Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What I Have Learned Now

It’s easy to forget the little things we take for granted in the states.  I am learning new things everyday!
·      When my bathroom flooded because I forgot to put the washer hose near the drain of the sink, I learned that bathrooms are built at a slant and all the water goes to one place.
·      I have learned how to kneel and balance the portable shower head between my knees so the warm water hits my stomach while I lather my hair, so I don't freeze.
·      I’ve learned to wake with the sun and open the curtains for heat, so as not to run up the heating bill.  Along with this, I’ve gotten use to always keeping doors closed to keep the heat in.  Also to shimmy quickly through the hallways to the heated rooms.
·      After I exploded popcorn all over the kitchen and then held the burning pot outside the window so as not the fill the apartment with smoke, I learned to hold the pot further from flame, and even splurge on a pressure cooker to cook my corn kernels.
·      I’ve learned to love the hot chilies because they warm you up and you can’t escape them.  And to stay away from chilies and cheese.  Enough said.

The spoiled brat in me has to admit that here are few times in my life, when I have actually felt fortunate for simple luxuries such as hot water and electricity.  I am literally thankful for every warm shower I take and every space heater and warm blanket I own.  These are the things that eat up my teaching salary.  I make just enough to get by, and I am only one person who is not sacrificing for children or family.  The thought that my education beyond grade eight, may be the difference between a hot shower and a cold one in the winter, is eye opening to say the least.
Things are different here, and they make you think.  My co-worker’s family passed away from TB over winter break.  Half the schools in Bhutan don’t have access to clean water.  Some villages take 7 days to walk to.  In the remote villages, providing them with newspapers and cell phone towers actually becomes a financial loss to the providers.
The trash systems are still developing, therefore, people dump their trash into bins, which overflow into piles, which cows and dogs snack on, and which gets burned now and then.  Since the bins are right outside the homes, it becomes astoundingly apparent exactly how much waste is produced in a week.  Seeing the trash pile up everyday makes you very aware of the fact that putting one trash bag out per week instead of two makes a heap of a difference.  It sounds super cheesy, but unlike in the US, where your trash is out of sight out of mind, a pile outside your house makes you extremely aware of the amount of packaged food you buy.  I truly believe that if Paseo Ancho had a pile of trash that sat for a month before being picked up, we would think twice about our consumption.
The same goes for buying local.  Unlike in the states, it is totally obvious what is local and what is shipped in.  It is completely common to see cereal boxes that look as if they have been rolling around in the back of a pickup for hours before hitting the shelves.  While it is impossible to buy everything local, the prices of the shipped items, the wear and tear on the boxes, as well as the mere fact that you know they don’t manufacture DC Shoes in Bhutan, makes you think twice about your purchases.
All I can really say, is that making sustainable decisions has become a greater part of my repertoire because the effects scream at you; either by sitting outside your apartment, leaving you broke, or simply because a sustainable option is the only option.  I have to say I feel happier.

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