We are now winding up our time in the beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan and there is a lot that we will sorely miss.
Top of the list would have to be the students. They are such a wonderfully inspirational blend of innocence, motivated curiosity and diligence for the most part. I have become extremely close to my home class and even though I know that right now they are busy studying for the board exams that they have worried and sweated about for months, I cannot resist the urge to interrupt them daily. I find small excuses to visit the girls in the hostel compound where they must stay and locate the boys at various sites scattered all over the campus trying to avail themselves of the sunshine to thaw out.
They have taught me much more than I could ever have hoped to have taught them. Almost to a man and woman they embody perseverance, patience, contemplation, faith, compassion, a sense of fun and cheerfulness in the face of adversity, the capacity to fend for themselves in the most basic and trying circumstances, resilience, the power of a positive outlook and an open heart, and the ability to appreciate simple pleasures while struggling to survive. These are the traits I most need to learn from them, but I can't honestly say that I have. Whatever I may personally think about GNH I cannot deny that I have never known high school students who giggle so often, and are so prone to bursting into laughter. Without a doubt they are more likely to respond with a smile than a frown and always able to see the benefit of enduring a difficult situation. I can honestly say that I think they are genuinely happy.
The scenery and spectacular rituals, festivals and ceremonies are also burned into our memories and recorded for prosperity in thousands of photographs. For the past month we have been savouring long last looks at the everyday sights that have punctuated our days for the greater part of the last 2 years, whilst simultaneously making the effort to return to favourite local spots before we depart by road from Rangjung. I can no longer imagine a landscape without towering prayer flags, giant prayer wheels, ancient chortens, majestic monasteries or forbidding Dzongs. These sights are so commonplace that for a time we failed to notice and appreciate them. Now the certainty of departure makes them once again dominant.
The seasonal changes in the paddy fields, the arrival and departure of exotic and once unknown bird species and the ever evolving cycle of nature, have entertained and educated us from the comfort of our living room window. We can now identify many bird species by their calls as well as their glorious plumage. We are able to appreciate the labour of love that culminates in the rice harvest and delight in knowing whose rice we are eating tonight. Simple pleasures long lost in the supermarket economies we knew before arriving here.
There will be a sharp spike in the profits at the local post office for the month of December as we have spent almost the equivalent of both our final monthly salaries in postage in the last 3 days! Treasured and precious though not valuable items acquired in our time here are already bound for Oz and more mundane but essential teaching resources and items to facilitate an easy and inexpensive resettlement in Tanzania are also inching their way in that direction. Our fervent hope is that we will get to see them all in the not too distant future in their respective destinations and that a miracle will ensure that they not only make it but also beat us to both places.
I am foolish enough to believe that we will still want to wear the national dress that has been our school-day attire for our time here and find it impossible that it once seemed so alien and medieval. For that reason and the fact they are simply such unique and visually appealing items there are several outfits inside those Australia bound boxes.
Before the exciting new challenge of teaching Maasai students in Orkeeswa School near Monduli we are thrilled to be able to have some time to travel in the States and some much needed downtime in Australia.