Christmas Eve dinner at Siem Reap
The Christmas. The nougat, the polvorones, the lottery, the red-and-white fat man sponsored by Coca Cola, the Magi, the mythical company dinners where there is always someone who blows up the bars and is afraid of what can be said about him Monday and prepare his weak defense ("I think they threw something in my drink"), family dinners where old grudges between brothers-in-law, in-laws and sons-in-law. And the gifts, best of all.
But on two occasions I have not lived all this in the earthly paradise that is La Terreta, Alicante, my house.
Christmas 2003 and 2009 they were very different and I was caught in remote areas of the World carrying with my backpack.
The one I remember most affectionately is that of 2003, in Cambodia.
The temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Rober, Eva - his girlfriend at the time and wife today - and I crossed from Bangkok to Siem Reap on Christmas Eve. An exhausting road trip and goat roads to explore the famous Khmer Empire ruins of Angkor Wat.
Upon arriving at the hotel they took us to, we all called home to be counting the preparations for one of the most familiar nights of the year. Apart from longing for family and friends, what hurts the most is when your mother, on the other side of the line, recites things like this: “Serrano ham, Iberian loin, prawns, pate, Guijuelo sausage, broth of Cooked With Balls… ". You want to die You don't remember the last time you ate one of those things.
The 3 of us hung half depressed and the people of the hotel had to notice it because soon they arrived to tell us that they invited us to an informal dinner That the employees had. There were only 4 tourists staying and we all went.
They put a blanket at the entrance to the hotel and we all sat on the floor. We would be 15 or so. Some spoke English but others just smiled and offered us beer, fish dishes with spices and rice, lots of rice. The people were very nice and, after eating and drinking, some invited us to take us by motorcycle to a nearby disc where they said proudly they played music by Enrique Iglesias.
The 3 of us passed because the pedal that the motorcycle was carrying was a thousand times smaller than the ones that wanted to take us. The Russian - the other tourist - decided to leave and the next morning he was still alive and said he had had a great time.