Last month a friend suffered from high fever, vomiting, skin rashes, joint pains and extreme fatigue. After getting her test results back from an outpatient visit, her red blood cell count was low and she was admitted to the hospital. Further tests showed that she had an "unspecified viral illness", a common malady here.
|A moving day in Cambodia.|
In the final week of my departure, I had dinner on Saturday night with my noodle seller friend, Ratha, her parents and 2 other friends, a English-speaking brother and sister that help her with the 2 food carts she operates each day and night. We were set up at their evening soup stand location on Norodom, just up the street from my old apartment, which I had just moved out of that afternoon. Traffic whizzed by as the breezes were brisk and cool. We sat around a table filled with river prawns in lemongrass sauce, slices of bony duck and a pizza(my contribution).
|Ratha looking relaxed at an enagement party in Aretkesat across the river|
|Ratha at the temple in Kampong Speu, when I took|
the day off to visit on Buddha's birthday in 2014.
No turning back, buffeted by emotions: Relief, Sadness, Frustration, and Fear.
"What will you miss about Cambodia", the friends ask. It is mixed feelings,
|A surprise going -away party. hosted by the clinical teams of|
my key projects. Dr. Rin,(R) is the lead diabetes doctor.
Dr. Nara(L) is the lead for Women's Health. I raised over
$250,000 for their programs and am so rpoud of them.
I will miss the plants and flowers everywhere, sheets of bright pink bougainvillea spilling off balconies. The sounds and sights of the street vendors: balloons and doughnuts sold from bicycles, push carts of household goods and the line-up of banana leaf-wrapped roasted sticky rice packets. Monks: jammed into a tuk-tuk (monkmobile!) or walking the streets in the morning under their burnt sienna umbrellas, both resplendent and understated in their bright orange robes. One morning in my last week, a brief surge of emotion rocked through me as I heard their chants from a streetside funeral ceremony. The groups with whom I found community: writers, stitchers.and friends. I will miss the smiles of people,who I would often try to engage in traffic: a small wave, or a friendly hello. The spirit houses everywhere, bunches of incense and bananas as those offerings of gratitude. Cheap everything.
|Evening traffic at Independence Monument.|
|Storming the Cyclo in early 2014 with co-conspirator|
Monika. Stitch and Bitch reconnected me with knitting again
and even better, helped me make new friends.
Discussing specs with Monika and Glorianne.
The Sun Sets on the Kingdom
The last week is a blur of tippy tappy typing, deadlines, final connections with friends and colleagues, last meals at favorite places, sleepless nights and a numb adherence to my checklist. My colleagues and a friend join for sunset cruise that I'd organized instead of the hospital's typical expat farewell that is filled with speeches. I am left without words, for if I start speaking my emotions will overpower my ability to speak. I can only suggest a few key messages: change is inevitable- and in change the only thing we can control is ourselves. So focus, learn and grow, have the courage to try new things. Lean to positivity. We watch the small bundles of water hyacinth drift by as the sun is low and red on the horizon.
|With Mr. Vanarith at the Khmer New year Party 2015,|
who joined us asa volunteer for
his first job out of college.
I taught him how to work.
I am leaving during a tumultuous time- for the country and for the organization. It would have been more courageous to stay, but the tremendous pull of the tide toward home is strong and will carry me through a whole new series of unknowns. My international experience over 4 years in southeast Asia was rich, transformative and satisfying.
|Riverfront and the Royal Palace.|
I board a boat this afternoon, crossing the Bass Straits over night. Tomorrow, afternon I will enter the Sangha of Dhamma Pabha, a community on the foothills of Mount Dromedary north of Hobart for 10 days of hard meditative practice-- and a nice hike along the shores of the Tasman Sea.
|Sunset on my departing flight from Cambodia|