Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Welcome home!

Today’s turn of events was interesting, mind-blowing, hysterical, and telling of my year to come.  Here are a few snapshots of my day:
I boarded the plane to Paro and took my seat next to two beautiful women in kiras.  I reached for my ipod, running my fingers over the touch screen, scrolling through the songs.   The women nearest me reached for her prayer beads rolling her fingers over them as the flight lifted off.
Landing in that airport was a tell tale sign of why the two women prayed.  Lets just say, if you are afraid to fly, Paro will not be a favorite.  I didn’t realize this until I saw the wings of the plane adjust to land, and heard the wheels screech into place; all the while, with no runway in sight.  The plane weaved precisely though the towering mountains.   The squeeze became increasingly more snug, as the Himalayan corridors closed in on us.   I remember a particular hard left the pilot took, to avoid grazing the earth with the wing.  It was beyond exhilarating.  After one day here, I have already realized, I will make this flight into Bhutan many times in my life.  By the end of the flight, the two women in kiras had written down their number for me and told me they would be my mothers in Bhutan. 
Because there are only a few flights a day into Paro, which are usually at the same time, the slight change in today’s flight schedule left me stranded at the airport with another American (who had coincidentally gone to UCSB. Weird!)  Lucky for us, a man asked if we’d like a lift to Thimpu.  Why not?
            He asked who was supposed to pick me up.  I responded, “Madame Deki, from The Early Learning Center."  Two phone calls later, he handed me his cell phone to speak with Madame Deki, and within the next ten minutes I was in Madame Deki’s car.  “That was the old Mayor of Thimpu who offered you a ride Jennifer”.  This was my first glimpse into the fact that Thimpu is SMALL!!!
            Over lunch, we spoke of a movie we were going to see.  Little did I know, Thimpu is also the Hollywood of Bhutan!  On a much more interesting scale of course.  A man painting a mural in the restaurant had been in the “feature film”.  He introduced himself and welcomed me to Bhutan.  One hour later in a delicious ice cream parlor, I sat next to the two men who not only stared in the film, but were also on large billboard one block down the road.  Hours later, I had coffee in the same shop as the star from Travelers and Magicians.  I was beginning to see how this went, and also decided if I ever wanted to pursue a career in acting; Thimpu could take me to the top, fast.   And I would never have to deal with paparazzi!
            What the town is full of, however, is scruffy, dirty four-legged animals.  I can’t wait to get a dog!  And by get a dog, I mean choose a stray that hangs out near my place.  After all, nobody cages up dogs around here.  I figure I will pick a favorite, name him and throw him a scrap or two when I see him on the way home.  Almost as low commitment as a goldfish!  Fabulous!
            Lastly, a few words on my apartment.  I tell Taxis to drop me at “double turn”.  I am to take my trash out across the road, near the cows, who may nudge me, but not hurt me.  The babbling sewer system outside my window lulls me to sleep along with the barking of my soon to be pseudo-pets.  The view from my bedroom could be on a postcard!  The calendar of my Peru friends looks magnificent against the brightly patterned, hand-painted walls of my bedroom.  The warmth of the sun warms my house by day, and my little space heater and three blankets does the trick at night.  I am beyond delighted with my new home.

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