June 26, 2014

First steps

I am riding on the back of a motorcycle, my hair getting tangled by the foggy wind rising from the dusty red road. On my left side, a carriage moved by a bicycle and carrying three people and a dog passes us. On the right, the palms trees sway in the tropical breeze. The air is burning. Siem Reap opens slowly before us and I close my eyes just for a second, trying to make sense of all these new sensations. 
How the hell did I get here ? 
Of course, I remember. I remember leaving home and boarding the longest flight I've ever taken. Following the plane route on the screen in front of me and giving names to the countries unfolding like old maps on the ground. Eastern Europe, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, India, every time I look it's a different world and it feels frustrating not to be able to touch the land below my feet. I try to sleep, but I keep opening the shade to gaze at the color of the sky changing as we go, our plane trying to catch sunrise. 
Then I remember flying over thousands of little painted metal and plastic roofs, landing in Vietnam, running to catch another flight, the heat outside enveloping me like an old fur coat, the kind of family heirloom you wish you could shake off, but it sticks to your skin. And now I'm here. Both feet flying over the dusty road, looking into the rearview mirror to catch a glimpse of a sleep deprived, discheveled girl. Lost is the word. No other. When the feeling gets too overwhelming, I squeeze in my hand the tiny compass hanging from a silver chain around my neck, that a friend gave to me before I left. « So you'll know how to come back », he said. But I have never felt further from coming back. 
The first days here are dazzling, blindingly beautiful, and scorching hot. I am slowly learning to breathe in a hundred percent humidity climate, slowly getting used to the strange and amazing spices. Learning to walk around at my own pace. 
I am writing everyday and will share more soon. For now, here are my first steps in Cambodia.

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