The snows held off. This past weekend we finally made it out of Thimphu, our guide, OR nurse Sonam.
I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. They stoically endured hours of vomit inducing mountain roads (Jen and Lily were the only ones to avoid a purge) in a tiny car that smelled oddly of lemon Pledge.
In Phobjika valley, winter migration grounds for the blacked neck crane, the kids politely sat on the floor of a farmhouse and ate red rice, fried fresh cheese, and pork belly. While they didn’t clean their plates, they also did not balk or turn up their noses to our host’s meager offerings.
In Punakha we visited the city’s Dzong (a mixture fortress, monastery, government offices, and court house). The Lama of the Dzong was impressed that we made the children wear Kira as a sign of respect. So he invited us to celebrate one of his junior monk’s recognition as master mandala maker. Mandalas are the highly symbolic art pieces that are painted on buildings, and canvas throughout the Buddhist world. In some ceremonies, the artists spend weeks creating mandalas of colored sand only to sweep it away in an acknowledgment of the impermanence of reality.
For our hosts, the party we joined was bit like an office event, celebrating a promotion. The celebrant’s family was present, and naturally, they insisted we partake of the food. Again, the girls rose to the occasion. Taking cues from the monks, they balled up rice and ate with their hands, in local fashion. They sipped at tea I know they dislike, and Lily sampled an egg of unknown vintage that even I avoided. If diplomacy can survive our current administration, my girls may have a future in it.
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