People have been telling me ever since we arrived that it does cool down here for a couple of months each year. Before the last couple of days, however, I just couldn’t fathom this. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them – I really wanted to. It was more that a clingy, dense, heat was all knew of life in Luang Prabang, and I experienced a total failure of imagination. I just could not conceive of how this place of coconut palms and sunny frangipani flowers and green mountains and dirt roads stirred to swampy puddles by warm tropical downpours could ever get cool enough that you’d want a light cotton scarf, much less a jacket.
The weather changed quite suddenly this weekend. On Friday I was sitting here at the kitchen table under the air conditioner as usual, the town baking and sweating outside. On Saturday it was cool enough to go out a noon without immediately dissolving into a damp sort of sticky. This morning the kitchen door is wide open, and cool air is creeping in and winding around my ankles.
It feels like a miracle.
So that is the miracle unfolding outside the house, for which Mike and I can take absolutely no credit. But there is a miracle unfolding inside our house as well. This place is finally starting to look and feel like a home.
We hung pictures this weekend – which we set out to do weeks ago, only to discover that the walls were made of solid brick and that we would need the assistance of someone with a big drill. Our new pal, David, who is blessed with the spiritual gift of hammer drill, couldn’t come the week after we got back from Cambodia. Then we had to temporarily relocate to Thailand. But this weekend it all came together and two hours of determined drilling saw ten pictures hung.
(I would like it noted that that a pre-requisite to this feat was ten agreements reached about which pieces from our respective art collections to hang, and where to hang them.)
After our morning of picture-conquering we moved on to clearing all the boxes out of the end room. The end room was going to be our guest room. That was before our neighbors decided to moonlight as woodworkers many days. After a meeting with the village council the neighbors have agreed to only use electric power tools three days a month, but they are often out there ham-ham-hammering away and playing Lao radio loudly. Not the best creative working environment for me given that I seem to be about as good at blocking out annoying noise as a beagle is at ignoring interesting smells.
So on Saturday we broke down boxes and moved in bookshelves and desks and set up the new computer and christened it “the office”.
This process was not without completely devoid of tension.
2:32pm: The handle of the scissors I am using to break down boxes snaps in half in my hands.
Lisa: “That was not my fault.”
Mike: “Are you sure? They’re kitchen shears – they’re not meant to be used on boxes.”
Lisa: “Yes, I’m sure. And it’s tape, not concrete.”
Mike: “OK.” (Deep sigh) “I’ll go get the other pair.”
2:36pm: I drop the second pair of scissors on the floor. They break.
Mike: “That wasn’t your fault either, was it sweetheart?”
Lisa: “What sort of lame-ass pair of scissors breaks when you drop it from waist height?”
Lisa: “OK, that pair was my fault. But the first pair wasn’t.”
3:15pm: Mike’s perfectionist tendencies are coming through in his attempt to square the edges of the pile of boxes he is stacking.
Lisa: “Mike! Just put it there. It’s fine.”
Mike: “Have I told you lately how sexy you are when you’re commanding?”
Mike: “That’s because you’re not.”
3:43pm: We plug in the $230.00 printer we bought specifically because we knew we’d be able to get toner cartridges for it in Laos.
Lisa: “Are we sure that can handle the voltage here?”
Mike: (Looking in vain for any information on the back of the printer, which is refurbished, given that these printers are no longer being manufactured by HP) “I can’t see anything, but these things are usually manufactured to handle international standards. Our computers are. The scanner is.”
Lisa: “How much do toner cartridges cost here, anyway?”
Mike: “They’re expensive. More than a hundred dollars.”
Lisa: “A hundred dollars?”
Mike: “Yeah, they have to bring them in from Thailand. You can’t even get them all the time.”
3:47pm: Mike is trying to open the bottom drawer of the printer, which is jammed. Suddenly there is a wet sort of sparkly fizzing sound, a big bang, and black smoke starts pouring of every orifice of the printer. Mike leaps for the cord and pulls it out of the wall then starts waving the smoke away from our brand new computer while I sit there staring, awed by how much smoke one machine can produce, so suddenly. It is like a magic trick. A very expensive magic trick.
Lisa: “I guess that answers the voltage question.”
Mike (taking a deep breath): “Maybe we should stop for the day.”
That makes the tally of electrical equipment we’ve ruined since getting here as follows: three transformers, one fuse on my lymphedema pump, a lamp, several light bulbs, a coffee machine, a hot water heater, and a printer.
On the bright side we haven’t actually started a fire yet, so I reckon we’re still ahead.