We were equipped with walking sticks, lightweight Patagonia gear and Power Bars, huffing and puffing through a 3 mile, 2000 vert ft hike to a temple above Paro. And then this 66 year old guy in ratty shoes and a gho passes us, carrying an 80 pound board to the village, a board he milled with a hand saw, to have tables made for his sutras. And he wasn’t even sweating.
First off, let me say that we love our guides, Bill and Tsering. They are walking, talking Wikipedia pages, their knowledge of Bhutan encyclopedic. They answer questions that range from “what is the meaning of the eyes protruding out of that demon’s head” to “what type of rhododendron is that” to “why does that phallus have teeth?”
That said, wilderness quides they are not.
Yesterday, after a bone-jarring, Bonine-not-optional, 5 hour drive on a treacherous road (alas, no pics of the sheer thousand foot drops as I was too busy trying to maintain Buddhist non-attachment to my continuing existence) the bus stopped and we emerged onto a yak-lined road with this valley beckoning…
We began our descent through the scrubby field, following what we were told was an “ancient” path into a dwarf bamboo choked thicket, and crossed and re- crossed the same small creek until Tsering was lost from view.
Seeking peace of mind, I recalled the countless episodes of “Man vs Wild” that I watched with Quinn over the years. Bear Grylls, the star of the show, is a man capable of surviving many days in the wild with nothing more than a paper clip and a parking ticket . I was carrying a lot more that, all of it useless in the event of unscheduled camping with Yaks. Did I learn nothing from those countless hours of viewing!? Why hadn’t I brought a multi tool or a space blanket instead of lip balm and Pepto Bismol?
And then, just as panic took hold, Tsering returned and said he now knew where to go. By the time we staggered into our hotel, I had decided that, Mr Grylls notwithstanding, there really are only two survival essentials:
We lived in LA at the same time. She was Anna’s writing and tennis partner, and my college classmate. She left town and had kids, we stayed in town and had kids. 22 years passed, the kids left home, and from different parts of the world we set off on empty nest adventures that landed us in the same hotel lobby at the same time on the far side of the world. Thank you, River of Kings.
When we saw this Hmong woman in her dirt floor hut in Northern Laos, warming herself by a fire that she’d later use to cook dinner for eleven family members, our guide said life among remote tribes like hers hadn’t changed in 200 years….
…Uh, except for the arrival of the cell phone. That’s her daughter, swapping out the battery…
I haven’t been able to bring myself to cut off all ties to our old life in LA. To wit, I am still subscribed to the LA Fire Department’s email list which is why I happen to know that there have been a slew of Red Flag Days in our old home town lately.
On Red Flag days, the the fire danger is so high in the “brush areas” of Los Angeles that on-street parking is prohibited so that fire trucks can quickly get where they need to go to fight off the raging fires that Fall often brings to Southern California .
I’m thinking I much prefer the red flag days here on Sparrow Bush Road…
Number 2 son is into first semester of off-campus life, living with a classmate. Total cost for coffee table, couch, mini-fridge, and bar cabinet, $160.
And the beauty of being engineering majors is that the appliances they can’t afford, they build. Like this immersion circulator for sous vide cooking….