Lost in Cambodia

Okay, I’m not lost in Cambodia. But my debit and credit cards are.

If you know me, you know this happens to me. Or really, more accurately, I make this happen. I lose my keys (sometimes even down elevator shafts), my wallet (sometimes in places that get recovered months later), and more than occasionally my mind.

But this time, losing my cards made me momentarily lose my mind.

I had them out to try to book some things for my Vietnam trip. They were on the coffee table. I started doing some work on my computer, ended up leaving to go print some things for the class I’m teaching, came back and did a load of laundry. When I tried to book a taxi for myself and some other gals to go to Sambor Prei Kuk that weekend, I realized I couldn’t find my cards.

I took three hours to tear apart the apartment. Every inch of it. My mattress came off my bed so I could check under the frame. My armoire was emptied. I checked the washing machine, the balcony, the kitchen cabinets, the freezer…. I looked everywhere. Six times.

I slept on it, thinking maybe it would come to me that I had put them somewhere. No dream-inspired insight this time. I tore the apartment apart again in the morning. Still nothing. Time to act as if they’re gone.

Now, if there were a functioning mail system in Cambodia, this would’ve been no problem. I’d have my bank send new ones. There’s no functioning mail system here. I’ve heard stories of things never making it here (even when you have a P.O. box, which is evidently the only way to get anything by mail ever), or never making it out of here when mailing things home. I’ve heard stories of things taking 9 months to get here. I’ve heard nothing that has made me think there’s a way to get new cards here without someone hand-delivering them. (Although a recent conversation made me think it may be possible via other routes — perhaps an experiment for something a bit less important at a later date…)
As luck would have it, the course I’m coordinating/teaching, has a series of guest instructors coming, some of them from the U.S. So here was the plan I decided to put into place, should everyone choose to accept it.

  1. Convince my bank that the gal calling from Cambodia really is me, and that you should mail new cards to an address that I don’t have on file with them.
  2. Convince my brother that the address they should use is his address.
  3. Convince one of the visiting instructors that they should be willing to carry a couple of credit cards to the other side of the world for me.
  4. Now convince my brother that, when he receives the credit cards, that he should quickly send them to said visiting instructor.
  5. Wait until October 7 when she arrives.
  6. In the meantime, convince the guy who’s paying me here to wire my second chunk of payment to me so I can actually access it.
  7. Since he’s not sending it until the end of September, and I’m most certainly going to need money before then, convince my brother (again) that he will need to wire me some cash after I transfer some money to him from my bank account.

Dear. Sweet. Jesus.

But everyone agreed. Without fail, they agreed with a hearty, “No problem, Julie!”

And even when the money wiring became a bit of a pain in the ass on my part (a couple of hours of flitting around the city and eventually being denied because not all four of my names were listed) and likely even more so on my brother’s (this required a return trip to the money wiring place to add in the rest of the names), he still didn’t hesitate for a second.

But before everyone had agreed then completely stepped up, when I was sitting on the couch in the apartment (the ubiquitous rattan couch), I thought for a second, “Well, it’s going to be really hard to get food starting in about a week,” and then I thought about the truth of the situation. My people “back home” continue to support me in ways they probably never could have anticipated. And in a country where I’ve only lived for a couple of months, I’ve been given a support network that makes sure that my needs are met. People I’ve met only weeks or months ago offered to float me cash until things settle a bit. It’s actually pretty damn amazing when you think about it. I didn’t really, for more than a split second, have to think about the possibility of ending up without a meal in my stomach or a roof over my head. 

And, sitting on that couch, I let my sensitive little heart fill with gratitude, thinking of the people back home who support me without question and without fail. Thinking of the new people I’ve met who’ve stepped up as a new support system. Thinking of this daaaaaaaaamn charmed life.

(A huge shout out to the guy we affectionately call “Bubs!” Thanks for everything. Always.)

5 thoughts on “Lost in Cambodia”

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