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Friday, January 11, 2008

Cambodia (part 18)

Have you ever seen the movie The Saint with Val Kilmer and Elizabeth Shue? Near the end, she is running from the Russian Mafia, sprinting towards the American Embassy yelling, "I'm an American! I'm an American!" and falls into the strong arms of a tough Marine, safe behind the closed gates of the protective American Embassy.

Yeah.

For us?

Not so much.

P was able to reach the US Embassy. They told us that they were evacuating Cambodia and advised us to leave Cambodia if possible. However, they would not be able to help us.

Thank you and have a nice day.

With 40 people in one house things got pretty close. We had to ration food and drink, as we didn't know how long we'd be stuck. The biggest concern was whether we'd run out of fresh water. We all got sick, mostly the expected third-world travel-related stomach complaints, but when you put 40 people with travel-related stomach complaints into a house with two bathrooms, things can get, well, icky.

Sleeping space was also an issue. The first night a friend and I slept on a bare box spring. After that first night enough blankets were found for everyone. At some point after the first day a brave soul had taken a trip back to our house. One of the men on the team had heart medication that he couldn't do without, and I think they picked up some extra supplies then also.

I spent a lot of my time with P's daughters, playing with them and watching Veggie Tales. We were there for three or four days, and at one point we knew we had to get out of the country but there was no one to help us. There were so many of us that we were divided into smaller groups. We didn't really know how we were going to get out, but the plan was to get to Los Angeles however possible, and then we would contact my college pastor there to regroup.

And each one of P's little girls got to pick one of us to be her escort and protector. I had a little girl named Hannah, and the responsibility of that was enormous.

Finally, it turned out that the Red Cross sent in two planes to evacuate people to Thailand. There weren't going to be any others. The airport had been damaged so there were no commercial flights. No one got priority and we had to buy our tickets. Thankfully, we'd all come armed with cash for our food and utility expenses as well as money for gifts and souvenirs. Since we'd barely been there a week, and most of that was spent in hiding, we had plenty of money.

The Red Cross, or whoever handled the ticket sales, didn't allow us to purchase tickets as a group. Our team leader had to hand over one passport at a time, while we all stayed at P's house and prayed that no one would be left behind.

Miraculously, no one was. Out of the thousands of foreigners wanting to evacuate, our whole team was able to get on one plane.

We went to Bangkok, where P was able to reunite with her husband and girls. We were met by teams of people to debrief us and check us for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

There, we were able to call our family and let them know we were safe. I called my parents, and then Isaac. He told me that he loved me for the first time. And didn't say it again for another three years.

After a couple days in Bangkok, Thailand, we finally flew home. We all flew into Los Angeles. There we were greeted by friends, family...and the media. Being the only person on the team from California, the media there were looking for me.

I was reuniting with my family when suddenly a harsh light was glaring straight into my eyes. It didn't register with me what it was, and I put my hand up to shield my face. Without a word, Isaac walked over to the camera that was being shoved into my face, stepped into its path, and turned his back on it. He simply stood between me and it, arms folded and legs braced apart.

To this day that one action still represents to me all that a man should be.

Plus, it was really, really sexy.

And then about eight months later he broke up with me.

4 comments:

Sheree said...

I've never heard you tell the story in such detail before so this is really cool! I'm waiting for the next installment!

A Stone Gatherer said...

O.K., when does installment 19 come out?! How exciting and scary and why did he break up with you!!!

Happyhome said...

I just found your blog and have apparently missed some pretty exciting stuff in installments 1-17!

Bethany said...

Please, please hurry with the rest of this story...

Your life sounds like a movie!!