As we landed in Laos, I couldn’t help but think what would have happened had I not divorced P in 1979. Just before he died last year he became consul for Laos in the Netherlands; he had lived some years here.  How different things would have been: no Sita, no Tessa, no Faro, no Saffi. I would not have gone here on a business trip, but I would have known this place.  I wouldn’t have minded living here for a bit, but there are no regrets.

I was whisked away from the tiny airport in an elegant van to our boutique hotel. I look out over a temple complex with fantastical roofs.IMG_1842

I joined my colleagues who have already spent 2 weeks here, training staff of rehab centers how to properly prescribe and fit wheelchairs: a physical therapist from the Philippines, a colleague from our Arlington office who looks after the very complicated logistics and an occupational therapist from Israel. The latter is now on her way home, her job done. The three of us will stay. We have done this training and aligning of wheelchair stakeholders together before: twice in the Philippines, in Mongolia and in Cambodia.

It was a nice reunion which we celebrated at a French café. We had quiches and ‘pain de mie’ with Norwegian salmon.  Vientiane is very French; we are in the old French ‘Indochine,’ after all. Government buildings have their Latin script names in French.

Our departing team member got to choose the venue for our farewell dinner. She picked a restaurant already tested and approved, especially for its frozen chili margaritas. It is a social enterprise restaurant, where unlucky kids turned lucky served us a most wonderful meal.

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March 2016
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