Everyday around 5 p.m., my mother and I take a stroll to a local market half a mile away from our home in Yangon. Although there is a large supermarket chain just a street away, I prefer the small stands, brimming with a myriad of vegetables and fruits that arrive fresh each morning, with familiar, friendly faces that make up the little outdoor grocery. Pineapple, durian, mangosteen, mangoes andrambutan form a colorful and delectable presentation and abundant choices to select from. Here, I have the opportunity to handpick the vegetables I will be eating for my meals and the fruits will accompany my yogurt breakfast. The little walk is a highlight of my time here in Myanmar; it is a great opportunity to have candid conversations with my mother and to get local produce. However, every few days, rain puts a stop to this journey. Now, I am a big fan of light rain — especially when it’s sunny out as well— but unfortunately, Myanmar never experiences that breed of weather. Instead, we get only torrential downpours.

This is simply because these summer months are part of Myanmar’s monsoon season. Of Myanmar’s three seasons, it is, unsurprisingly, my least favorite. While Myanmar’s cold weather is pretty mild by American standards and though the dry season can break 100 degrees Fahrenheit at some times, the rainy season has been known to bring superstorms and tropical cyclones. In fact, when it rains, we can expect at least an hour of hard, fast rain that makes walking to the market almost impossible. Multiple rainstorms during a day are not uncommon. This predictability allows everyone to be prepared by always arming themselves with an umbrella and wearing shoes with traction, lest they wish to be made completely helpless in the middle of a sudden storm.

In fact, in five minutes, a perfectly sunny and clear sky can turn into a dark and stormy horizon. And, just my luck, the rain tends to start just as soon as my arms are full of groceries. While it is possible for me and my mom to just hail a taxi back to our house, I often decline to do so. The frequency of these hard rains guarantees that each weather-necessitated taxi ride would soon add up to an unnecessarily pricey expenditure.

As a result, my mother and I often resign ourselves to walking back as quickly as possible. However, this often swiftly becomes a fruitless effort. As you can imagine, carrying four full bags of groceries while trying to shift an umbrella around to get maximum coverage requires a lot of effort and skill. Add to this equation the uneven pavement, multiple holes in the ground and soil turning into thick mud, the walk can quickly turn into a never-ending difficulty.

By the time I get home, my hands hurt from the burden of the bags. The back of my shirt is wet with the rain that was able to sneak past my umbrella and my legs have wet dirt stuck to them. However, the worst casualty is my feet. I brought only two pairs of shoes to Myanmar (both flip flops) and they do not hold up against the mud and large, deep puddles. I always have to wash my legs and feet with the hose in the backyard before I’m fit to reenter the house.

All in all, while the rain is a nuisance, I love outdoor markets and the cheerful vendors and delicious food they offer, and cannot get enough of them. And each time I go, it makes me miss Georgetown’s weekly farmer markets even more. I yearn for that first Wednesday in fall when all the stalls are on the lawn and I can finally get some shrimp paella again for lunch.

Eng Gin Moe is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. The Golden Land appears online every other week in The Guide.

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