February 19, 2012

Cambodia: Day 1

Calm. That was my first impression of this country.

The masses with signs waiting for their friends and family were still. Easy. Smiling.

The taxi line was almost silent. A motion to beckon us forward and a second one to advance the next taxi in line. A gentle placement of our bags and firm but gentle closing of the trunk.

The chaos and confusion of an arrival in a foreign land was so diminished. In short, I loved it.

Our taxi driver spoke reasonable English (which is good because neither E2 nor I had a word of Khmer). Quietly, but helpfully, he suggested places to go. Close to the end of the ride, he reiterated that it was important that we visit a few of the sites because we needed to learn about the Kmer Rouge genocide.

It was a sobering moment.

He seemed so young and small and gentle. And, then, I realized, everyone I'd seen had been young: all the people waiting at the airport, all the people in the street (in fairness it was late at night). I had been told that the missing generation from the genocide would be apparent.

But, still, I wasn't prepared. I've never arrived for a vacation and had my first interactions with a local defined by atrocities in their recent history.

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