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Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Presentation of the Journey

If anyone is interested in hearing me give a first hand account of this incredible trip, you are invited to come do just that!  I will be speaking at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Livermore, CA this next weekend (7/13-7/14).  Anyone and everyone is welcome! Refreshments will be provided. There will be a short photo presentation and a Q/A time at the end where I will do my best to answer whatever questions you have for me (though I may not know all the answers!).

Details:

There will be two opportunities to hear about the trip:
Saturday 7/13 @ 7 PM, and Sunday 7/14 @ 10:30 AM

Our Savior Lutheran Ministries (presentation will be in the Fireside Room)
1385 S Livermore Ave
Livermore, CA 94550

Look forward to seeing you all there!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Home Again

Sorry to everyone who has been following my blog.  The end of the trip got busy with school and service and blogging fell to the way side.  I just wanted to let you all know that I am home safe and back at school in Irvine.  I am still working on more posts reflecting on the latter half of the trip and those will be up eventually.  Stay tuned if you are still interested in more travel stories from Ethiopia, Europe, and South America!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Those Hardest To Love


Preparation for India had me concerned.  Everyone said that it would be extremely difficult and I would be pushed to my limits there both physically and emotionally.  I wondered if all of the preparation was necessary and I thought that excessive concern had the potential to make people more susceptible to emotional trauma.  I thought that everyone was blowing things out of proportion and setting up the team for an explosion of mental breakdowns.  While in many cases my predictions were right, I did find myself tried more than I anticipated.
Rather than the typical tugging on the heart strings that one might expect, I found myself often feeling in the way and frustrated with the fact that I did not have anything useful to do.  Surprisingly, large portion of this uselessness was placed on me by one of the staff at the home, a hired staff member that instills fear into the hearts of any who volunteer at Nirmal Hriday, Mother Teresa’s home for the destitute and dying at Kalighat.  A woman whose petite stature and slight features deceive many into thinking her harmless before she strikes with barrage of berating broken English.
My first interactions with this woman happened on the first day I volunteered.  I had no idea what I was doing and I was looking for ways to make myself useful.  As I was making my way over to the multistage dish washing station to see if I could be any help there, suddenly she grabbed me by the arm and dragged me over to another part of the building where she attempted to instruct me in some task that she apparently wanted me to do.  Unable to understand anything she was saying, I simply nodded and when she was gone, I found another place to make myself useful.  Little did I know this was just the start to a long struggle to please this woman who I dubbed Kim Jong Nun.
The next day I found myself actually doing dishes in the aforesaid dish line.  At Nirmal Hriday, dishes were done progressively in many stages.  A few people scraped excess food and bones into a colander that strains into a bucket and then passes the dishes on to the scrubbers.  When the dishes were scrubbed they went through two phases of rinsing in tile sinks that drain on to the polished concrete floors, plugged only with a rag stuffed in the drainage hole.  After the shiny steel dishes have gone through all these stages, they ended up with me and two German girls who were volunteering for the first time.  We were minding our own business, drying and stacking the newly washed dishes in the designated area, when Kim Jong Nun pounced.  “Just a moment! Just a moment!” she yelled frantically, running at us waving her hands in a gesture indicating we should stop immediately, lest we unintentionally throw off the entire balance of the home and send all of the patients into a frenzy.  At least that is what I imagined would have happened based on how hysteric she was.  When we attempt to continue with our given task, she exasperatedly says “I speaking English! You no understand?!”  Obviously we did not.  We never did find out why we had to wait to dry those dishes.
She did not only preside over dishes though.  Her reign extended over the vast kingdom of laundry as well.  Almost every article of clothing, sheet, and rag is washed every day at Kalighat.  This means that every day there is a strict regimen of tasks that are to be followed to get all of the laundry done which includes a four stage washing process before the sopping garments get hung to dry on the roof.  I decided to use my physicality to haul loads of freshly washed laundry up the many flights of stairs to be sorted and hung and then bring the dried clothes back down to be folded collectively by the patients and volunteers.  I was in a steady routine of making trips up and down the stairs with the baskets and feeling very productive until Kim Jong Nun intervened once again. 
