I am playing hide-and-seek with the rain. I am hiding in what is fast becoming a constant in my Sunday routine: Java Cafe, where I can savor a proper Italian, but wholly American-priced, cappuccino, reliable internet, and a fennel and poppy seed baguette.
Today is July 4th, a day usually spent watching fireworks displays with a barbecued-something in hand. And, in various parts of Phnom Penh and in equally varied ways, celebrations are slated. Despite the comical allure of a very American celebration at the US Embassy (think: grilling hot dogs and hamburgers on the US Embassy lawn with an American quartet singing in the background, or so I've been promised), I passed, opting instead to attend a small get-together, thrown, incidentally, by non-American expats (Canadians or British maybe, I'm not so sure)-- that is, if I can get everything sorted out in time to attend.
Early tomorrow morning, I leave with two colleagues for the Prey Lang forest, via a six hour bumpy bus ride north, a two hour speedboat up the Mekong River, and then another hour or two journey into the deep jungle. My ikat sarong is packed -- I will need it to bathe in a pond -- as is a very safari-looking hat that makes me wince, two bottles of mosquito repellent, a can of sunscreen spray, and my anti-malaria pills. I still have to pack, thoughtfully: I've been cautioned not to wear anything that will "distract" the locals. I will be there for a week to meet, and work with, indigenous communities who have been trained on relevant aspects of Cambodian land law. This should be interesting.
Happy Fourth! See you next week.