She wasn’t sure how long it had been since she had, had a meal that consisted of more than a bowl of rice and a few vegetables. Volunteering abroad wasn’t quite the experience she had envisioned when she left her job to do meaningful work in a third world country. Blame mainstream media and good journalism for creating the ads and brochures that made her feel that this lifestyle could potentially be glamorous.
It wasn’t that Jayma didn’t enjoy it- she did, more than she could ever explain. There was something that touched her when it came to caring for children in the local villages- how bright they were despite a lack of education. How kind they were despite the fact that they had nothing. The work itself might not be glamorous but those she worked with were beautiful in ways that could never be captured in a sales pitch. Despite it all (and she really hated admitting this to herself as it made her feel like a bit of a failure) she missed the creature comforts of indoor plumbing and electricity. 35 years as a spoiled American had taken its toll (without her notice) long before she’d given up everything to come here. A few weeks at home while she waited for news on her next assignment would be just what the doctor ordered- at which point she would be ready to come back- more than ready.
As she’d sat in the terminal with thousands of other passengers waiting for flights to be called, she couldn’t help but glance at her watch. There was time for a sit down meal if she was quick about it. Settling into a table for two at a Vietnamese restaurant just across from her gate, she’d ordered the only thing on the menu that felt completely safe- pho. Within minutes, a steaming hot bowl had been placed before her and she allowed herself to be consumed by it- closing her eyes and breathing deeply, the tantalizing flavors making her mouth water in anticipation just before she dove in.