Our plans changed about seventeen or eighteen times, right until they got in the taxi from Phnom Penh to come up here at seven AM. Somehow we were all able to eke out about 36 hours between frenetic work schedules, so a few dear friends visited Battambang overnight to celebrate a birthday. On three motos (one brand new!), a group of six of us went to visit K’s family. We met her mother, who was thankfully wearing a top this time. (I didn’t mind her bare chest the first time I met her, but I thought it might embarrass my friend’s German boyfriend.)
Her parents took us to the rice fields that they are leasing for the first time this year. We tried to help, but mostly ended up dragging our feet through thick sticky mud, while the kids ran ahead on tiptoes, so they would not crush the newly planted stalks. There’s no way for me to explain to my Khmer friends how beautiful the rice fields are to me. My suburban hometown is charming in its own way, but no antique barn or riverbank can compare to the shocking green of the rice paddies.
We returned to the house to eat fruit together, which K’s family would hardly touch – they were embarrassed to eat in front of us, so we had a few rambutan each and then got back on our motos.
We raced the rainstorm home along winding roads through more fields, villages, markets, and temples. Waiting for us were our dancers, our beautiful dancers, who blessed S for her birthday and helped us eat an amazing chocolate cake. Beauty all around us.