Kristine and Zach were helping me bring some laundry back down to the patients so they could begin folding when we ran into Kim Jong Nun at the bottom of the stairs.  There she is yelling at another volunteer who has just come down with another bundle of clean clothes.  Kim Jong Nun quickly snatched the bundle out of the volunteer’s hands and brusquely came back up the stairs toward the three of us who were frozen in terror of this tyrant.  When she saw us, she scowled, shooed us back upstairs, and gruffly barked some command at us.  We did not even hear what she said since we were so far up the stairs already that the clomping of our running feet drowned out whatever she was trying to convey.  When we reached the roof, we dropped the clothes on the ground in a pile and hid in the jungle of emerald green sheets, cowering in fear of what the repercussions of our actions would be.  Luckily our actions did not anger her as much as the other volunteers and we escaped unscathed.
Kim Jong Nun had very strong views on the volunteers that came through Kalighat.  We were able to see this when a group of unwell volunteers were instructed to fold gauze for bandages, a seemingly simple task that turned out to be quite difficult, at least when supervised by Kim Jong Nun.  Many of the members who were feeling under the weather went to fold gauze in the break room because they were not feeling well enough for other work but they still wanted to be helpful.  Large pieces of gauze were folded over a piece of cardboard that was cut to make perfectly sized bandages.  And when I say perfectly sized, I mean perfectly sized.
  Kim Jong Nun came to check on the progress of the bandage folders and was appalled by the quality of the work.  She quickly pushed aside Christina, one of the German girls, and began dismembering her pile of completed bandages.  Christina and the rest of us looked on helplessly as Kim Jong Nun proceeded to move the fold in the bandage a millimeter over before replacing the bandage in the “good” pile.  Obviously, these bandages would all have to be redone because it would have been catastrophic if the gauze was a millimeter too long.  There was no way the insufficiently large pieces would have gotten the job done.  After the disappointment of failure in such a simple task, many of the volunteers moved on to other jobs at which they will be more likely to succeed.  When all the offenders had left, Kim Jong Nun apparently confided in Kristine that she only likes certain kinds of volunteers.  Chinese, Korean, and Japanese volunteers were the only good ones, though there were some Americans that were not so bad.  She must have added that caveat because she was speaking to an American.
It did not matter what nation a volunteer came from though, they still had trouble communicating with her.  Another regular task at Kalighat is helping distribute pills to the patients.  There is a detailed log book of each patient’s medical needs that Kim Jong Nun flipped through every day to remind herself what pills to pass out to each patient.  After retrieving the medications from the bank of nondescript white bottles with the drug names written on the side, she unloads the handful of pills and says the name of one of the patients who is supposed to receive that dose.  A large majority of the volunteers are only there for the short term so they are not able to build as strong of relationships with the patients.  I was one of those short term volunteers.  When Kim Jong Nun told me the name of the patient I was meant to deliver the dosage too, I obviously had no idea who she was talking about.  When I asked her who that was, she simply repeated the name multiple times until she called over one of the able bodied patients and with great frustration told him to direct me to the patient. 
Looking back, Kim Jong Nun greatly affected my time at Kalighat for better or worse. I now realize the motivation behind her strictness and intensity.  The tight adherence to the rules was for the benefit of the patients.  The patients needed stability in their ever chaotic lives and Kim Jong Nun provided just that.  At times she may have taken her strictness to an extreme level but it was all in love for the patients.  She wanted to make sure that they were cared for in the best way possible.   The volunteers are not the ones who need to be cared for, the patients are.

The Koh Tao Farewell Parade


As we drive on the left side of the one road that runs the length of Koh Tao, it feels as if we are in a going-away parade of sorts.  Piled atop all of our possessions in the back of the pickup-taxi floats, we wave goodbye to all of the friends we have made on this even further escape from our now “normal” lives of travelling the world.  We have just left our scenic, postcard of a beach called Freedom that has been our home for the last week.  We look longingly at the clear blue water that has been corralled by the pincers of palm covered peninsulas to enclose our bay, knowing that soon we will be snapped back into “reality” when we touch down in Kolkata, India.  Freedom Beach is not the only freedom we leave behind, we also leave the freedom from schedules, service, and supervision that we had for this short stint of self- sovereignty.

