Myanmar :: Day One
We're checking schedules, print visas, packing luggage, and aligning the stars. This is the one thing I am good at: Flying, security check points, head phones and passports, airports for days, staying hydrated and squirreling away pretzels and peanuts. I'm mediocre, middle of the row with just about everything I do, except this. My heart beats to dings of airline intercom announcements, figuring things out where I don't speak the language is my high of choice, diving humbly into a culture I don't know the breath in my lungs.
I belong here.
Guys. We are in Myanmar.
Formerly Burma, newly open country with a cross of religions like I've never seen, people draped over one another with a hot climate culture I've been craving forever, karma creating normalcies that seem almost utopian under molding apartment buildings ten stories high and Banyan trees that bleed into the concrete, it is more like coming home than visiting somewhere new.
Our hotel is normal, for normal people. We take the stairs instead of the elevator. The heat and humidity permeate everything and my hair is Breakfast Club worthy. Twenty-four hours of flying exhausted and drained, we hit the crisp white linen hard.
In the morning we accidentally flash monks across the street, drink too much coffee, and laugh until we cry. Milk Tea and Pad Thai for breakfast, flora eating away at manmade structures, and Burmese humming through the air. Pagodas reach toward the sky. Gold and white marble literally blinding us, smelling like a swimming pool, with candles and prayers. Bare feet and wild tangles of gold spun together into altars. We are drinking out of coconuts and learning how to say thank you in the local dialect while sweating under the sun.
The ferry terminal is crowded and I can taste the air. Everyone is constantly touching one another, I'm at home here. Kids run around selling quail eggs and nail clippers as music blares from the speakers. Rain clouds give momentary relief from the heat, before clearing away to create a sauna on the deck. Our motorcyclists don't seem discouraged by our skirts, as they are wearing longees, and we climb on back. The wind whips through my soul as we pass through narrow streets framed by jungle, and I believe in magic. Nono's home is something I could only dream of, the hospitality and love overflowing. We wander dirt roads and visit families living on stilts and slats over sewage and flooding. The water has receded, but water still squeezes from the sandbags as we walk on them. Everyone is smiling, I'm smiling, I don't know that I could stop if I wanted to.
I thought maybe it was out of my blood, but it isn't. I belong here. I do this. It is the thing I know best and it is still in the veins, running swiftly. This place is new, but it is also old, familiar, and intimately known. We're in Myanmar.