28 April 2008

Going, Going.....

It’s my last night in Vietnam. I simply cannot believe that I have been here for two years, nine months. I did spend several months of the past year in the US, so maybe that is why it feels so much shorter.

In the past week I have walked around the neighborhood and said goody-bye to the people I know. There’s the man who pumped up my bike tires every week; the manager of the corner convenience store; the family-owned shop that has delivered my water every single week. All of them were genuinely sorry to hear of my departure. They all wanted to know when I was coming back.

The weather has changed for the better in the past few days. The rains have started a little, which greatly cools things down, cleans out the air, and keeps the skies overcast. It should be clear, though, when I leave for the airport at 6:30 AM tomorrow.

I really don’t need to be at the airport until 11:00, but I have massive amounts of bags and do no want to stand in lines. This is always the worst part of travel for me, trying to get all those bags to the check-in counter. Once they are checked in, I can relax, but until then I am a wreck. Fortunately, a friend has volunteered to go with me tomorrow morning. And the reason we are leaving so early is because the Olympic Torch is arriving just when I am leaving.

Try as I may to find out just what the planned route and timing of the torch-run will be, I still have no idea. Neither do any of my Vietnamese friends. There simply is no news anywhere about any of it other than it gets in tonight and makes the rounds tomorrow.

My hotel room is looking fairly Spartan; bags and bags have gone to charity and my belongings are packed. There are still bits of this and that lying around and I have no idea why I can never get it all done well before the night before a flight. Possibly because leaving a place for good means that you can’t throw things back in a drawer if they don’t fit in a bag. It really is a hideous task and even with all my years of experience, it is no less difficult.

I’ll try to sleep tonight, but I know I won’t. I’ll keep waking up every hour to make sure I haven’t overslept even though I think I have overslept only once in my life. The good part about being in the hotel is that all those strong young men will have to lug my stuff downstairs and into the taxi. And then I’ll have a friend ride in with me to help with the off-load and check-in.

It has been good, but it is time for something different.