Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Our hosts must have had many talents. The dinner they prepared in the primitive setting was superb. Their welcome, both verbally and visually, provided each one with a sense of genuineness and sincerity. But what fascinated me the most was their aura of optimism. It’s altogether quite probable that they swiped the idea from another who also liked it, but the encounter for me was here in the jungle, and I was altogether willing to accept the idea as mine.

The setting was somewhere in Thailand not too far from the Mekong River. We had been transported in the back of a modified farm vehicle to this out-of-the-way place where a farming family provided us with our noonday meal. For the life of me, I could never find the place again as hard as I might try. But fortunately for us, the driver knew his way around and returned us safely to the Golden Triangle.

What cemented the belief of their optimism was found exhibited on a hand-crafted display, sheltered by bamboo poles. There, on the steep side of a slope, several booths had been erected which displayed their art work. But there was one that caught my attention. On it, they were smart enough to include the homeland of many of the tourists that might chance their way, including one that informed me we were 8,387 miles from home. The punchline, however, was found on a yellow plank toward the bottom right that simply read, HAPPINESS – 0 miles.