It is 8:00 PM and I have been listening to the Monks chanting continuously since sunrise on their electric sound system which emanates from what must be a Buddhist Monastery about two blocks down our little semi-rural road. Mimi and I finally had a chance to follow that road around past the Monastery, past the Bus Depot and past the new housing development (which looks to be struggling?) all the way back to the main highway which then leads to Mawlamyine University, if you take a right, or back to our little house if you take a left. We told ourselves we were bird watching and I did spot a Red-whiskered Bulbul but we were really watching these beautiful and rather exotic peoples. There are Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Baptists!! Yes lots of Baptists. Since I walk to school and home every week day, today we headed back towards home. “Home”? Wow, I called it home. Just been here a couple of weeks so we must be settling in.
I have to mention the Leprosy Hospital which is on the main road just down from the University gate. Built by Americans about 40 years ago, when Leprosy was still a huge problem, it is the only such Hospital in the country of Myanmar which is about the size of Texas (largest country in Southeast Asia) but has a population of about 53 million which is about 3 times that of Texas. Anyway modern antibiotics have mostly eliminated the disease and rendered it very treatable and not nearly as contagious as we used to think.
Then there is malaria. That is another story which we are still working on and will relate soon. This place is hot for sure and very dry with no rain of any kind for three months. But, in two months, they tell us, the “Rainy Season” begins with nearly 200 inches of wet stuff in the following four months. This is hard to imagine since it is so dry here now. Oh gosh, the Monks have just stopped chanting and some lovely sounding bells have also finished their tolling. I guess it is bedtime and time to get under the mosquito net. I can’t wait to get up though. Our neighbor gave us a beautiful ripe papaya which we plan to devour as the Monks begin their Monday morning chants.
Our little House at #2 Timardi Street. We are on the edge of a two acre orchard with Jack fruit trees, mangoes, papayas, bananas, ginormous sweet great fruit like things, and several ornamentals including a hedge of orchids (yellow plant to left of house).
Dave Owens, Emeritus Professor of Biology and former Peace Corps Volunteer