It all started with a whimsical stirrer

I had the best cup of iced coffee of my life on Saturday. It came in a tall glass with a little condensed milk, ice, and an extremely whimsical stirrer (like something you’d find at TJ Max in the forsaken housewares section in the middle of winter when iced coffee and tea spoons are not top of mind). The delightful flavor of the coffee shown through the ice, the sweet, and the whimsy. It was sophisticated, substantial, and nutty. I was hooked. I enthusiastically told the purveyor of said iced coffee that it was the best I had ever had. “Where is the coffee from?”, I asked. “Here” he said. “Can someone take me?” “Yes.” And suddenly I was on the back of a moto buzzing down red clay roads of Cambodia feeling great and so fortunate that I got a glimpse of the deep folds towards the very edges and there wasn’t a commemorative tee shirt or laminated menu in site. Moments from this day are my new happy place. If I could have underscored the whole thing, it’d have been with this song.

Wana (this is the phonetic spelling) my coffee purveyor and impromptu tour guide, and I had conversations in broken English, but I wondered if he somehow saw my LinkedIn profile or something because he nailed it. He couldn’t have possibly taken me to stuff that was more perfect for me to see. I love coffee. I love seeing where industrial materials are born and processed. I love cooking. I love ramshackle wooden houses with inspired paint jobs. I love the wind in my hair.

The pictures tell the story, but we zoomed amidst: a grove of rubber trees being bled into earthenware bowls, a field of the most delightful and fragrant pepper that some very lucky people who come eat at my house will benefit from in the near future, a village with some of the most destitute and generous people I have ever met (there seems to be a positive correlation of the people who have the least insisting on giving the most), baby pigs (I ask you, is there really anything cuter besides maybe baby elephants??), waterfalls, wooden houses on stilts, a religious ceremony in a mountaintop pagoda, a reminder that teenagers are teenagers everywhere, and finally the least interrupted vista of trees I have ever seen. The Cambodians call it the Sea of Trees. Wana might have taken a few backpackers there because he asked me incredulously, “Don’t you want to jump in air???”, to which I answered “Not particularly”, to which he didn’t understand, to which we both laughed nervously because we reached an impasse in our ability to communicate. So I gave up and did it.

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