A wake of clouds jets across azure sky from Tawang to Tibet crossing over my rock at Tsenkharla. In the wee hours heavy pellets of rain sounded like applause, an aquatic ovation for another season passed but I awoke into a sunshine daydream of the clear blue bell of morning. Where am I and how did I get here? Were the two thoughts that assembled from the cloudy delusion of my fledgling consciousness. Another long wet summer fades like red roses from the vine a season that began dancing with pixies up at old Tsangma’s ruin in the twilight and ends in sparkling morning light. I can see clear into Lumla where Monyul lasses toil in colorful flowing skirts of phosphoresce lime and lurid cerise flirting about spinning prayer wheels and chattering in sweet tonal Monpa, Good Morning! On this side of the border it’s more reserved reverent prayer and elegant kiras just another Friday in Drukyal. Blessed Rainy Day is considered a kind of second Losar holiday in Bhutan so we had Friday afternoon and Saturday off. I jetted off to Yangtse town to meet Becky and Ian & Vicky two alumni teachers who returned to the kingdom for a vacation. The two intrepid travellers had spent most of the year globetrotting and re-emerged into East Bhutan last week visiting their old stomping grounds in Rangjoon. Friday was a rainy day with clouds blurring the distant peaks socking in the town and hanging over the chalet style edifices on the ridges. Unfortunately Becky and I were delegated back into room number six in the dungeon of the hotel which also has a far nicer upstairs selection of rooms and wooded lounge. Readers might recall this is the room where we bunked last year where I found blood on the pillow case and mould on the sheets. Well no blood this time but the mould was worse than before on the heels of the monsoon and the Karmaling Dream Moths were still plastered to the cement wall. We spent the evening in the lounge catching up with Vicky & Ian, a pleasant reunion of THE FOUR FRIENDS. Much of the conversation was centered on Martha who passed away exactly one year prior. They had spent their morning hanging a horizontal strand of prayer flags within the white vertical stand of flags that had been planted in honour of the late great Martha on a spot near a Chorten overlooking her beloved river. They ran into some of her students who exclaimed “I AM MARTHA” meaning they were her students but in truth there is a bit of Martha in all of us always.
The next day was Blessed Rainy Day a day of repose for ALL Bhutanese who quit the fields, offices, and classrooms to enjoy special food, dance, and drink with their families. We roamed around Chorten Kora and crossed over the rainbow serpent Kulong Chu on a wooden bridge decked with streaming flags. This is the entrance to Bumdeling a National Park that stretches up to 20,000 foot mountains and the barrier between Eastern Bhutan and Tibet. It was a sparkling day with intermittent sun and showers. The oscillating vicissitudes of natural phenomenon gave a fluid context to the earthly characters moving through the landscape. Another evening of merriment in the lounge and an upgrade to the upper floor since the gang of cyclist who had ridden from Bumthang to Bumdeling had moved on that day.
Sunday brought clear skies as I said farewell to my own gang at Zongposo and started walking up the grassy slopes towards Kamdung the rocky top of Tsenkharla. After some time I hitched a ride arriving home before noon where I whipped up some Emadatsi before hitting the trail. It was a hot afternoon as I stopped in the village to play with Sangay Dema and bumped into my former student Pema Tshomo who had transferred to Kiney. I was delighted to see a young girl who has matured and grown into her own this year, she even had a new cropped hairstyle and stylish specks. I lugged myself up to Shakshang Goempa where I saw Karma Eden and her father a farmer in dusty gho. The Lhakang is a hundred and fifty years old with bare wood planked floors, dusty cloth wrapped texts, old statues, and faded tantric paintings on the walls. I received a blessing from the toothless lama before moving up to Namkhar Goempa traversing an oaked ridge. Past Namkhar I found some stunning pasture land where a village woman grazed her horses under the protection of Shampula.
Back at home I read some Ayn Rand before outing the light and slipping into a deep sleep exhausted from a wonderful weekend in Far East Bhutan.
Tim from Timbuktu