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El albergue

El albergue

Monday, July 4, 2011

From Dhaka to Khulna

Friday, July 1, 2:30 pm

We're finally on the train from Dhaka to Khulna, swaying back and forth in one of the cars with the high luxury of small air conditioning units plus electric fans hanging more or less solidly over every few rows of seats.  We got up at the ungodly hour of 4:45 this morning so we could make it to our early train, but after waiting for a little while, we found out that our train had been delayed by at least 5 hours...so we shuffled back through the crowd to our car and went home for to catch back up on some of that sleep we had lost.  When we got back to the station, we found out it was going to be at least another hour and a half before our train actually came, so not having enough time to make it worth going home, we plunked down our bags in an empty spot on the platform and proceeded to wait.  It felt like we were waiting forever, the feeling perhaps heightened by our seeming status as oddities on display - seriously, people would stand a mere couple of feet away and just stare at us, forming a sort of perimeter around our tiny group of four girls.  We sat down for a while on our bags, and the staring seemed to lessen somewhat, probably because we weren't at eye level anymore (or in my case, my head wasn't towering above everyone else's like a billboard screaming "Foreigner! Foreigner!").  But then whenever our driver, who was sticking around to make sure we got on the train we were supposed to, started speaking with us to let us know what was going on, the outlying perimeter suddenly closed in like the neck of a drawstring bag, everyone wanting to know what was going on with the group of white girls.

But finally out train came some time after one, and we managed to find our seats and put at least some of our luggage in the too-small overhead racks.  And now as everyone else tries to snooze away the rest of our 10-hour train ride, I sit peering out of perpetually fogged windows at a landscape utterly foreign to that I grew up with.  The vegetation is lush almost beyond belief, with nearly every inch of space covered in green.  It kind of reminds me of a story by Ray Bradbury in his Martian Chronicles that describes Venus as a planet of ceaseless rain (it's monsoon season here in Bangladesh right now, so that kind of fits) and verdant flora that continually grows, engulfing and obliterating anything and everything on land that stays still for more than a minute.  Of course, I doubt the farmers and occassional cow dotting the intermittent expanses of rice paddies are going to disappear into the fields, but maybe if they stayed still long enough in the more jungly parts....

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