After a restless night that ultimately led to the sit down toilet and I becoming awfully close friends, I woke up feeling mostly just as sick. My nightmares were haunted by the thought of the green banyan leaf churning in my stomach. I couldn’t eat much else besides rice as the sight of anything green heightened my sickness. After saying goodbye to our home stay family, we finally hiked through legitimate green countryside as the path took us past slanted tea leaf fields and a mountainous/hilly stretch in the distance. Unfortunately the greenery was not meant to last as we reached an ash-filled wasteland. As we walked through basically an ongoing fire, I took off my shirt to use as a bandana for my face as the air thickened with a heavy smoke. The smoke grew so strong that seeing became chore as it cut at my innocent, blinded eyes. Despite the discomfort we experienced as we moved quickly into and out of the fire and smoke, it didn’t touch the prolonged duration for that of the villagers. We saw these poor people coughing heavily as the worked over the fields. Tun Tun was visibly angry from what was occurring, knowing full well that the government had not contained the fire since walking through this was never apart of the plan. For a snack break, we ate some cookies that have become part of my diet as I have gotten sick and some Asian style Rice Krispies coated with honey. The fallen had grown steadily in numbers as Tun Tun felt poorly as well throughout the day. It reminded me of the story of the ten little Indians turned ‘And Then There Were None’. As has become ritual, we waved to the children and villagers, who dotted the main street or the occasional patch of green farm land. Eventually the path led to our home stay village Palaung but before entering we found a school of kindergarteners with some of them playing on the given swing set. Kids saw us and excitedly wanted to play by trying to jump on us and get thrown around. Sadly, we had to watch how we played with them according to Tun Tun since their bones are not that strong due to the lack of sufficient calcium they get. Most comical was the pictures taken of the whole event starring Adam. We sat around at the home stay and flipped through his pictures with the kids. He is a fully bearded guy with longish hair and by now he had his shirt off from the wild fire. Combine all that with kids draped all over his body while he sported a creepy, odd grin and you have a solid addition to the Awkward Photo Album. At the home stay we met a kid Tun Tun nicknamed ‘power ranger’, a child with limitless energy, half boy and half monkey. As a further testament to the importance of religion in Burmese culture, a closet sized shrine was attached to the home just like the last home stay, a room filled with buddha images and from what I could tell pictures of the family. Joining me amongst the fallen, Kate couldn’t eat any food as well. Unfortunately we didn’t get to tour this hill centered village but it probably was for the best. I woke up in the middle of the night as Kate passed off the proverbial and literal torch for my turn to throw up. For awhile after, I sat outside feeling sick and napping while a gang of dogs and puppies fought and yelped for a good portion of the night. I more or less acted as the night watchman at my post atop their bamboo thatched deck. Off into the distance a bright red glow shown above the trees, a clear sign of the fire. Luckily, the night beckoned me back to sleep, slightly newer.
Breaking Burma Day 95: Burning Burma