April 18, 2010

Catching up with myself

This morning I finally caught up with myself. I carefully unloaded my backpack of stank laundry into the shoddy washing machine, impressed at the small dust cloud that puffed off my clothes. The brilliant red dirt in Mondulkiri left nothing untouched. As I scrubbed and rinsed my once white tennis shoes, I realized how dirty they had become on our treks through the jungle, on the backs of elephants, and through the town. Even after the washer, my clothes came out orange-tinted and stiff with grime. I've decided that most of the clothes I brought here will have a final resting place in Cambodia. Between the sweat, sun, and questionable washing machine, most of my clothes are one adventure away from being rags.

Still processing the Mondulkiri trip, I am happy to have vivid memories and a journal full of thoughts. When I opened my camera on day one of our trip, I realized that somehow the lens had been open since I packed the camera, draining out all my battery. Though I'll never leave home without my charger again, I will admit that not taking pictures with a camera helped me enjoy the views for their own sake. Pictures don't usually do justice to beautiful views anyway. My true regret was not bringing a sketch book—something I will do on all subsequent trips. The box of Mondulkiri coffee is my only souvenir, but the pile of orange laundry and my war zone feet are proof that I emerged from Khmer New Year a little more experienced than before. Pictures or not, I'll never forget the week in Mondulkiri.