As we begin our ride to the docks, we drive past Jack, an Irishman who works for Buddha View Travel.  He sits waving at the desk outside his rental shop next to his wife’s restaurant Yin Yang where our group has spent countless sums of baht on Thai dinners, motor bike rentals, and motorbike repair fees.  Jack says he has never seen a group as unlucky as ours. Four out of seven rentals from our group result in crashes that incurred repair fees and medical bills.  He is not mad about dealing with the repairs, only sorry that we had so many injuries and that we were no longer allowed to rent bikes from him after all the crashes.
Just past Buddha View Rentals, we drive past our good friend Adnan, the Turkish scuba instructor who we spent so many mornings with over the course of the week.  He was the only one who could get us to do some semblance of homework during this week of relaxation.  We read our scuba manuals every night in preparation of his class the next morning.  While he was very much our teacher, introducing us to the risks and rewards of diving, he also became our great friend, inviting me to visit him wherever he is in the world in the future to finish my certification and take some free fun dives with him. 

As we pass New Heaven Dive School, we call out to him.  He walks out of the beachfront, open-air shop in his sea foam green fisherman pants that he wore every day, shirtless and barefoot as usual.  He waves to us as we speed off down the bumpy road to the dock.  We wave goodbye to him and the new underwater world he introduced us too.
Our trucks come to the fork in the road and I am happy to see that we will be taking the path to the left.  I know that another one of our friends lives in the leather shop just past the Golden Barbeque Buffet we ate at and I hope to say farewell to him as well.  We were first drawn into his shop by the plethora of leather products we saw hanging outside of his storefront window.
 Always a fan of leather, the Alexs and I went to check out the pricing on his handmade products.  When we took off our shoes and entered his shop, we felt like we had just entered a Rastafarian den of rawhide products.  Leather and denim jackets and pants adorned the wall across from the counter and bar stools where a man in a black tank top with a large turquoise pendant around his neck, a long black pony tail, and scraggly facial hair sat grinning behind the counter.  Little did we know that this man had so many fascinating stories that he made the Dos Equis man look as interesting as Ben Stein.
This man sat framed by the shrine built to the Thai king and Che Guevara poster on the slanted cave-like concrete wall on his left and a doorway shrouded by a green turtle-patterned sarong that led to the back room.  I began to discuss the possibility of a custom belt being made but quickly dismissed the idea when the only long enough piece he had left was dyed black and white in a pattern akin to the animal it once came from.  With that option gone, we began looking at the other offerings he had already made. 
As we looked we engaged in small talk with this spaced-out leather worker.  We discovered that his name is Teek and that he had been on the island for quite a few years.  He offered us some peanuts that he had on a dish on the counter and invited us to sit and talk a while.  Reaching into a hidden compartment, he pulled out a bag of marijuana and proceeded to roll a joint and offer it to us.  Politely declining, he explained that he does “only herbal man, no chemical $&*#.  If people bring chemical in here I tell them ‘Go away!’”  He invited us to have a beer with him so we walked down the street, grabbed a few bottles of Chang and headed back to talk some more.  We talked about our trip for a bit and his life on the island.  When it got late we prepared to head out and he invited us to come back and hang out another time.  We would definitely return.

As the week went on, we made it our routine to go to see Teek in the evenings after dinner.  We would have a beer and talk about all sorts of things.  Teek told us about how the people of Thailand love their king very much.  He told us about his son who lives in France with his mother, his family whom he has not seen in many years, the influence of the mafia on Koh Tao, and many outlandish tales of his past.  He told us that he would take us to his favorite restaurant on the island, which turned out to be one of the most memorable meals of the trip.
We agreed to meet at 7-11, a place he said sold “$%^&*# plastic food,” where he would shuttle us to the restaurant on his motorbike.  While we were waiting outside of the plastic food vendor, lightning flashing in the dark night sky, Teek drove up on his Che-emblazoned MTX and told Bagheera to hop on.  He proceeded to shuttle each of us individually up the steep bumpy hill to the restaurant.  While I was on it he nearly swerved into the ditch on the side of the road but we eventually all made it there.

