The Last Guesthouse in Laos

“Same history,” Javiera says as soon as we step off the boat. “Find place for sleep, find place for eat.” I’m with her and Christian in Muang Khua, a small village in the north of Laos. We find a guesthouse that has pink blankets with Snoopy cartoons on them and a bathroom that seems a little too wet.

Javiera and I go to find something to eat, and Christian wanders off by himself. We cross a very long and very rickety bridge, and at the other side of it there is a young girl who holds out her hand to us. “I am a pen?” She asks uncertainly.

Tomorrow we’ll take a bus into Vietnam. We get our favorite sour soup, fried bamboo and sticky rice, one last time. We run into Christian again a couple of hours later. “I don’t know why,” he says, “but I bought this can of tuna.” The three of us laugh for 10 minutes, doubled over by the brown Nam Ou river. “It seems like a good thing to have!” He turns the can over in his hands.

Back at the guesthouse, there are strange banging noises coming from the kitchen and then a cat starts screaming. “What is going on here,” I say. Javiera says, “what is the name in English for the place where they sell cat meat?” “A cattery!” Christian answers, and then Javiera starts talking about house meat, by which she means horse meat. We try to hang out on the porch but a huge crazy bug keeps flying into our faces, and we finally decide to just go to bed, without taking a shower in the wet bathroom. It is a perfect last day in Laos.

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