Salavan is small - even smaller than Phonsavanh. And it feels small - like today, I went for a run in the late afternoon. In some places, it's very ugly - everything is new because the entire city had been destroyed, totally leveled during the war. Other places, the central part of the city and the areas by the Xedone River are nicer. Teak houses and meeting halls that were built right after the war.
I started off from behind our staff house/ office, off the road into the bushes. A few moments later, I was on the strip of the old airport - small planes used to land here until Lao Aviation cut off the road. Now, it's a place to fly kites and to play badminton.
I ran to the end and past the house that I plan to rent. A few steps later, I ran into (almost literally) into Dr. K, who owns the house. We talked for a few moments about when they'll have the house fixed up and I can move in. I'm very happy about that, because the nightclub next to the office is not endearing itself to me.
A few more steps and my cell phone rang, so I talked, in Lao, with my friend while all the neighborhood kids gathered around to look at a foreigner talking on a cell phone.
I continued onward, deciding to stop in the market to get a phone card. While there, I meet one of the people from the Dept of Education - haven't seen him for a year at least, but he said that he's seen me running. He told me that our education staff were in town, which I hadn't known.
I left the market before someone else recognized me and stopped at a pharmacy to get some aspirin. The woman at the pharmacy asked me if I lived in Salavan and I started talking about our project; turned out she was Dr. K's wife.
Onward - I passed a house which turned out being R's new house. He's one of education staff and he and the drivers were sitting outside so I had to sit with them for a moment. By now, it was starting to get dark so I left. The last mile of my run was in the dark, which is a little scarey because there are no street lamps and I wasn't sure if someone would run me over or whether I'd end up in a ditch.
The folks who went into Pakxe today returned with Indian food. Yummy - better than frogs or deep fried crickets any day!