My birthday this year (on the 27th of October) was one to remember. Though, it wasn’t until I met up with the group at 9:00 am for our morning lessons that I was reminded that it was my birthday. In the afternoon, we walked up to the far end of the island and did our Laos language lesson sitting in the sand on the beach that flanks the Mekong. It was beautiful. We were quick to jump in afterwards. The water was brown and sandy but it felt clean. The current was strong. Laughing and splashing, I could feel the whole group growing closer as we played like kids in the water.
Afterwards (around 5:30 pm), Noah, River, Will and I joined Will’s host family in a volleyball game, something that has become a nightly tradition for the four of us during our time here. It felt nice to just play volleyball with no stakes: a feeling I have not experienced before now, having played competitively in high school. When one of my Laos team mates asked me my age, it felt weird telling them that I was (now) 19.
After eating dinner with my host family (tons of sticky rice!), I biked to the school in the middle of the island where we agreed to make a bonfire. Though I helped gather wood, Will made the fire and it was lovely. Alden played the ukalaylee, and we sung into the night: Van Morrison, The Beatles, Elton John and the like. For the third time that day, the group sang happy birthday to me. I truly think this was one of the most special birthdays I have ever had 🙂