Weddings, spiders and mangoes

We are down to our last four weeks of school and things are very busy!  Right now Gavin is away up north in the Shan state, previewing the spot where our school is going to be building a village school in a partnership with a charity that puts schools in communities that have not previously had access to education.  Most of the time these villages do not have toilets or other basic sanitation, so the school building provides the community with toilet facilities as well.  Our school will be in a partnership with this school for the foreseeable future, hopefully providing opportunities for students and teachers from both schools to interact and learn from each other.  Hopefully Gav will have more to report when he returns!

The Sunday before last, Gavin woke up with an obvious bug bite on his arm.  It was red and very swollen with some oozing (sorry) from the puncture spot.  We kind of assumed it was a spider that got him in the night.  He complained about it a little, but I thought he was being dramatic-our director got bitten by a spider in bed last fall and ended up in the hospital on IV antibiotics.  I placated him by taking a marker and drawing around the swelling and told him we could find a doctor if it swelled up much more outside the lines.  Then I made him go on an hour long dog walk with me in the sweltering heat.  By the time we got home, the swelling had definitely spread, so we called one of the clinics we heard people go to in times like these.  We could get an appointment no problem, but there would be an extra $95 fee to see a doctor as it was a Sunday.  Of course these things always happen on Sundays-we have a doctor at school who can see you Monday-Friday to tell you if there is anything to worry about, that would be too easy.

We made the appointment and showed up at the clinic (which is bizarrely inside a hotel complex) and were seen fairly quickly.  I guess not too many people are eager to shell out that Sunday fee. The doctor was very nice and didn’t seem overly concerned, but did say he would need to take a swab to see if there were any MRSA bacteria and we would get the results in…5 to 7 days.  This seems to me like a large number of days if you do indeed have a flesh eating bacteria but I guess that’s the best they can do.  He didn’t care what had bitten Gav, so sadly we can’t confirm or deny the spider bite theory.  In true Burmese fashion, they did give Gav the royal treatment.  He was laid out on a gurney while two people worked on him.  Luckily I got some photographic evidence.IMG_6581

Hilariously the doctor announced that Gavin had “extremely hairy hands” and therefore they could not put the bandage on that they wanted to apply.  They contemplated shaving his arm, but the doctor worried the hair would never grow back so they jimmied something else up and told Gav to see the school doctor daily to have the wound cleaned and dressed.  Spoiler alert-it was not MRSA.  He is fine.

Gavin did dutifully go to the school doctor to have her look at it and to change the bandage on his extremely hairy arm.  While he was there, she said “Oh!  I am getting married on Sunday and here is your invitation!”

So, on Sunday we went to our first Burmese wedding.  We did not know what to expect, especially since it was from 9-11 in the morning.  I asked around about expectations regarding dress and presents etc, and we knew that the bride and groom would show up about 9:30 and there would be a little reception.  We had no idea if the ceremony was taking place at this time or what, but we turned up at 9 and got seated right at the front at a table reserved for people from our school.  Sure enough, not much happened until 9:30 when I could see the bride and groom were milling about outside the ballroom.  We amused ourselves by watching the slideshow of pre-wedding photographs that is customary for the couple to take.  It is a very elaborate process, we have seen people taking photos at different places we have been in Myanmar.  The photo up top is of the selfie station at the wedding where you could do your own photo shoot in front of a giant poster of the bride and groom!   At about 9:30 the doctor and her groom processed up the ballroom and sat with their bridal party on the stage for the ceremony.

The ceremony itself was not that involved-there was an officiant of some sort who ran through the service (in Burmese so I have no idea what was happening).  At one point the head of security at our school was called up to put some flower garlands on the couple-apparently he was the one to hire the doctor to work at the school.  At some point the parents of the couple came up and put the rings on the couple and the voila!  They were married.


And then, at 10:15am, everyone was served a roast chicken dinner.  As we were eating, the couple made a bee-line for our table to thank us for coming.  This being Myanmar, photographers followed and insisted on taking pictures of Gav and I with the happy couple.  This made me kind of embarrassed, which of course made me sweat soooooo, I bet those are nice photos.  Sorry Dr. Mon.  Weirdly, people kept arriving for the wedding even AFTER we had finished eating.  The wait staff just brought out more plates of chicken like this was totally normal, so maybe it is.

In other news, it is mango season in Myanmar!  We have been looking longingly at our neighbour’s giant mango tree for some time now, kind of sad that we don’t have one in our yard.


See that leafy green tree?  FULL of mangoes.  And the house is bring used as an office building, so we don’t even know if the people there are taking advantage.  One morning last week we went outside and lo and behold-there was a mango in our driveway!  If the mango hits that shack’s roof just right and rolls with enough velocity, it makes it over the razor wire and straight into our place.  I was a bit sceptical about eating floor mangoes at first, but they are the most delicious ones I have ever tasted.  Now when we are sitting inside, if we hear the thump of one hitting that tin roof, we cross our fingers and hope that sucker lands on our property.

The mangoes are much more welcomed falling fruit than the deadly coconuts that we have falling from our three palm trees.  Those things are bigger than bowling balls and just as heavy.  The other night I thought a firecracker went off in a neighbour’s yard, but it was a branch with 4 coconuts all falling at the same time.  We cannot figure out how to set someone to come over and cut them down before they kill us.IMG_6584

The rains started last week, but only slightly.  I am very annoyed about this as all it has done is made everything humid rather than cool down the temperatures.  I am back to needing an immediate air-con blast upon getting to school as the sweat has started to pour.  The only joy I get in this weather is checking my sarcastic weather app.  It makes me feel vindicated in my weather rage.  Here it is, telling you the weather as I type.  Enjoy.IMG_6614

I couldn’t have said it better.

One thought on “Weddings, spiders and mangoes

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  1. Oh, man! You need to get to know those neighbors! I bet they’d let you harvest some mangoes — if you could get high enough in that tree. I am all for brevity in a wedding, so that one sounds like fun — and quite the cross-cultural experience!


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