Teek ordered us some of his favorite Thai dishes and a round of Changs.  He insisted that we eat all of the food, serving us from the platters and his own dish even though he later told us that he had only consumed four Changs and eight joints that day.  Thai hospitality at its finest. 
Even when the food supply began to run low, conversation topics did not.  We sat around the table on our tan, patterned pillows and talked for hours.  Teek told us about his history in Bangkok before he came to Koh Tao.  When he was younger he got into trouble with the law just because he was a nice guy he told us.  “I in jail for two year and no tell anyone,” he recalled.  This jail time was sentenced because he was in possession of a home-made hand gun and two kilograms of marijuana that he was holding for a friend.  Rather than rat his friend out though, he took the jail time for him.  He had not informed any of his family when he went to jail, even his twin brother named Tok (named after the grating sound of the clock their mother heard when giving birth to them: “teek-tok, teek-tok, teek-tok”).  It was during this period of incarceration Teek learned much about freedom.
Teek always talked about freedom and how that was the most important thing in life.  He did not worry about finances or plans for the future, only about being free and living life how he wanted too.  He summed up his philosophy in one short phrase: “You have lot of money but no freedom, #$%&! You have nothing!” 
In the future Teek plans on opening his own self-sustaining camp in the jungle where people can come live off of the land with him for however long they like.  When we asked if he had an email so we could get in contact with him to come visit again he laughed and replied, “#$%& internet!  You have spirit and want to see me, you will find me!”
As we drive past Teek’s shop on the way to the dock, we shout his name hoping that he might hear us.  In a matter of seconds, he comes sprinting out to the road and begins jumping up and down waving his hands in the air.  With this last goodbye, we drive on toward the dock.  Teek was the last friend we are able to see on our departure drive. 
We leave this island more regulated but also more mature, more united, and with more friends.  Autonomy is left behind in favor of organization, order, and over-bearing nuns as we head to Kolkata.  This change of pace will be taken in stride as simply another chapter in the life of a Rounder.  In the words of our friend Teek, “#$%& man, freedom!”


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Day at the Golden Triangle: Expensive


Number of Thai baht in a US dollar:  ฿ 30

Projected all inclusive Golden Triangle excursion cost paid up front: ฿ 1800

Breakfast at 7-11 because we left too early for camp breakfast: ฿ 25

Snack break at 7-11 after a souvenier stop in Chiang Rai: ฿ 10

Boat ride into Donxao, Laos: ฿ 300

Bathroom use before the boat ride: ฿ 2

Entry into Donxao: ฿ 100

Souvenirs, lunch, and critter whiskey shot: ฿ 140

Sending a postcard so I can long a Geocache in Laos to add it to my map: ฿ 60

Fake stamp in the passport because entering Donxao does not warrant a real passport stamp: ฿ 30

Visa into Myanmar (even though discouraged and not planned by our guide): ฿ 500

Haircut and shave from a sarong-wearing Burmese barber with some form of leaf wrapped cinnamon chew: ฿ 40

Myanmar beer: ฿ 60

Gas to fill up our bus once again: ฿ 100

Fine we will incur after overstaying our now shortened 15 day visa by two days: ฿ 1000

Refund given back to each person after we overpaid them by 1200%:a bunch  ฿ 1650

A day of indulging in adventure and bowing to the tourist trap that is the Golden Triangle while trying to find traveler things to do while adding two more countries to the list: Priceless

There are some things money can’t buy.  For everything else, there is cash because not a single place in the Golden Triangle takes Mastercard.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rock the Cat Ba


Coming off of a long week of teaching, building, and travelling all over northern Vietnam, we have a well-deserved break on Halong Bay.  When we first glimpse the bay in the distance, everyone is awe struck.  We are no longer in the midst of rice paddies and skinny multistory concrete buildings.  We look up from our Kindles and other reading devices, wipe the sleep from our eyes and find ourselves in a place like nowhere else on the earth.  We are even more awestruck when we realize that we will get to stay on a boat on the bay for a few days before we head to Thailand.


We find ourselves on our own private boat where we put on a fancy night for the girls and go night fishing directly off the back of the boat.  We gradually make our way to Cat Ba Island, stopping at some of the other sites of Halong Bay.  We see caves and beaches and get to go for a swim and a kayak ride.  When we arrive at Cat Ba we are able to tour the island on bikes before setting into our hotel.  Since we only get to stay for one night, we have to make the most of our time here.  Alex Lange and I plan a great adventure for the next day and turn in after a late night of SHOUT and hanging out.



Suits and sandals for fancy night













The only catch of the night



I plan on waking up at 5 AM to find a geocache with Alex but my alarm is foiled due to the fact that I stayed out a bit too late the night before. Miraculously, I wake up on my own volition at 7 AM anyway and am able to catch breakfast. Note that I am not in the least bit packed or ready to leave at this point in time.


