Warning From Mt. Olympus (Pyin U Lwin, Burma)

Bad news bears – Illness – Hermes appears – Oops, sorry Ares – What to do? – Onwards!
After yanking off that palmister’s good luck bracelet, I was beginning to feel tired and queasy. I needed a reprieve from the noxious smog of Mandalay, I needed to escape the low valleys of Burma and take a deep breath of fresh air in the Shan Hills. I decided to go to Pyin U Lwin, a small town with horse-drawn carriages and colonial-style houses.
Colonial style houses…and a massive military academy! To make it worse, the entire village was strung along a busy highway. It was anything but relaxing. My guidebook didn’t mention that! It was akin to visiting California and staying in a combination of Oceanside and Lone Pine.
I tried to be friendly to the soldiers, but many of them eyed me suspiciously. I could see what they were thinking, a product of the propaganda their government tells them. Damn foreign stooge! Why do you try to interfere with our domestic political concerns? We will repel your influence in the name of The State! Give us your tourist dollars and be rid of you! 
I fell ill quickly and painfully. I spent days in bed, trying to muster enough energy to take a bus out of town to a place more relaxing. The highway screamed through my window all day and night. I emerged from my dark cell for only an hour a day. My pallid face was gaunt and my eyes were sunken into my skull. I looked like hell.
Then something extraordinary happened. I was lying on my bed in agony when suddenly a bright light appeared at the foot of my bed, glowing yellow and materializing into the shape of human. What is this? Is that…ohhh, its my homie Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods!
“What’s up wing-footed Hermes, what ya got for me?”
“I bring to you a message from the gods on Olympus. One month ago, you met a beautiful golden haired damsel on the beaches of southern Thailand, did you not?”
“How could I forget?”
“That damsel was the daughter of Zeus, Aphrodite, disguised as a bronze skinned Swede. Her lover, awe-inspiring Ares, god of war, followed her from Mount Olympus and saw you walking down the beach together. He returned to Mt. Olympus in a rage and began to rally the support of his fellow gods, vowing to crush you and end your journey.
“It was not that funky chicken fried rice that has made you sick, but an arrow from Apollo of the Silver Bow that ails you and binds you to this bed. Mt. Olympus is divided on this issue. Ares has the support of Apollo and probably Zeus, who rules from Mt. Ida, the greatest and most glorious god, lord of the lightening flash, cloud-gathering, far-thundering-“
I cut him off. “I get it. I’ve got the most bad-ass gods against me, trying to prevent me from reaching my dream of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Well who the hell is on my side, and what can I do to get out of this alive?”
“You have Zeus’ wife, Hera, and his daughter, Athena, goddess of wisdom…and of course, Aphrodite, goddess of love. Hera sent me this magical elixir to heal you.”
He handed me a small vial of liquid. “Hermes, what the hell is this?”
“They call it Antibiotics. Drink this with plenty of water and try to get some rest. For three days eat plenty of plain food, such as plain rice and noodles. If you are not better in two days, go see a doctor.”
I drank down the potion. “Is there anything else, Hermes?”
“Yes. You must constantly be on guard for Apollo’s arrows of sickness. To do this, avoid tap water and wash your hands regularly. Also, beware of Delusion, daughter of Zeus, goddess of blind folly.  She will trick you into making irrational and stupid decisions with disastrous consequences. In short, love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe. And it wouldn’t hurt to make a sacrifice to Zeus, maybe he will be swayed by your devotion.”
“Thanks for the heads up, Hermes.  Take it easy buddy. And tell Aphrodite I say hello.”
“Will, do homie. Best of luck on your journey.” I slapped him our secret handshake and he disappeared into the night.
So there it was – I had somehow evoked the ire of half of Mt. Olympus. I always knew the odds were against me, but this was something different.
I bought a lamb and sacrificed it in my hotel room. I roasted the meat and saved the fat and a glass of red wine for Zeus.
A day later my health was restored. I was impressed with this magical Antibiotic solution, they really should start selling it at Rite-Aid.
I packed up my bags and continued on the Burma Road, up into the Shan Hills and closer to the Chinese border. For the next few days I would relax in the quiet town of Hsipaw. Onwards! Hera protect me!

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