****MYANMAR**** An early farewell (EN)

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As I lay down in my bed, feeling the impact of my little adventure of today,

I had realized that it was out of question that I was going to continue my way.

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Sleep tight. Myanmar. Sleep tight.

And so our farewell came,

earlier than expected.

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Here at Inle Lake, on the 8th of March

I came to the decision for the first time in my trip

that my final destination had been reached,

even before I reached the finish.

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I close my eyes as I think back of all those encounters,

that had made an incredible impression.

I think back to all those countless special moments,

on the night before I leave the country.

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Sleep tight. Myanmar. Sleep tight.

Unfortunately, our farewell came,

earlier than expected.

****

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And I think back to how I met this energetic and quirky girl, just along the way.

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Follow me, she had said, and with a small detour of twenty kilometers

she introduced me to her small village that day.

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The same age, the same questions on our mind.

Being brought up so far apart,

but yet feeling so significantly similar to each other.

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We went on a small excursion to the watermelon field, just around the corner.

With cow and cart. Just like my grandparents did when they were young.

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Enjoying the presence of all of them. Especially with these curious and funny little kids around.

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And as father and daughter, went for a little walk on the field.

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We imagined ourselves to be in Venice for a little photoshoot

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‘You are so beautiful’ is what she said when she looked me into my blue eyes,

So are you, I said, as I took her this gorgeous picture right before sunrise.

*****

I think back to how I was taken in to the family,

all so naturally.

even though it was against the rules of their regime.

But I will also never forget how the father was guarding the house outside all night,

just to make sure that their visitor would be all right.

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I think back to my most special stay, in this little temple that I passed on my way.

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With the little English that we spoke,

a whole new world had unraveled right in front of me.

A world that so far was unable to be questioned in any way,

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The world of little monks that grew up with the conviction of wanting to become big monks one day.

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And the world of their mothers who are still taking care of their sons,

in their very own way.

Being strongly connected to their daily temple-life of today.

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Little blankets were put on the floor,

and that’s how they managed a shelter for their visitor.

And so I ended up spending the night,

with both this mother and this monk by my side.

*****

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And I think back to that evening that I ended up in a hotel room with four ladies.

After I had previously been stranded in their small little village.

I had become acquainted with the whole family.

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What do I say, the whole village indeed.

Including the head of the village to be precise.

What an honor to meet you, I told him twice.

With all his kindness and enthusiasm he had spoken to me,

although his message was less rosy:

how much they would have loved to have taken me in,

‘we all know it’s against the rules of the regime’.

So we started our little ride in the middle of the night,

with these five ladies and two policeman by my side.

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And it wasn’t until we finished the negotiation and opened the hotel door

that we saw this massive bed,

and I asked the ladies,

why don’t we all stay here instead?

With a big smile on our face we said farewell,

without a question the funniest night in Myanmar.

No need to tell.

…..

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****

Myanmar, o Myanmar.

It’s the country where the watermelons are bound on the back of your bike,

without the slightest chance to pay for them as they insist that you accept them as a gift.

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It’s the country where the girls from the petrol station share their lunch with you,

without words, unsolicited.

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Where your bottles with ice-cold water are wrapped in newspapers,

because of that intense heat during the day.

It’s the country where you can feel that the people are taking care of each other,

in this very sincere and honest way.

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It’s all of this that would make me stay.

*****

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But I also still felt the impact of camping against the rules, and the fear of being caught.

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I felt the impact of an army that has the power to deny me my way, for several times.

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And I still felt the strong doubt,

that came along with every time that the people had taken me in for the night,

questioning myself whether I had not put too many at risk for those who had helped me out.

****

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Myanmar o Myanmar,

 our farewell came earlier than expected.

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And so this girl was about to leave her pack.

About to cross the borders to the next country instead.

After all, that is the privilege that belongs to our kind,

it’s the privilege of a traveler, par excellence.

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As travelers, we cross borders and sometimes we push those borders to the limits.

I leave the country with a warning in my pocket.

I’ll get away with that. For me all is fine.

But for the people here in Myanmar,

it’s a completely different time.

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*****

It is their infinite goodness that I will always remember.

Infinite goodness,

framed in the merciless strictness of a corrupt regime.

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And although I would like to believe that the good always overcomes the bad,

That the soft learns to endure the hard …

When it comes to Myanmar,

I leave the country with infinite questions

….

Infinite questiones

that arose,

straight from the start

*****

-with love-

Janneke