I run into Alex at breakfast and it turns out he knocked on my door and I slept through that too. He went for a swim anyway. Another one of our goals for the day is to rent motorbikes and tour around the island. We find a place and I manage to get a bike for three hours and a half tank of gas for only USD $5. Alex opts to fill his bike up from one of the street vendors who sell liquor bottles full of gas.  We head into the national park and I feel the wind rush through my lack of hair (as I recently had it shaved in Phu Tho by a barber on his porch). After draining the tank about half way, we decide to turn back. We will make it way before our time deadline but we decide to pass off our bikes to some other members of our group so we can actually go hunt for the cache. We pass off our bikes and with my bagged GPS and a little bit of swag, we hitch a ride on the back of Josh’s scooter over to the beach (yes, there were three fully-grown men on one scooter...).

The island in the distance

When we reach the beach it is 10 AM. It is a beautiful day with clear skies and calm waters, the perfect day for a swim. Not being an experienced swimmer, I am mildly wary of the swim but I quickly disregard and sense of worry and dive in. After about 15 minutes of an awkward doggy-side-stroke in Keens and cargo shorts while carrying a GPS, I miraculously make it ashore.

Surprised at the speed and actual accomplishment I have just completed, I turn on my GPS so it can begin to gather signal and walk around in the general direction of the cache. Seeing a cave I wander in to explore, not thinking I am anywhere near the cache. As I look around I see a suspicious looking area and after further inspection, I discover that this is in fact the cache! I let out a roar of victory in celebration of my first FTF and an epic one at that!

When we open the cache, we are dismayed to find that there is no pen inside. We decide to try the most epic way of signing this log to go along with the approach to the cache, the location and the day in general. Taking one of the many jagged rocks from the ground, we attempted to draw enough blood to write in. Unfortunately, we could not get a good enough flow to write in. Next we proceeded on to try squeeze the juices out of a plant to write in but the markings proved too light. Finally we settled on an ink made of dirt and spit which we wrote on to the log with a pointed rock.

After leaving my signature Golden Molar, a CA state quarter, and a surfer smashed penny from Santa Barbara and taking a shell key chain and a very old piece of gum, we swam back just in time to jog back to the hotel, pack up and ship out.  One boat ride and bus drive later and we found ourselves on a plane. Vietnam was just a memory and we were on our way to our next adventure in Thailand.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Battle Wound From Vietnam


