Imagine driving up a mountainside on a dirt road in an old Toyota minivan in a torrential downpour turning the roadway into a muddy slippery slope – and if you then place this scenario in a rural part of Myanmar where you know there is no rescue service available in an accident — we had an exciting journey. We traveled across the river from Bagan into the countryside to visit a temple at the top of the mountain. We survived.
Whether there will be any rescue available for us in the next 4 years in the U.S. is a more complicated question. This was a difficult day for us as for a majority of Americans as we stood in a small village in Myanmar and learned of the election results as they came in. Jack had data which allowed us to learn of the wild swing of projections and with it our hopes.
It is helpful to be here where American politics seem more than a world away. We can soothe our hurts with the balm of beautiful people living with little but a smile on their faces and healthy looking children playing in the dirt around their feet.
This trip took us into a village where everyone was involved in rattan weaving, where whole families sat in small open huts and cut and bent the cane wood into intricate baskets. There was electricity but little else to remind one that this was the 21st century.
Further on was a weaving village with a central communal distribution center where women sat and spun, died and wove cotton cloth used for bedspreads and table cloths. It is rather a course weave and the potato starch we saw them working with made the cloth heavy and thick. Beautiful plaids at a cost of about $5/piece. I wonder how much these women make in one day of weaving.
We visit an ever absorbing market where we always see new things we have never seen before and old friends in a very different setting.
Then the rains came and our trip up the mountain to a large pagoda which is said to have originally held one of Buddha’s teeth. He must have had far more than 32 tooth given how many pagodas in Buddhist countries claim him as the origin of their holy teeth. In the past, getting up here required a very long climb under a covered walkway but now there is a road — tenuously passable in the rains. We are almost the only people at the top platform of the temple and it is beautiful as the clouds clear a bit and the light shines on the golden dome.
We have to be very careful as the porcelain and marble tiles are wet and slippery and we are, of course, barefoot. There is a wide panorama below, with Bagan and its many stupas in the distance. The peace here is palpable and calms our aching hearts.