I feel like any slight tint that my skin has acquired is just going to vanish with my first shower back at home. I’ll watch Kampuchea dance down my metal shower drain alongside my green Suave shower gel. I regret this realization, I regret imagining even for a moment that the end is drawing near, I’ve got a few more days to enjoy and I can’t let those thoughts restrict my swelling capacity in anyway. I just don’t want any parts of it to leave me, all I’ve learned, every tough conversation surrounding access, every conflicting feeling, all my uncomfortable feelings of privilege, and mainly every smile I’ve received as I race down Wat Bo Road on my bike.
I am glad we had this last weekend away together in Ratanakiri, it allowed for a cohabitation of insight, togetherness, uncoiling, and ultimately sray line (Khmer word for Love). We arrived to our spot in the trees. A breath-taking guesthouse of huts gently draped through the jungle trees like curtains. Our days away we spent wandering through a slew of waterfalls, a summery fluorescent lake, and a trivial muddy road as our guide. Each part of the province became surreal to my memory book and me. I snapped it seemed endless pictures; really wishing my snapshots in my mind would never fly away down each greater gushing waterfall.
The last waterfall, which provided a difficult route, was the most spectacular. Once you made it carefully down the rocks you stood out on an alcove of ash colored rocks, and when you sat down you were at the will of the waterfall. The current brought endless droplets, and a pull towards their mother. We all looked up through the madness to an even greater possibility, our gazes were met with the top of waterfall. It was like we could look the waterfall in the eye, meeting its line of sight with pure awe. It was liberating to feel equilibrium with such a massive natural force. I felt lost at where to sustain my gaze, I didn’t want to look away from the falls but I was enjoying equally watching my friends locking eyes with the force. I looked back at the group of people I’d been traveling with for a month and this unsuspecting, but unceasing sense of pride for each of them was pulsing. It was like between each mass of water passing over them I was able to see where we had started. We all had different backgrounds but we had been able to come together, travel together to this moment, a fourteen-hour bus trip, a bumpy van, and a steep step down. We were all here together. We had made it. We all came from different routes, surroundings, and homes but we had found a new home together under that waterfall.
I spent the rest of my time gravitating between the water, the smiles of my friend’s faces, the strength of the falls, and my gratitude to the space. I just felt indebted to this beautiful waterfall and this beautiful country. Thankfully though I’ve realized the more I am here that Kampuchea never really will leave me, even the difficult parts, my skin may return to its normal ghostly pale glow but terracotta Kampuchea shall remain a part of my heart.
Khnom sray line Kampuchea.
I love Cambodia.