February 8, 2010

Burma Learning Tour: 17 January 2010

Alaina and I were woken by Kay at 630. We went to breakfast and they served us scrambled eggs and toast.
We were supposed to take a bus to a certain point and then walk, but the bus wouldn’t start due to the cold. It was chilly and Alaina and I had gone into town with our sweatshirts on.
We set out on foot and hiked through the town. My pack was heavy already but I packed very lightly. We hiked for about 3 to 4 hours through the hills to a place called the Viewpoint. It was the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen. Everywhere you looked were hills. And they were close – you were right among the hills. The people farmed right on the side of the hill, too. Almost vertical. We ate squash-potato-kyote mash with corn flower tortillas. It was a perfect-sized meal and so good! I want to make it when I get home. 

Then we continued for another three hours. The roads were so dusty. Dust is embedded into the deep pores of my skin.
Along the way we met two girls aged 16 and 17. They had had no education and were in the process of collecting firewood. They had hats and baskets slung over their shoulder. David keeps mentioning how creating wood fire is taking out many forests.
We stopped at a home. There were seven sons and one daughter, in addition to their children plus the grandparents. One of the children was a little dazed and seemed out of it, I think she had mental problems of some sort. They explained that a doctor had given her an overdose. I thought about our health care system and our court system. If that had happened to a child in America – someone would have had to pay for that mishap. In Myanmar, it’s too bad, so sad.
{I noticed that a lot of the children run around without an adult by their side or looking around the corner. It appears that as children navigate the village – the closest  adult will watch over them or shout an order. The parents are involved in other work and can’t follow them around. }
We made it to the village and we had to wash our feet before entering the upstairs of the house, because they had made it spotless for us. Gretchen ran water over my feet and we had a traditional feet washing. David snapped some pictures if they’re good they might be somewhere.
Then I came upstairs and had some tea. It is very clean in this room. Mats are down and our beds are arranged on the floor. Currently, we are all sitting around a group of villagers – one woman is very animated and looks like a natural storyteller. She is very animated. We are all amazed by her. She’s been showing us what she has to sew with – a stapler-like machine Made in China. 
Our guides name is Jimmy. He led us up the mountains all day. He speaks English and he’s 68. He scampers up and down the hills like he’s 25. His wife is an English teacher. His son is Saw Me Mon – something close to that. He’s a tracker, too, and he’s leading us tomorrow. He’s 23. 
After the meeting in the house – we all went for a tour of the village. We walked along and the children followed us wherever we went. Young novice monks that go to the Monastic school followed us around, too. About three of them. We took a group picture on the steps of this building.

Then Aubrey went and got her futbol/volleyball ball – and we tossed the ball around with the kids. Some ran away when you tossed it to them. Others caught it and tossed it around. Soon we had a small group of kids tossing the ball with the four youngest girls. They are just like other kids. Their faces are sticky and dust clings to it, so that matted black goo is sticking to their cheeks. 

Some kids are pushing around these contraptions to carry water. Two kids raced them around but the smaller one was younger and didn’t have water in his bucket. 

We played with the children til 5 of 6. And then we had to say Ta-Ta. We had dinner on the floor around small tables. Alaina, Sherry, Turner, and I were situated around one. We had soup first – we have soup with every meal. Then French fries (which was odd), fried pork, and five dishes and a plate of rice. I think I got so full because I drank a lot of water today. The four of us talked for awhile. Now, Alaina and I are writing as a rowdy game of UNO takes place by candlelight at the next table. Moe is playing.
W:1 S:2
In the Palong village we saw them growing this pointy stuff and Moe explained that the Gov’t told the people to grow it. The leader had a dream that if they grew it the Lady wouldn’t come into power, and they would use the plant for Biodiesel fuel. Then they had another dream that if they grew it and made biodiesel The Lady would come into power. So, they don’t want it, but it’s still everywhere. 
That night I watched the stars with a group of people. I have never seen so many stars in my whole life. I've been home for two weeks now, and I looked at the stars last night and they were so underwhelming. The Burmese night sky takes your breath away. It's so hard to describe to people at home, but it's exciting and new and there are SO many stars. Tiny and sparkling against the black sky. I miss it. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello Katie, you've made so much effort in writing it. I didn't even know some of the facts you mentioned above. It's amazing how you describe completely and lively.
    It's a tragic story about a girl becoz of overdose by a doctor as they said. It happened more and more cases per year as there is little development in law enforcement against misconduct of doctors in Burma. Perhaps that will happen in near future.