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This is one of a dozen letters I wrote to Stefie in the jungles of Laos, and while she never took me up on my offer to meet in Burma or Nepal, she did inviteme to visit her in Brussels.I arrived in Belgium on a frigid December day, andour relationship imploded almost immediately. The last thing I did upon leaving her apartment for theairport was take back the letters I’d written her from Laos. In a way those letters embarrassed me; I felt like I’d written them to a person who didn’t fully exist outside the naive reveries of my own imagination.

I’d gone to the Na Valley to report for Condé Nast Traveler, and it was my first major magazine assignment. I had just turned 30, and it felt like my life was finally measuring up to my dreams of what it could be. The story did run in Traveler, eventually, and peppered through that 5,000-word feature, “The Hidden Valley,” are many of the details I’d captured for Stefie, and found again when I got my letters back.

Elodie Christophe

Auteur Elodie Christophe

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