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What love can make us do!

CAMBODIA | Sunday, 11 March 2007 | Views [1746]

An unknown little orphan, possibly named Narcissis. This is a photo from last year as none of us have a working camera.

An unknown little orphan, possibly named Narcissis. This is a photo from last year as none of us have a working camera.

Capital cities are always a mixed blessing. Everything you need, is there for a price. But so are a lot of things you don't need. Like pollution. Like extreme destitution. Like roads totally devoid of order. My God, is it only the Westerners that have their eyeballs on stalks at the countless directions all the roads traffic takes? Each ride in a tuk-tuk is a slow but turbulent meander along the ragged edge of head-on, mangling disaster. Each payment for such service is a thank you to a merciful being more powerful than Lady Luck. How could I have toilet issues in such heart pounding everyday life in Phnom Penh?

A reunion with Adam and Gemma was the first order of proceedings there. Said meeting went exactly to plan, and minutes would have been provided had they not been doused in beer, then ripped to pieces to roll spliffs with. Safe to say, my lawyer says, the fun we had before was taken to new heights, and my ribs are still recovering. If laughter is the key to health, I was at my peak then I reckon. My bladder control was second to none.

Our reunion in Phnom Penh was planned to coincide with an introduction to Juana, the lady who runs the orphanage Laurina and I volunteered at last year. An orphanage that owes so much thanks to the amazing fund raising Laurina has done for the kids. Their health and demeanor show that their position in life has been greatly enhanced by Laurina's efforts. Gemma also deserves praise for spending most of her holiday carting around a mass of drawing materials, learning aids, and bubble wands. Juana's joy at receiving such a donation meant the kids would be even more thrilled.

We spent as much time with the kids as what Juana's busy schedule would allow. A particular baby caught Gemma's heart with one malnourished smile, and Juana nearly turned a blind eye to the bulge Gemma's shirt suddenly developed. It would have meant one less poor, innocent mouth to feed, and it would have not have found a love stronger than what Gemma was offering it in that moment. Gemma's desires did not result in action, much to the disappointment of all parties concerned, and we left empty handed, but gladdened by the improvements made and the good Gemma saw from her donation.

Phnom Penh had some nasty heat going on then, in the season accurately and articulately called the hot/dry. No, not Summer. Not hot enough. Or dry enough. Or uncomfortable enough. Add to that, the Cambodians even more modest dress sense. And the resultant guilt at getting around in virtually nothing. And delighting in seeing others so dressed. Add the pollution factor and the semi solidification of the atmosphere. Were you walking or wading down the street? The amount of moisture on your skin would suggest you were, in fact, swimming.

What to do in such weather conditions? Get the flock out of there. And head to a beach. A beach that melted the frost off my balls from volunteering in the Mongolian orphanage. And what did said beach have to greet us with? Big, black clouds. High winds. Raging seas. A room with a view. A guest house manager who seems to be the most knowledgeable person in the entire world, dealing every sort of narcotic known to mankind, and a few soon to be known.

So now that we were at the beach, we didn't even care to be. The weather is so shitty as to confine us to our room. As the food seemed to have done likewise to at least Gemma and I. Stomachs bubbled and rumbled in a manner which would not suggest happy occupants. With some apple cider vinegar I could have sent in the land lord and hi-tailed any squatter not previously invited to the party in tofu burger blowouts. Let's just say, I'm thinking that the trip has been defined by the amazing variety of ailments I have had the pleasure of so far entertaining, and it would seem wrong to finish it any other way. No sane man would wish for that, so I decided to try to make the most of it.

And the highlight of that making-the-most-of-it mindset was watching Adam fill the room with the soap bubbles saved for the kids on the beach. Unfortunately they were more dangerous land sharks than their motodup driving elders, so the bubbles were not blown in vain. And they were the closest experience I had out of water to the mind boggling one I had under water and floating through the bubbles of scuba divers below me. Hours of entertainment ensured.

So even though there has been an extermination of Spanish Inquisition proportions so far, I had saved enough brain cells to safely sacrifice to Dionysius over the remaining week. At the highly inflated price of $6 per bottle of whiskey, I had to curtail the drinking, to keep the daily budget under $10. What an expensive lifestyle, I could see myself getting used to this!

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