It is no easy journey to Bhutan. When I arrived I
was out of breathe and jet lagged for a week. Globetrotters
Nancy and Bob, however, were champs and hardly seemed not to notice they were suddenly
8,000 ft above sea level and half a day ahead of their bodies. They arrived cheery and bearing gifts of jerky, coffee, protein powder,
crafting supplies, hand knitted scarves and cuddle duds.
spent the first week exploring the Thimphu craft markets, paper
factory, textile museum, observing the weavers, and hiking to several of
the nearby monasteries.
Walking around we were often asked where our tour guide was.
People couldn't figure out what the hell this group of four chillups was
doing unaccompanied. Their experience was most certainly the opposite of
what most tourists are exposed to in Bhutan. The
Charamella's are of the lucky few awarded a guest visa which means they
didn't have to book with an approved travel agency. They're here on our
watch with first row seats to the real Thimphu stye. No itineraries, no $1000
per night accommodations, no buffets, no luxury vans, no bullshit.
rancid smells; wet doma spit that sticks to the bottom of your brand new
hiking boot; manged dogs and decrepit old men mumbling prayers while
they limp clockwise around the chorten; kids with snotty noses
and rotten teeth; monks on Iphones; Royalty speeding up Hollywood Hill
in their Range Rovers. These things are as much a part of Bhutan as the
babies, towering mountains and impossibly placed monasteries that
inspire so many extravagantly worthy adjectives.
Bob and Nancy were down for it all. Totally along for the ride. I
commend them for being so adaptable and quite brave, really, to
leave it all in our hands.
They rented a little apartment in our Rabten compound and we ate dinner at our place each night, sitting on the floor
around the coffee table in our living room as we only have two chairs at
the kitchen table. We had pizza delivered for Thanksgiving dinner. Bob fell in love with the local
momos (dumplings) and made an admiral effort with the spiciness of, well, everything.
The days were gorgeous; hot sun with cool breezes and chilly shadows. We hiked through flag forests, villages and terraced fields. Prostrated barefoot inside temples with freezing wooden floors, sprinkled perfumed water over our heads, were bombarded by playful barking deer chasing each other straight down the vertical mountain, made many dog friends and met lots of characters along the way.