Sunday, April 26, 2009

By Journal to Inle Lake, Burma

Today my characters are taking me on a tour of Inle Lake, Burma or Myanmar as it is officially known. But someone is having memory issues. I think that might be the writer. What did the drive into Inle Lake feel like? I remember it as amazing. But the picture in my mind is not so clear.

Then I pull out that trusty travel journal. Written in penmanship that would give my early teachers hives, but the cramped and uneven writing is more a product of place rather than skill. Written on planes, in airports, in the backseat of cabs, it’s a window into the lives of another people and another country - a snapshot in time from the viewpoint of a voyeur.

I can see clearly the water buffalo that seemed to look right at me as he stood morosely in the field. I remember the speedometer of the cab settled so far left I thought it might be impossible to drive any slower. And then the transport truck appeared from nowhere on the narrow road meant only for one vehicle and it was a relief to know that the driver didn’t have a heavy foot as he pulled over and the truck passed so close that I could feel the heat from his engine through our open window. It was a truck filled to capacity with produce and passengers, they rode inside and outside wherever they could find a place. I remember the woman who waved before stepping down the wooden steps to the water filled ditch where she began to wash clothes. I can hear the shrieks of the little boys who ran naked, splashing in water filled ditches, their laughter echoing over the fields. And closer to town the ditches opened up into swampy grassland and the occasional fishing boat, and always the inevitable water buffalo.

What would a stranger’s travel journal say about me and the place I call home?

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