Notwithstanding an oppressively scorching sun and aggressively swerving drivers; despite being pelted by long plumes of exhaust fumes and the smell of burning trash everywhere, I nevertheless set out on a 20-30 minute trek nearly every weekday to Emergency. In fact, sometimes I complete the entire round-trip on foot. Because of the small size and layout of the city, I only have to choose which of 2 parallel roads to walk – because both lead to the surgical centre’s gates.
Admittedly, I may be deemed loopy for partaking in this daily pollution-filled sortie, because I could easily pay a motodbup 1500 riels (just shy of 50 cents) to scoot me over there – and often I do. But, aside from the exercise component (necessary no matter what the weather), I yield to a state of mind in which I can focus on the upcoming task(s) at hand.
I ask myself, for example, what do I want to bring to my experience on the wards today? What kind of activities and games could I suggest to Lida, so that we might bring a few more smiles into the kids’ lives while they recuperate? And every time I step through the back gates (reserved for visitors and employees), I am grateful to be walking upright into a place where I might not have ever walked into again.
Then again, I am perpetually intrigued by the sights I see along the way. And, to my constant amazement, each time I walk these roads, I am greeted by a new face, a rowdy kid, a passed-out dog, a loud wedding, a dubious-looking thing.
Here’s just a smidgen of what’s recently caught my attention: