“Who will be your first visitor?” asked Julie the day before she headed out to Saigon and then back home to England for Christmas.
“I have no idea,” I told her. I find myself saying that a lot lately. I don’t know a lot about what I will be doing here. Some things that I do know are very limited in scope.
Yesterday Jon and I got up early and went on a day trip. Jon had received an invitation and I was lucky enough to get worked in too. We went and visited a tiny hole in a mountain that was also the head on the Peoples Committee in An Giang Province from 1962-67. We went on this trip with Jon’s friend who invited us, and four VC veterans. I still don’t know how to properly describe the whole situation. We climbed the cement steps up to the tiny hole that was between huge rocks and the oldest person there walked ahead of everyone. Jon translated for me and told me that he said he used to climb the mountain with a 35 kg pack on his back. I found myself gasping for breath and sweating a lot. After going up the mountain and looking around and talking, we went back down. Then it was time for lunch.
This was perhaps the most surreal time of the day. We sat around and ate with some VC veterans. Jon translated some for me and told me some of their experiences. One of them had joined the army in the north in 1968 and then spent six months walking the Ho Chi Minh Trail with a heavy pack on. And we were having lunch with these men. We sat around for hours. They talked, Jon translated some. Every once in a while Jon and I would look at each other and say something like, “I can’t believe this is happening.”