Once upon a time, there was a crew of four friends who went on a journey to far-away Kampong Cham.
Marie, Clara, Yann and Raphael (better known to some as Les Frenchies) came from the same medical school in Caen and decided one day that they'd had it with all the camembert, brioche, and apple tarts and flew away on a plane to far-off Cambodia.
Yann was older by a bit, and serious. Marie was level-headed, authentic and had a beautiful smile that surprised you when you didn't expect it. Rafael was energy and craziness -- a marvel on the dancefloor, and Clara was the sparkle, a beauty who looked right at you when you spoke, who loved acting and could tame wild horses.
When they arrived in their new home in Kampong Cham town, they had no idea that just upstairs lived a solitary, shaggy headed American girl and her Cambodian cat. And so, for a full month, the Frenchies lived and worked in the town went about their business, working at the local hospital, meeting cute children, looking out for river dolphins in Kratie; while the girl upstairs went about hers, writing reports, playing with her cat and cooking spicy curry on her two burner stove.
One day, the shaggy headed girl had a visitor, A. Her friend, like her, loved food, so they hatched a plan for an elaborate feast. Since it didn't make sense to have a feast for two, the girl decided to invite her downstairs neighbors up. At eight-o-clock sharp, they knocked politely on the door with cold Angkor beer and Pringles, and so began their friendship.
The Frenchies, the girl, and their friend A had many adventures together -- dancing until dawn on a ship moored in the river, watching a frog fisherman near the abandoned airstrip, eating beef soup and eels, presenting to a room of monks in saffron robes, playing & cooking for a weekend-straight. They got to meet each others' sweethearts and talk a little about dreams. They called the girl ma Jess because she helped them out with some little things, but in exchange she had the time of her life, and an education in key French phrases: "Truc de Oeuf!"
Sadly, Les Frenchies were not to stay forever, and eventually, one-by-one, they hugged her goodbye as they headed off on other adventures. They told ma Jess to come visit in Caen and they would feed her Boeuf Bourguignon and good red wine and teach her more cool things to say in French.
After a trip back to her own country, ma Jess moved into their old flat. Many mornings, when she heads to the kitchen to make her morning coffee, she thinks about Les Frenchies and what they're doing now.