Grim about the Mouth.


I’ve been in such a cranky, worn-out mood this week that all my ideas for posts are things like, “Why Won’t the Barfly at the Guesthouse Shut Up, Just Shut Up,” and, “I Think a Mouse or Possibly Even a Rat Has Made Its Home Under My Bed,” and, “Why Can’t They Remember My Coffee Order, I’ve Been Here Five Times Already.”

(Based only on my own experience, I think Khmer coffee drinkers may tend to prefer more sugar and sweet milk than Americans – in part because the coffee here is so bitterly strong.  It usually takes a few weeks for me to wean my own order down to a little bit of condensed milk to cut the coffee, but not enough to turn it a murky tan.)

(The guesthouse barfly isn’t really a guesthouse barfly – he owns a lady bar, although he hastened to assure me that this is not anything like being a pimp.  It is pretty much exactly the same as being a pimp. He has lost the knack of speaking at normal volume, and the habit of not greeting every single person in the room.)

Culture shock is a little bit like typhus that way, or malaria – it waits in the blood, you suffer bouts at intervals.  I have milestones, one month, two months, half a year, one year – each with its own mix of fury and nostalgia.

A lot of the time, it will alternate with a warm sense of belonging and comfort, sort of the way a buzz will precede a hangover.  And then a cockroach will fall out of a tree and onto your shoulder, and the cycle will start over again.


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