Okay, maybe the countryside wasn’t exactly my Cove Creek. I say that now from the comfort of an air conditioned hotel in Siem Reap. Oh, the gratifying AC. That beautiful, heavenly piece of technology.
|My second savior (Jesus, you’re still number one.)
You can even see the heavenly glow it permeates.
Here’s a small journal excerpt from the second to last day in the Countryside:
A lot of the girls are hitting their breaking point. Last night at 9:00, it was 90 degrees outside. Ninety. That’s excluding humidity. We’ve got fans and wonderful food, but even I am struggling a little bit. It’s more that I can’t do anything. Not even write. The humidity literally slows you down to a tenth of your average productivity. Paul told me last night I made a sobbing cry in the middle of my sleep.
I think I helped solidify Paul’s decision… “Oh no, I even broke Jessica!” (even if I was unconscious.) He announced that, because most groups only stay three nights instead of four, we had gotten a good taste of what life here is like, and many of us had writing stems due the following day, he decided that we would be going to the Mother Home Inn a day early. Thank you sweet Jesus. The refreshingly cold lemon menthol washcloths the hotel lobbyist offered each of us as we entered were more gratifying than someone being bailed out of jail. In a sense, we had been bailed, and we were again the following day.
About two kilometers of unforgiving ascension into our 22K hike, it became clear this would take longer than normal. Forever the patient, tactful guide, even Vuttha said, “Yes please, we should probably keep going” when we stopped to rest every ten minutes. After reaching the top, the path plateaued, and we began walking by slash and burn fields, remote villages, and thick jungles. Think Forest Gump in Vietnam. Beautifully vast, scarily unforgiving. Vuttha knew of a truck a few villages down the path that, though there were no guarantees, could probably rescue us. It did. If you know me at all, you know I’d be happy to hike all day long, but I am sensitive to other people’s needs. For them, a twenty-two kilometer hike has the same appeal as someone telling me to hold my breath underwater for three minutes. It’s possible, but nearly impossible. And not breathing is a really scary thing, for the hiker and the submerged. No thank you. Also, as we bounced along the single-lane, two-way potholed road, I realized just how far we still had to go. My body could have done it, but my blood would have been thick with dehydration; I never bring enough water. Whenever I go hiking or traveling from now on, I’m always going to bring a filter.
|One of many rests.|
|Lauren’s not too happy with Vuttha for taking us on this hike!|
|Our rescuing truck! All twelve of us piled in.|