Monday, April 13, 2009

Retreat of Silence

My weekend retreat of silence was perfect. Friday I arrived in Srimongol on the train at 3:30am and bargained with punk CNG taxi driver to take me to the Tea Resort, which is outside of town and surrounded by tea plantations. My room was on the crest of a hill and looked out on a swimming pool, so I began and finished my days with a dip in its warm waters.

The first morning I wandered amongst the tea bushes and waded up a stream banked with burnt orange clay. I wasn’t entirely alone, as I talked with the half-naked little boys washing their brown skin clean and women in petticoats washing their sarees in the creek.

The second morning I hiked in to the rainforest and found a secluded hill to sit on and listen to the many different rainforest noises. Even the rainforest of Bangladesh is filled with life! Not the endless human bodies crowding other parts of the tiny country, but insects, flies, bugs, birds, monkeys, and even snakes crawling, flying, and calling out to each other through the dense foliage. Not all were pleasant, as flies landed on my arms, bugs bit my ankles, and an at least five foot long and four inch wide snake sent me running.

This morning at work I asked Becky if she knew what type of snake it was.

“Hmm, it could have been a python. Did it have any markings?” she enquired thoughtfully.

“Uh, I don’t know. I didn’t look for markings since I was too busy running in the opposite direction.” I admitted sheepishly.

I also saw five or six white-spotted dear at the Tea Resort, and they were surprisingly unafraid of humans. But the highlight for me was the tropical plants and flowers popping up in random nooks and crannies. They reminded me so much of Florida, especially where I lived in the Keys. I saw bougainvillea in salmon, watermelon, and white shades; brilliant red and pink hibiscus; gardenia bushes; elephant ears, many, many amaryllis blossoms, mahagony; different types of palms (sago even!); and jack fruit trees.

Oh, and I tried jack fruit for the first time on Saturday and loved it! Some people claim it’s disgusting, but Bengalis adore it and have made it their national fruit. One of my students told me it tastes like banana flavored bubble gum, which is pretty darn accurate, although I’d add it’s slimier than bubble gum. Jack fruit is kind of slug slimy and even resembles a slug, so probably I wouldn’t have tried it on my own, but a woman from Hong Kong staying at the guest house took a liking to me and brought me a huge plate of it.

My afternoons in Srimongol ended with me heading out to a suitable hill to watch the sunset over the tea gardens. I made friends with a local dog, so I usually had company in my sunset watching.

Last weekend was the perfect escape from life as a teacher in this crazy Dhaka city.


  1. Sounds like a great place to retreat............

  2. Have you tried Durian? Isn't jackfruit like a distant cousin of Durian?

    Great blog by the way. I love the updates. :)