Sunday, May 29, 2011

Feeling Capital in the Capital

Finally, I am all better! I was very pleased to complete my recuperation in Thimphu at the peaceful home of the BCF's executive director Nancy. Between visits to the National Referral Hospital that culminated in a not-at-all-terrible diagnosis, I read, relaxed, and stocked up for my return to teaching.

Here are three things that made me smile in the big city:
1. Pizza! I had a lovely meal at The Zone today with fellow BCF teachers Sue and Matt:

2. Trinkets that I did not expect to see for sale so far from Canada:

3. The Swiss Clock tower, my favourite haunt from Orientation Week, which I revisited on a walkabout with my new friend Kat:

I feel energetic enough to get back to my students, just in time for the big midterm test. Home Sweet Trashiyangtse, here I come!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On Top of the World

Except for several thousand jealous young ladies, every person in this country is bursting with joy! Yesterday, our beloved king His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck annouced in parliament that he will be married this October! None of the fuss over William and Kate comes close to the happiness here. It has quite been the cure for my feverish malaise.

That said, I am currently heading West to big Thimphu to visit the hospital there and hopefully have diagnosed what made me so sick. I want to be better safe than sorry that it wasn't something that could relapse and smash me. I am currently in beautiful Bumtang beginning Day 2 of the two-day journey. This is one of my favourite places in Bhutan. It is high up and chilly. I'm writing this all wrapped up in wool blankets hardly believing that I'm such a short distance from the sweaty Mongar jungle where yesterday a hornbill flew over my head. (He was magnificent!)

I drove for the first lag with engineers working on the incredible airports project. Bhutan is quadrupling its number of airports in a single go. There is one being constructed in the South, one here in Bumtang, and one near Natalie's place in Trashigang. Come July, a sick Trashiyangtse teacher will be able to get to the Thimphu hospital in three hours instead of three days! We had such an amazing drive, though, that I doubt I'd ever choose to fly it. We listened to science programs on the radio and stopped to see the five colours of rhododendrons that bloom below Bhutan's highest pass:

For today's lag, I have the pleasure of driving with BCF staff Meena and Nima.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Still Sick

I am on the Western edge of Eastern Bhutan in the mountainside city of Mongar. It looks like the Caribbean here with tropical flowers and birds and fruits unlike anything in Yangtse. I am convalescing in "The Palace" under the care of BCF'ers Julia and Charlie. They are giving me hearty American comfort food and treating me like a daughter.

There is no point in my returning to Yangtse until I can go the length of a teaching day without sleeping. My chief complaints are a fever, which gets quite high from time to time, aches in the most random places all over my body, digestion trouble, and fatigue. Even small attempts at exercise wear me out completely. My symptoms started with teeth-chattering chills on Easter Monday, April 23, which was the last day that I taught. I was well cared for in Trashiyangtse by my dear vice principal Madam Sonam but decided to undertake the difficult* journey to the Mongar Referral Hospital when I fainted after a none-too-vigourous walk.

My constant thought is of the Class V maths textbook: where we are, where we should be, and where we have to reach for my students to pass to Class VI. There is so little time and I'm wasting it lying in bed in pain in Mongar reading Anna Karenina. The full force of my will can't convince healing to be hurried.

*this is comical understatement

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teachers' Day

Today I was allowed my first outing since becoming bedridden with typhoid. I witnessed our school's celebration of the greatest holiday ever: Teachers' Day! This picture is a little misleading because I look healthy and full of zest, but it does show the banner nicely as well as my new *real* kira:

To start the day, the teachers went to the shrine in Chorten Cora to light lamps:

Then, we went to the school to see what the students had cooked up, which was cake!

And Dzongkha dances:

And songs:

And cards... this one is not for me. You can tell because it is in Dzongkha.

This one is for me!

And presents! I highly suspect this one of being a pen...

It is! In fact, I recieved ten pens and a beautiful tea cup:

And sandals from the daughter of the Vice Principal who has taken me in for the duration of my illness. In Bhutan, bathrooms are splash-cleaned and everyone wears sandals when using them to avoid wet feet. I didn't have any. These ones are so comfortable!


It was a wonderful day but thoroughly exhausted Sicky McSickerton. This is the view from my recovery room during the afternoon rain in between two very long naps: