Wednesday, February 8, 2012

From High Altitude Teaching to High Latitude Teaching

After two restful months playing Scrabble with my family, I have accepted a new teaching position in Fox Lake, AB. You will be able to follow this next step of my teaching career on this new blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jigs

I have completed my epic journey from Yangtse to Mongar to Bumthang to Thimphu to Paro to Bangkok to Beijing to Toronto to Halifax to Home Sweet Heatherton. Here are scenes from my favourite airport, Suvarnabhumi (pr: su-wanna-poom) in Bangkok:

Halifax as seen from up (the second most beautiful lights in the world) and the faces waiting down below:

And here are the most beautiful lights in the world:

"Jigs" is how the Southern Bhutanese say "cool."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Road to Christmas is Lined with Poinsettias

And monkeys!

And BCFer's! Just happened to run into the boss lady on a roadside in Sengor:

This entry is coming to you from the Paro airport. I will soon take off for Canada via Bangkok and Beijing. Here are my Yangtse next door neighbours waving me goodbye with the flag that I gave them:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

♪ Where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came ♪

If I could offer two and only two words of advice to all future Western teachers in Bhutan they would be "paying guest". A paying guest loyalty arrangement is when you pay a fixed reduced rate to eat everyday at a particular hotel. Note: In Bhutanese English, all "fooding" locations are called "hotels" whether or not they offer lodging; the Dzongkha is "zahkhung".

For the past couple of months, I have been eating dinner for a whopping buck nineteen Canadian per meal at Yangtse's hippest hotel, BAFRA:

Now, BAFRA is not actually the name of the hotel. It is officially the "Thinley" but if you were to tell anyone from Yangtse to meet you at the "Thinley" they'd probably wait for you at the "Thinley Dendhup", which is a great spot for puri and subji but simply isn't BAFRA. BAFRA is so called because the owner's late husband worked for the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority; such is the convoluted nature of place names in small towns the world over.

Anyway, the hotel owner and her daughter have become more dear to my heart than afternoon sunshine:

Tonight was my last meal with them. They whipped up a family specialty for the occasion: egg corn chow mein. It was served with mushroom soup and goodbye hugs.

I am going to miss a lot of places in Yangtse: the lookout at the top of my morning hike, the flower crowded field by Chorten Cora, but I might just miss BAFRA most of all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TYLSS Video Montage 2011

I was elated when in my previous entry, after months of failed attempts, I was able to post a movie. I now seem to have repeated that success with the end-of-year music video I made for my students! I had to lower the resolution a lot to do so but I hope it's still watchable.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Perfect Picnic and a Polka-dot Pig

I absolutely love being a teacher but there might be one thing I love more: not being the teacher. I love that because the school year has finished for my Class V's I can kick back and relax with them, free of the fear that excess chumminess will undermine my classroom management. I am done being an authority figure. Now I just get to be me:

Today a dozen of my ducklings and I went for a picnic.

They chose the most lovely spot near town that I'd never been: Army Camp.

It is kinda like the PMQ's at CFB Greenwood except with communal outdoor toilets, horses, and an archery range:

One of my students who lives at Army Camp introduced me to her mother, who was weaving a kira:

The girls played with their Barbies (whose hair and clothes they'd sewn themselves) and they taught me how to play "burs." It is a simple game; you toss burs at your friend's clothes and laugh when they adhere.

Meanwhile, the boys took photos of eachother doing various tricks and played on a rusty bicycle with no breaks or tires.

And, like at all Bhutanese picnics, everyone consumed an insane volume of food and then worked it off with football.

On the 2 km walk back to town, we stopped by the local pig pens.

Did you know that a sow can stand on her hind legs to look over a fence? She can!

We then ran into a schoolmate carrying a fuzzy tail pelt which we tried on in various ways:

I know some of my readers are anti-fur but have you ever worn a critter boa? It feels wonderful.

We then took a detour down to the river to skip stones:

You also have to pick up a stone to offer at an indented rock where, according to local legend, Lord Buddha meditated after defeating a demon.

It was an amazing day in an amazing place!

And now... my first successfully uploaded video! Look for the tail.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Friend Marten

Strolling on the back road this evening my path was crossed by a fast-scurrying creature that hid in the bushes before I could get a good look. Before my inner naturalist could cry, though, I noticed another of the species staring down at me from the cliff face. This second one popped up on its hind legs and engaged me in a wordless conversation before racing off to join his companion.

This encounter occured the one time I decided to take my walk without my camera. As soon as I reached home I made a sketch in MS Paint:

I then began making my way through Wikipedia's List of Mammals of Bhutan. The black giant squirrel and the yellow-bellied weasel both had the right colouration but were too small and just not quite right. Species identification is like any good puzzle: when you've found the right answer, you know you've found it. I now know that I met a hunting pair of Martes flavigula, yellow-throated martens:

Image source: Wikipedia

I also now know that my memory of things briefly observed is very unreliable. My entire science degree was spent in laboratories sketching dead things and on fossil beaches sketching really, really dead things. It is so much harder to see life when it's living and moving and staring into your soul!