About an hour outside of Siem Reap, along a long, dusty road are a long row of boats bobbing in a nearby river. They’re worn and ragged a lot like how I’m feeling at the moment. Little do I realize the voyage that awaits me.
For $35 USD two young Cambodian men drive one of these vessels like a bumper car. We travel along a sometimes narrow river scraping everything thing we pass. Surprisingly, no one seems to care… or even notice. At times the river is so shallow that we need a long paddle to push off. The engine looks like part of a lawnmower. Given our pace, it may well be. For 40 minutes we wind thru the village. I watch silently as people go about their daily lives exchanging fish and vegetables, repairing their nets, women tending to children. Eventually we arrive at a large lake where there are floating restaurants, fish and alligator farms.
It’s not the destination that affects me but the people of this village, folks who live intimately and according to Nature’s cycles. During this dry season they live on land but when the monsoons arrive the water level covers the stilts upon which their homes are built. Their boats, which are moored in the front of their homes become their only means of transportation. Can you imagine? Part of the year you live on land, the remainder you live on water.
Speaking to some of these people it’s easy to understand the challenges they face. Even so, they are kind and gracious in every moment that I spend with them. It’s a testament to me about the resilience of the human spirit. I’m humbled and inspired by them. It gives me reason to pause, to examine my life and realize what strength and courage I glean from this unexpected teachers.