March 28, 2013

Santa Barbara Schools - Arrived In Hanoi

March 28th - Hanoi - By Blake

We are back in the big city after four intense, fun-filled days in the sweltering Mekong Delta. There have been so many unforgettable moments on this journey so far that it is hard to keep them all straight. It's safe to say that not many people get to speak with an 84-year-old Viet Cong general in his home and talk about a shared vision for world peace moving forward. Vietnam's version of "Hillbilly Handfishin'" allowed us to catch our own lunch in the mud, and playing highly competitive volleyball against locals was an intense experience. The family vibe at the homestay was so welcoming. The children were painfully cute, and the hospitality we enjoyed was remarkable.

Now we are back to a world with air-conditioned rooms, chaotic street scenes and historic buildings around every corner. Hanoi is slightly smaller than Saigon, and it has a more cultural vibe. The streets are narrow and bustling, the storefronts are many and the rickshaw ride we took through it all provided a front-row seat.

Laura and I sense that some of the kids are in need of a second wind after all these jam-packed days, but we are on the home stretch with a potentially life-changing day on tap tomorrow. We will visit the Peace Village, an orphanage for displaced children and victims of Agent Orange. We have purchased paint and supplies to help refurbish one of their classrooms, and we will might be out of our comfort zones interacting with some severely disabled youngsters. There are bags of toys to bring to them and we are ready to try to produce all the smiles we can.

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