Along the Road in Cambodia


Bus travel has been alright. I mean, there's quite a scene along the roadside. And I often gaze upon people as we pass by. Many sit cross legged in the dirt under trees, hiding from the high sun. Often young men will be naked waste deep in the ditch ponds sifting around for who knows what. Some tend buffalos and cattle in the fields; others sweep leaves from the dirt neath their stilted shacks.

But I wonder about these people -- the lives they live, the memories of their childhoods racing through the dusty fields, and the songs they'd sing to each other. I think of their pain as well, and the labors their hands have seen. Their feet and backs too, in these scorching fields. I'm sure there's a lot riding on their successes.

And as we speed past small villages, so many dirt pathways -- unworn by tractor or motorbike in years it seems. I think of these as just as much. To what lives they lead, and who carved this trail and for what reason. How long did it take that man, with his ax and ho.

When the road turns to dirt, the dust billows out from beneath our big bus and paints the shrubbery all rusty red. It's so dry, you'd think the whole scene would crumble in front of you. It even settles upon the shacks and people, staining their houses and clothes and skin the same arid hot red.

The bus sways and thuds along down the rough red road bringing mountains into view. Deep red scars cut down their sides, through the trees, like veins -- dried up rivers since the monsoons I'd guess. Makes you thirsty just thinking about it. I take a sip of my cold and clean water from the comfy seats of our big shiny bus as we pass by. And the whole thing is a little tough to swallow.