I was definitely not prepared for this.
I am embarrassed to admit how unprepared I was… or… I am.
The toilet is broken. I stand there among a group of strangers in my new bedroom as they work to fix it. The shower head just hangs on the wall next to the toilet. No AC. Dust. Dust and dirt everywhere. a thin silt covering everything— re-appearring immediately after you wipe it away. There is a constant, sweaty film over your face and chest at all times accompanied by an equally charming and very persistent upper lip sweat.
Yet we still have soup for lunch. “Its good to eat the soup here in the summer. It keeps you hydrated and replenishes the salt your body is loosing.” But I put too much hot spice in mine, of course, amateur. I suffer through and eat as much as I can bear so as not to look too ignorant. My whole mouth is burning. Even the skin beneath my nose burns. Emi reads me too easy and is very polite. She tries to make me feel better. “Ah, yea, I think I’ve put too much in mine too! It kind of sits at the top, you see? Its easy to skim off.” She says as she uses her spoon to scoop off hot red clusters from her broth.
But there is something very sweet and very charming about this place. It is a beautiful town. It is not intimidating like I thought it would be. I can feel peace and relaxation quietly swirling through the air.
As I was told, the people are very polite. I make an effort to meet eyes and smile and nod to the locals I pass on the street. Most are very responsive with a kind, return of a smile and a quick “Sabaidee”.
I am still a little paralyzed with anxiety. I sat in bed all morning wondering how I would fill my day. Worried to wonder the streets, worried about looking stupid. Its something I am going to have to do. I need to learn to accept that I am a foreigner and I am clueless. Let me embrace it and continue to be open to learn. I won’t learn if I just put my head down and push along through each day. I need to be open, conscious and aware.