Monday, January 09, 2006


I never thought I'd be taking refuge in a Buddhist temple, and frankly, the thought of it kind of freaked me out. As soon as we returned to the place where we had left our packs leaning against the temple wall, heavy rain began to fall.

The only shelter nearby was the temple. Its roof extended out over a breezeway and covered one of the temple's side entrances. Two lions sat on the steps, situated symmetrically with one on each side of the wide metal door. Fresh grain and rice offerings were placed with care into the square-shaped opening of a spirit house next to the door. There were little shrines of the kind all over the temple's courtyard. Although we had seen and heard no signs of life within the temple, the offerings let us know that it wasn't completely obsolete, even though the outside was unkempt.

Steve unearthed his "waterproof" (ziploc for those of you who don't speak army lingo) bag from within his crowded pack and began to put our itinerary and other important documents inside. Th one thing I hadn't prepared for was rain. Our trainers had told us that we had come during the dry season when there would be a lot of sun and virtually no chance of rain.

We waited a few more minutes until the worst of the rain had passed. We could tell by the color of the sky that it was one of those Florida showers, the kind that sneak up on you unexpectedly, rain buckets for a few tumultuous minutes, and then leave almost as quickly as they had come.

The grey mass of clouds glided like a lopsided spaceship across the otherwise open sky, taking with it the heavy, pounding rain drops and leaving behind a slight drizzle through which we could easily travel. We shouldered our packs and exposed ourselves to the cool mist. I was glad to be safely outside the temple compound. I kept having visions of disgruntled monks coming out and charging us with desecrating hallowed ground. I have to admit; I was being less than respectful when I stuck a VCD in the mouth of one of the lions next to the door.

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