Traveling Home: The Cambodia Saga

This is the last post of The Cambodia Saga

We arrived back in Phnom Penh and did a temporary camp out in Green Pastures Inn. It was only a few hours until the Hamilton’s flight but it was adequate to make another trip to the Russian Market. On the way we stopped at Alma Cafe for lunch. Alma is Mexican fare and the tortilla soup I had was spicy good.

The Russian market was cooler this day. What were people looking for? An odd assortment of aged cow bells, cassava flour, cashews, peppercorns, T-shirts, and a Go Pro selfie stick were just a few of the items. Every trip I learn a bunch of new things. This time I got educated on durian, which you’ve already heard about, and peppercorns. Both are major crops in the province we visited and I was curious to have some of the pepper. I guess I also learned about the selfie stick (which I might never want to have, yeah, probably never). We walked back to the guest house and I had fun taking pictures of Street 450 where we stayed.

And to think that I saw it on 450 Street...
And to think that I saw it on 450 Street… (notice the wiring)
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and the protected construction site, complete with signage…
Behind each gate a private world exists...
Behind each gate a private world exists…
for those wealthy enough to have a  house and a car...
for those wealthy enough to have a house and a car…
Make it beautiful if you can...
Make it beautiful if you can…
but don't worry about it if you can't.
but don’t worry about it if you can’t.
throw in a cell tower once in a while...
throw in a cell tower once in a while…
Supposedly, the more privileged live as high above the street as they can get.
Supposedly, the more privileged live as high above the street as they can get.
Our walk ends here...
Our walk ends here…
On our last evening we finally get a look at this one who has been making a lot of noise.
On our last evening we finally get a look at this one who has been making a lot of noise.

After Hamiltons left we still had hours before our flight at 11:00 pm so we tuk tukked to Sorya Mall to tour a grocery store and look for the selfie stick again. Julie had curiosity about the grocery store and how it compared to stores in the U.S. The Lucky Grocery in the mall is not where the average Cambodian shops for food but it was pretty busy this time. Other years the prices have been wickedly high and there have been empty shelves, but this time it was quite well stocked, clean, and attractive. The prices were noticeably lower than other years and lower than at home.

After getting back from shopping we had time to take a quick shower and say goodbyes to a group of the dorm students who stopped by. Some of them followed us to the airport to say goodbye again. Goodbye is a pretty big ritual in these trips. Many of the kids and houseparents from PE 4 and PE 5 were there to see us off and there was much hugging and picture taking, and a fair amount of tears. It takes place outside the main entryway from the parking lot. Although this is a very dear time for us, we have often thought it might be easier for all concerned if it were shorter. It is always a late departure time and some always come by tuk tuk and moto – we worry about them. It is also exhausting and emotional. That can’t be helped. We were somewhat relieved to find out that everyone left when we entered the building instead of waiting another half hour to watch us go up the elevator to the departure level. Good move.

A literal layover in Seoul, Incheon airport.
A literal layover in Seoul, Incheon airport.
St. Johns River and Jacksonville's harbor in sight as we circled, and circled, and circled...
St. Johns River and Jacksonville’s harbor in sight as we circled, and circled, and circled…

The flight home was pretty much a backward replay of the flight over. The long section was only 13 hours instead of 14 because of a different trajectory across the Atlantic. We slept, we ate, we slept and ate again. We walked what seemed like miles to get to Customs in Atlanta. Our last flight to Jacksonville kept us in the air longer than expected due to a storm over the airport. We finally landed after doing circles over the ocean for half an hour. How good it is to be back in this country. In some ways I can understand the things people say about Americans, because there are differences in the people that give a different flavor to our country. Not all of that flavor is good, but most of it is. There is a craziness and a casual acceptance of unusual behavior that is fun to watch. Glad to be here.

A to Z Challenge: The Letter D

D is for Departure: Another Family Story

A friend of my daughter, a thirty something business associate, lost her mother last week. In an email to my daughter she said “go call your mother, now”, and that’s why I got a nice, long chat with my eldest girl. I couldn’t help but think how blessed I was, at 60 something, to have my mother and dad visiting me for the past month. I went and gave my mom a hug and a good chat as well.

And this morning in the dark I drove the parents to the airport and watched them depart to their flight. Departures. Whole lists of flights going to everywhere. I wanted to go with them because their carry-ons were really heavy and Dad’s shoulder isn’t good. I wanted to be there to help hold things, find things, zip the zippers, turn off the devices, settle them in. But sometimes departure means you don’t get to go. Then there’s that final glimpse as the tram doors close.  I have that fleeting thought “what if something happens and I never see them again?”.  No one else thinks morbid things like that, right?

Back at home I have to look at the places where they sat at the table, the closet where their clothes were hanging. I have to change the bedding and put the bedroom back the way it was before they came. The pain of missing them has it’s very vivid moments when I can’t avoid the fact that they’re gone.  It’s a little like rehearsing for the last, big departure we’re all going to experience, not that rehearsing will make it any less sad, or easier – but maybe more familiar. It’s ok to be sad. I’m giving myself permission to miss them, for a while.

Fortunately, departures are only half of what’s on the board at the airport. We get to have arrivals too! If the snow ever melts up north, the husband and I are planning a car trip to Wisconsin to help Mom plant her garden. We’ll take Dad to Walmart to walk the aisles for exercise. We’ll help clean the attic, play us some Mexican Train, look through old letters and work on the memoirs, probably have a picnic and cook hotdogs in my brother’s yard. We’ll enjoy being a family! I am already looking forward to it with anticipation! Now that I think about it, I’m might be rehearsing something there too…  Yep. Just sayin’.