No North Star: ThailandNovember 27, 1996
We went for a walk tonight to get a bit of ice cream at the local "supermarket" (a lot less than a 7-11 in small towns in the United States). The air was thick and muggy and choruses of multiple kinds of frogs, crickets and other unidentifiable night sounds surrounded us as we walked down the road. George kept telling us cobra stories as we glided past bushes and open waterways. Occasionally a motorbike or car would make its way past. The full moon rose above the coconut palms and unfamiliar constellations marked the sky. No north star. No big dipper. Was that Orion's belt? We were exactly half-way between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator.
Samantha wondered how anyone could navigate without the steady light of the North Star (which is so important to Alaskans it's even on our flag). George gently told her there are a number of different ways to navigatestars and waves and other signs to be studied.
This followed our discussion of what lies ahead for us. Opportunities, the unfamiliar. Home? A new one? In an old place or a new one? The girls cried with homesickness. The adults are without answers.
Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving, and we sat with our cokes and Singha beers and recited who would have been at our feast tomorrow if we were back home in Alaska. Which dishes we would miss, and who made the best pies. At what point we would start vacuuming and yelling, and how many trips to Carrs Grocery we would make. We concluded that to mark the occasion we would mold our turkey and trimmings in beach sand tomorrow and give out the Thanksgiving stickers Cassidy has been hauling around for two months. Perhaps we could take a trip to the big town nearbyChawangand do a little nosing around.
Whatever we do, it won't be the same.
Next Day, American Thankgiving: And it wasn't. we did nose around Chawang (Yuk! Tourista-ville), and came "home" to our little bungalow, showered after the hot sweaty day, and asked our neighbor (a German woman named Gerlinda who has been living in Nepal) if she'd care to join us for dinner.
The soft warm air caressed us as we sat and listened to the waves lapping the beach, and stars, once again, twinkled overhead. There was no turkey, so our new friends at our little beach-side restaurant fixed chicken in every spicy Thai style you would image with garlic and pepper, with coconut milk and lemon grass, sweet and sour, with rice and with noodles. For dessert we had bananas in warm coconut milk. It was delicious.
We toasted our friends (old and new), family, tradition and new experiences. We were homesick and we were exhilarated. And we realize that we carry our North Star with us.