May 7, 2010


After 60 minutes of swapping computers, exchanging headphones, and trading internet cafes, I finally sat in front of a computer with internet connectivity and a working microphone. All I wanted to do was talk to my mother via Skype. We haven't had many opportunities to Skype since I've been in Cambodia, and I was so frustrated that not one, but two internet cafes could not even string together a working Skype connection.

Nerves frazzled, patience gone, I found myself wiping off tears in the internet cafe while my mother waited on the other end of Skype. While we waited for my composure to return, I felt angry that Cambodia could take this away from me. There are many things that I will sacrifice to live abroad, but communication with my mother is not one of them. My once-a-month phone call to my mother has been consistently corrupted by faulty headphones and rat-gnawed Ethernet cords. And now that I had a connection, I couldn't even speak because of the lump of self-pity in my throat. I'm not really this broken, am I? I thought as I struggled for air in between sobs.

I really hate when I finally get the chance to talk to my mother and all I can do is moan about how many roaches I see in the laundry room or how dreadful the heat rash on my shins is becoming. Surely I could find some redeeming quality to describe to my mother who waited so patiently for me to find a working computer.

In three weeks' time, Cambodia will be just another one of those places I've been, just another blurb on my CV. And while I am counting the days until I get on the plane to Tokyo (and modernity), there are pieces of Cambodia that I am desperate to hang on to: kicking lazily through a sunny work-out at the pool, enjoying the sunset with my students on the balcony, and sharing a dream or a laugh with my Khmer teacher over iced coffee.

My goal for the last two weeks of teaching is to stay healthy, to enjoy the company of the people I've met here, and to belt out at least cheesy love song at Karaoke.