Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Every day is a winding road

Lesson learned today:

Raid does not kill maggots.

Monday, May 11, 2009

On the road again

I know, cliche title but couldn't resist it as I will be spending at least ten hours in a mini bus tomorrow. This week marks holiday # 3,432,233 and # 3,432,234 of my time in Cambodia. Just kidding. But really, it will be my 20th and 21st official holiday.

And what, you may ask, is the occasion. Tomorrow, in addition to being the birthday of my awesome sister, is also Royal Plow Day. This event is somewhat similar to groundhog's day but with oxen instead of rodent. Three royal oxen plow a symbolic circle in front of the National Museum and are then offered seven bowls of water, rice, corn, sesame seed, beans, grass and rice wine. Whatever the oxen eat is the crop that will prosper in the coming year.

Royal Plow Day precedes a three day holiday for the King's Birthday. Rather than stick around and watch the oxen plow, I am headed off to Mondulkiri, an eastern province bordering Vietnam. I am looking forward to beautiful water falls and elephant rides. However, I am not so excited about the bus ride, which could become tricky if it rains.

Besides literally being on the road to Mondulkiri, I find myself on the road in a more figurative way too. Though I have two months left in Cambodia, I can feel the pull of transition at my heel, like the current when you wade into a river. At night, I dream of being in U.S. amoung family and friends, either shocked to be there or nagged by the feeling that I should still be in Cambodia. I wake up startled but releaved to be in my wooden house and listen to the whir of the fan and the sounds of the neighborhood.

I wonder who I will be after this experience. My identity here is built on being an expat, an NGO worker, a mission personnel, a friend to those I have met in Cambodia. I am still who I was when I left, a daughter, a girlfriend, a sister, a friend. I am also totally different. People are always encouraging you to take the road less traveled. But no one tells you what to do after that. Guess that's the point.