Friday, October 9, 2009

Farewell Thoughts of Bhutan

[Written by Cynthia Oct 8th, 2009]

In some ways Bhutan seems like a much larger country than it actually
is. In this small country there are 14 dialects and 16 different
ethnic groups. It seems surprising that it developed a national
identity centuries ago. It is likely that the strong spiritual
practice of Buddhism is a major factor.

Although it is less than 400 miles across the main transportation
route, the east-west highway, it takes two full ten hour days to drive
that distance. This drive is not for one subject to car sickness. The
road has few sections that are straight for as much as 20 feet as if
winds up and down through the mountains which cover most of the
country.

We found ourselves grateful to have arrived back in Thimphu just ahead
of the recent unseasonable 30 hours of continuous hard rain. It is
likely some of the road we just traveled has been blocked by
landslides. Yesterday in traveling 2 hours to Paro, there were many
large rocks and a few huge boulders on the road making travel
hazardous.

The only airport in Bhutan here in Paro was completely shut down
yesterday and we are uncertain what it will take to catch up as only
one airline with two planes flies into this airport. We are scheduled
to fly to Kathmandu tomorrow and will wait and see if flights are back
on schedule. As I write, the sky is clearing and I just saw a plane
take off.

We feel concern for trekkers in the mountains when this storm
occurred. Hiking here involves crossing many streams and rivers, often
by balancing on logs or jumping from rock to rock. Many of these
temporary "bridges" many have washed away and some of the more
permanent ones may be damaged. I am certain that the people living in
the mountains will find ways to get trekkers safely down but it may
take some time.

As I look out my window there are already white sheets, towels and
pillowcases drying on the line and things are getting back to normal.

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