The time is coming for me to go home. I’ve spent the last ten months of my life in a country whose population (mostly) lives so far beneath the poverty line, that those of us blessed enough to have been born in a developed nation, cannot comprehend it. In Phnom Penh I am lucky enough to occasionally spy the super rich, sheltered in the air-conditioned heaven of their luxurious Land Cruisers, narrowly missing a land-mine victim or homeless child as they breeze past me on a road barely wide enough for a tuk tuk. If I’m really lucky I’ll get honked at, since – god forbid – I’m using the road as a pedestrian. They are government officials, royalty, or military people, and none of the money they earn is clean.
I’ll be home in almost two weeks, and man, has the time flown by. I can’t believe an entire year has slipped through my fingers so effortlessly. It seems like only yesterday Tyson and I were preparing for this trip. One blink later, and I’m getting ready to come home. With mixed feelings, of course.
I’ve already packed my suitcase once, making sure everything fits – how much room do I have for gifts? I’ve stared vacantly into my piece-meal closet, wondering how I managed to collect such a strange little assortment of clothing. Most of it is second hand. All of it needs a good wash via machine. None of it is wearable until next July. I’ve become so acclimatized to the weather that none of it is wearable at all, until I get used to Canadian temperatures again. 27 degrees? That’s downright cold! And to prove it, I have goosebumps.
We may be lucky enough to live in a clean and shiny part of the world, with west coast wilderness teeming at our doorstep, but spending time in Cambodia gives me little hope for the future of our fragile race. With garbage strewn everywhere, toxic waste dumping endlessly into lakes, and people that just don’t give a damn about the environment, I often find myself wondering how many more generations will survive on a planet we all seem to take for granted.
All in all, this has been an amazing year. I’ve learned so much about culture, volatility and life. I’ve seen things that make me laugh so hard; I’ve seen things that are gut-wrenchingly sad. I’ve learned that you can’t change the world in order to be happy. The world will keep changing on it’s own, for better and for worse, and the only part of it I can alter is my own little corner. I’m ready to go back to my corner of the world, turn off the news, put on a pair of woolly socks, curl up with a cup of fair-trade coffee and be happy knowing how grateful I am for the eye-opening experiences I’ve had. I am a better person for it. And whatever else happens is out of my hands.