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Last night Tom and I went out in search of dinner, and found a place near our hotel that looked authentic enough, had tables outside on the street and a bit of a “breeze” (if you can even call it that). We sat down and were pleased to see a varied menu- while the restaurant called itself a purveyor of “Mexican, Vietnamese, and Chinese” food, nary a taco was on the menu. There were Chinese, Vietnamese, and Italian offerings, however. We ordered our food and drinks, and were soon joined by an Australian man who is, ironically, from the same part of Australia as our friend, Grover. This fact just made for even better conversation.

We traded travel stories and he gave lots of good advice about places to go and see in Vietnam, which was nice as I know that after Tom leaves I’m going to have some more time here and I want to get the most of that time.

While we were enjoying this conversation, a stiff, cool breeze blew through the street. “That feels like rain” I said. Our companion said that we’re only three weeks out from rainy season, so it could, in fact, rain on us.

The rain started slowly enough that while the women who worked in the restaurant put the street-side awning down I could remain seated under it. Everyone agreed that even though we were getting a little wet, the rain felt great.

The rain started to fall harder, and I had to move in towards the restaurant. The street in front of us filled up with water more and more rapidly, and then it happened: cockroaches of all sizes and shapes – mainly the kind as big as my thumb – were forced out of the swelling sewer and into the part of the restaurant directly under our feet.

The women who worked in the restaurant went into high gear, attempting to kill the roaches in the four feet’s worth of sidewalk between the street and the store. At first, there were only a few roaches, and as we pointed them out, one of the three would step on them or swat them with a broken shoe retrieved from somewhere in the restaurant, assumably reserved for this purpose. At one point a big roach scurried across Tom’s foot; they hid next to the legs of our chairs, in the cracks in the sidewalk – wherever they could. One woman brought out bowl after bowl of steaming water to pour over the sidewalk and the seams in the lid of the storm drain – a somewhat futile effort to kill them before the water level in the drain forced them into the sidewalk. It was like the plague!

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At one point two of the women freely stomped their feet all over the wet sidewalk in a kind of “La Cucaracha” dance. “Every soul is sacred!” I cried. We were all laughing and marveling at the wonder of this scene.

The rain and roaches increased to the point that we all had to move inside. The rain in the street had risen so high that the “puddles” on both sides of the street nearly touched.

As the rain slowed down and the puddles retreated, the women were able to start sweeping the roaches back into the sewer. They folded the outside tables and moved them to the side for this cleaning, then promptly set them back up to resume business.

As soon as he could, one of the young men who worked at this restaurant began sweeping the storm water towards the sewer, cleaning the street in front of the restaurant.

This is one of the most memorable nights I’ve had in Asia, by far.

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