Forest Fire Safari

The first several days of Nepal were spent in a haze of smoke. Not the normal yellow haze that hangs over every square mile of the subcontinent, but the dense sinister murk of seasonal wildfires. I was already consumed with a second bout of bronchitis, and I reeled at the cruel cosmic irony that drew me ever deeper into the smoldering Nepalese lowlands. We spent a couple of days at the Royal Bardia National Park, where we had been promised the chance of seeing wild rhinoceros and endangered tiger. Our jeep cheerfully bounced along through the burning jungle as if everything were completely normal. The staff were gracious, spirits were high, and it never occurred to anyone to protest. Our guide had to change our itinerary slightly when we discovered that a bridge on the route had burned completely the previous night. We couldn’t help but laugh. Ha ha. Get it?