It is a hot day at the Phu Tho commune where we had just finished class in the officials’ meeting room.  We have just completed lunch which consisted of many delicious traditional Vietnamese dishes and many bottles of homemade rice wine.  It is customary for the officials to come around to each table and offer a toast to the table with a resounding “Chup su quai!”  Being in the center of the commune where all of the officials work, there are many rounds of toasts.  Luckily the rice wine is clear and I begin cutting my shots with water after about eight, knowing I still have a full day of manual labor ahead of me.  Even with the water shots, at the end of the meal I have taken about 12 shots so as not to be rude as all males are always expected to toast the leaders and I could not fill my glass with water before the next official walked up.  After a short time of lethargy, we are challenged to a game of volleyball against the officials after we finish our day of work.  Having a decent core of the Rhino Slammers intramural-championship-winning team, we jump at the chance to play some “real” competitive volleyball. 
When they initially invited us to play I was skeptical of their skill.  They had seen our interest in their game two days earlier and asked if we wanted to challenge them.  We had dinner reservations so we were not able to that day but we promised that we would come back the next day with a full team ready to play.  Vietnam is not well known as a volleyball powerhouse.  They have not sent a team to the Olympics for either indoor or outdoor volleyball and they are only average in the Southeast Asian Games.  I saw some of our opponents playing earlier and they seemed decent but that was only with a few smaller stature players and they were not even playing the rules tight.  Could they really field a full team of six that could compete with our height?
It turns out that they were able to compete with our height.  The day before we had just lost a game to them.  They managed to pull ahead early and we were unable to stage a comeback before it was too late.  Towards the end I was able to get a serving streak that threw them off but I was unable to bring us home to victory.  This time would be different.  This time we would have a rotation set before the game.  This time we would maximize our individual skills and match up players according to their weaknesses. 
We are directed to the center of the commune where a net had been strung up on the crumbling brick courtyard we had just walked through earlier.  Some of the officials are warming up, barefoot and shirtless.  Doing my best to be “culturally sensitive” and to beat the heat, I immediately join them, losing my already sweat-soaked shirt and clay-covered Keens which are dirtied from a long afternoon of laboring at the health center.
We begin the game with a clank of a rock on the steel standard.  The opponents are quite impressed with our average height (slightly skewed by Alex Lange who was a head taller than any of their players).  Lange is next to me in the line-up, providing a formidable front-row block, which disrupts their offence and instills fear into their hearts.  We can tell that it is a close game only after a boy begins tallying the score on a chalkboard nearby.  The tally marks form a box with a diagonal crossbeam which makes reading the numbers much easier than the traditional American method.
 As Lange and I come down from yet another block attempt, I turn to transition off the net at the same moment as Lange.  His large, bony elbow whips back and with a solid “Crack!” makes contact with my left temple.  Lange, my good friend of 2.5 years, later reveals to me that this was the first time he had seen a look of visible, agonizing pain on my face.  All I can think of in this moment is the realization that I might lose consciousness and I begin to prepare for impact with the brick court.  Luckily, I manage to hold on to the threads of consciousness and it never left me.  Coming out of the almost-fetal position I am in, I quickly shake myself back into reality, ready to play.  As I turn around to my teammates, their looks of awe and horror clue me in to the severity of the collision which must be much more intense than my initial assessment.  I ask if I am bleeding, touching the location of impact and feeling nothing.  A dazed Dana looks at me saying, “You should probably get off of the court…” 
I walk to the sideline, stoic as usual, still completely unaware of the magnitude of my injury.  I reach up to touch my temple for the second or third time and finally the moist, crimson blood appears on my fingertips.  It had taken quite a few seconds for the bleeding to begin but once it has, it is the Red River of O+.  Photos later reveal the extent the bleeding, which resulted in a stream of oxygen-rich, literally blood-red fluid gushing from my temple down to my chin.  If I leave it unchecked, I will surely pass out before the scab stalactites can form on my jawbone.
Those who see my injury are much more worried about it than I am, probably because I am not worried at all and they tend to overreact in general.  Someone quickly smashes a tissue onto the impact zone to try to stop the bleeding, telling me to hold it there and put pressure on it.  I repeatedly remove said compress to show my friends my new souvenir.   I am fervently ushered around the courtyard with no end destination in mind as more and more spectators crowd around to get a closer view.  Someone goes to fetch one of the doctors from the nearby health clinic.  It takes him a while to arrive and as I wait I stand around, showing others the wound, making jokes the whole time.  I am elated that I will have a scar from this trip and especially from Vietnam.  The fact that I received it while locked in a vicious competition against the leaders of the local commune increases my excitement tenfold.  When the doctor finally arrives, he makes a gesture that appears to be shooing me away but I eventually gather to mean “Please, come into my office.” 
This “office” is the same dining/meeting/propogandizing room we had just finished our meal in.  There are still empty Bia Hanoi bottles that recently contained the homemade rice wine strewn about everywhere and a few people are cleaning up left over food and empty shot glasses.  The good doctor directs me to his “examination table” which is actually a table recently cleared of food and rice wine bottles that still have some school supplies that were recently put there at the end opposite me.
The doctor has the same mind-set as I do.  He seems non-phased by the cut and quickly dresses it with hydrogen peroxide, iodine, and a fat roll of gauze.  The bandage makes it look much more serious than it actually is.  The spider webbing of athletic tape he uses to secure the gauze covers half of my forehead.  I am told that the combination of the bandage and my newly shaven head make me look quite intimidating, especially with my default blank stare face looking like more of a scowl than a blank stare. 
With that I am released with a great scar and a great story.  I try to return to the court but the overcautious leadership requires me to refrain.  They suggest I “take it easy” for a while as I need time to “recover.”  Obviously they do not know me very well.  To appease their unwarranted worries, I watch the game unfold from the sidelines.  Unfortunately the game results in another loss. I am disappointed that I was not able to participate in the redemption game with my team although I am happy that I gain a permanent bodily remembrance of one of the most interesting volleyball games of my life.  The story was definitely worth the wound.