Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dear Penelope

Forgive the delay in my letter writing. It has been many days since I’ve been near a place in which to post them. So I’ll try to send as many as I can from here.

Many days ago, it was- a warm night in Saigon. I put on my black linen pants that I’d gotten tailored in Hanoi. And my new blue t-shirt that hugged my form. After a little insistence on my part the hotel helped to procure me a xe om (say-ohm/hug the) driver to pick up Cathy from the airport. He still overcharged me but only by .50c or so. I shrugged. I had wanted to give him more, but since he decided to take a little bit as it was- nevermind. It felt lovely though to have the wind in my hair and to glance up to see the lights and the moon overhead. And obviously just a dash thrilling to have no control as the driver got used to my weight at the turns and that if I scooted too far back the motorbike would start making that exhhh, exhhh sound of one complaining loudly about the load. Sleepy but sound cath joined me and after a few like, are you serious?! Looks at the taxi attendants grabbing taxis for people willing to bribe them we got a taxi and made it into the city.

The day brought brutally hot weather. So we took a lot of café breaks. I was most excited to dive into some eating of delicious things but cath disavows eating if overhot and if it’s dark? I don’t know. We persevered and had some spring rolls, and I tried beef with vermicelli noodles as well as a chicken salad, and then bananas with coconut for dessert. There was pointless wandering in there somewhere, or “exploring” as we call it, almost melting, dragging, down some beautiful alleyways of course, which led us eventually to a spa oasis called glow, which was delightful. And then a mediocre dinner- highs and lows on this our first day together. The second day it was a long drive up into cat tien- which was as a forest goes a little disappointing in it’s completely dry scrubby state. Sure we came during dry season, so we didn’t have to wade through areas with leeches or contend with swarms of mosquitos and the cries of the cicadas were only marginally noisy opposed to deafening- so it made what could be somewhat adventurous wandering into slightly mundane especially as the 2nd day brought walk ways laden with everywhichway volcanic rock as we heard signs of monkeys and birds but didn’t see any. On the way up though our guide Nam showed us rubber tree crops, and pulled over to have us taste the fruit of the cashew. And over dinner he told a cautionary tale about an older woman drinking too much coffee and having a heart attack. After I had ordered my 2nd cup... Explaining since I was young, I could do that. (and yes, of course the woman died and they had to break down the door to get her).

Meanwhile we took a night drive on a hunt for tigers? Probably not- but maybe elephants? Or uh? I don’t know what. We saw deer, a boar, and a small jungle kitty cat. It’s like the thing they do out here to make you feel your out “exploring” the wilds of nature but in a noisy car, on a dusty road out in the wide open hopefully away – far away from danger. The only upside- the beautiful breeze, the calm moonlit night and the smattering of dreamy dusty stars – of being somewhere other, having journeyed out and beyond.

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