I wake up to the bus stopping. I had actually slept pretty well. I rise up, my entire body is convered with this white fish powder stuff. But I really could care less. I couldn’t smell it because I was the smell. If you can’t beat them, join them.
However, the bus broke down.
People were exiting the bus to see what happened. So I joined them. About 10 Myanmar men were squatting outside when I stepped down the stairs.
The front of the bus was smoking. The driver and the man from the bus agency were climbing under the bus, already covered in black grease. I could tell this wasn’t the first time they had fixed this bus.
I, too, took a squat. Around me, the landscape was absolutely beautiful. Green pineapple palm trees roared over the rolling hills. The sweet thickness of the morning air, still cool, rested over the road. Snaking through the hills, our highway, a 2 lane road rolling through southern Myanmar laid itself comfortably over the landscape. Not a sound, not a car, just us. There was such beauty in this moment. It was a moment that I felt connected with Myanmar. With the land, its tropical, wild, dense, unruly jungle. With the people, our eyes, smiling, our bodies squatting, resting next to each other. In the same place, at the same moment, from such different place next to the same bus. Then, I had to pee.
I stumbled into the jungle still sleepy and woozy for the night before. As I stepped over the leaves a few critters bounced around under my feet.The morning song the birds were singing was song loud among the deep silence of the thick jungle.
I returned to the bus and the smell and sight of red beetlnut on the highway. The atmosphere of the group was calm, confident in our drivers to fix this bus that had likely driven these roads tens of thousands of times.
Soon enough, the driver ran back into the bus, and a few ignition fires laters our chariot roared back to life, grumbling like a hungry but obedient bear ready to continue rolling. We hopped back on the bus and were on our way.