Carli and I are taking a short time-out that I am not sure either of us can afford. Yet it is always good for a father to spend time with his daughter. We spent most of day travelling, arriving at our hotel in total darkness. The scene was surreal, as if I was on set with Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now Redux. There was an absence of discernable noise, torches and candles provided the lighting, and people appeared to come and go from the shadows.
As we crashed, Carli asked the question I wanted answered. What does it look like outside? Where are we? Do we have a view? In the darkness, other than torches burning in the paddy fields, it was hard to have any idea of the answer.
With the morning’s dawn, I found myself in a different scene yet still part of a surreal setting. The gray dawn gave way to the swirling brown waters of the Mekong River at the heart of the Golden Triangle. Laos appeared to emerge from the mist, innocent, almost silent, and apparently abandoned. There is probably a thriving village or two nearby, yet in the morning light it was truly desolate, serene, and densely green. There was no hint or visible record of a war ranged four decades ago. All external traces of the opium trade that gave this location its name reside in a museum or two. Everything seems to have moved on. What remains appears to sleep through the morning hours.
Laos reminds me of several different individuals, one being myself. There are tragedies in our past, yet time seems to have washed their memories away. What remains carries on, sleepily ignorant of the bigger questions. Everything is focused on the crisis at hand. To the outsider, it is as if we are asleep. “So wake up! Rub the sleep from your eyes! Up on your feet, Jerusalem! You've drunk the cup God handed you, the strong drink of his anger. You drank it down to the last drop, staggered and collapsed, dead-drunk.” (Isaiah 51.17)
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