelty in my book. And the mangoes are tasty even now.

A mango tree in March, waiting for April showers

A Cambodian mango, but it tastes international

One of the many things I enjoy about Asia is the fresh food. The produce doesn't look like it was factory made. Oranges come in different sizes and some are mottled. They are flavorful, and that is what counts. Cambodians have an interesting way of talking about some fruit. The Romanized pronounciation for the word for orange is groach bpoasut, which doesn't do much justice to the way it sounds, really, and anyway all you need to say is groach to make your point. When I saw tangerines in the market, I asked my neighbor Nak what they were called. She said groach. When I pointed out that that was the word for oranges, she agreed. So I asked how the heck you could send someone to the market for tangerines and make sure they didn't come back with oranges. She said you say Battambang groach, which means oranges from the province of Battambang. Of course the word for mango is pretty close to the word for monkey, so I am learning to be careful what I ask for.

After the mangoes come the rains. The rains are often heavy to an extent those who haven't been to the tropics can't really imagine, but it is a good time of year. Roads are impassable, tourists go home, and the place is relatively cool and quiet. And wet.