Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Aungsang in the Rain

I found out yesterday that we would be having five days off work due to the second round of elections in Bhutan. Most teachers from my school are on official duty as polling booth officers around the country, and many students (who are over 18) need to travel to their home town to vote, so that means another break.

It was nice to have a relaxing start to the day and pack our snacks for a walk to a village over the other side of the river, high on the hill. Aungsang is the home of a few students from school who walk about thirty minutes each way to school every day, and I was intrigued to visit. I also heard that Aungsang is a GNH (Gross National Happiness) village and has had assistance to build a weaving room and library. I was particularly interested to check out the library.

The morning was a bit overcast, but at least dry as we set out. We crossed the river and walked up the rocky road that had a very gradual incline. The boys were full of energy and it wasn't long before patches of bright red strawberries appeared by the side of the road and all up and down the hillside. Just the incentive that the boys needed to keep walking up the hill, racing to be the first to find the next big, juicy strawberry!

Crossing the river, near our house.

 Looking across the river to our apartment building on the right - shows that we really are living in among the trees!

It's only the beginning of the monsoon, but fields are green and lush.

Xavier finds the first strawberry!

Wild strawberries were everywhere!

More than enough strawberries for everyone!

About half way, the rain started to come down, and luckily Bob had brought our two big umbrellas so it was actually very pleasant to take Xavier's hand and walk up to the village, slushing around in the mud. We were nearly there, when we saw a family out in the rain preparing a large plot of land for planting. It turned out one of my class 5 students was there with her little brother, getting soaked but seeming not to mind. They escorted us up to the village (Bob lent her our third umbrella) and she was very excited to invite us to her house for tea. We were very happy to take her up on the offer to take cover from the rain and warm up. We spent some time enjoying tea and biscuits by the bukhari and meeting children of the family. When we asked about whether they had a vegetable garden, one girl immediately grabbed a bag and ran outside to fill it with spinach for us, and we were invited to come back in a few months when other vegetables and fruit will be ready.

A warm place to dry out by the bukhari.

Bhutanese cats always love hiding under the bukhari!

Our host and her cute son enjoyed posing for photos.

Xavier was fascinated by the little boy who enjoyed Bob singing 'Round and round the garden goes the teddy bear' and tickling him.

Looking out over the orchard of apple, peach and walnut trees.

Yathra weaving loom had a beautiful view and was sheltered from the rain.

Vegetables included spinach, cauliflower, carrots, spring onions, beans and sunflowers.

The rain cleared a bit and we went to visit the weaving house and library. Five looms were set up for women to use and a large adjoining room was bare except for some colourful alphabet posters that had been put up. I'm guessing this is going to be the community library one day. For now just seven books that were donated by Chumey MSS were on a ledge in the weaving room. I immediately started thinking of how I can get more books for this library and also how I'd like to give all our children's toys to the community when we leave. I'm guessing that through the week, mothers come here to weave and their children amuse themselves - how nice it would be to have some toys to play with!

Large empty room crying out for a library!

The humble beginnings of the library.

Yathra weaving on the loom - I really like the pink!

One lady was weaving when we visited - it looks to me like the yathra have designs embroidered over the top, but they are woven in.
And orange yathra.
Home near the weaving room.

I have two friends still working on fundraising ideas for the school and I'm thinking that if it is ok with them, I'd like to use some of the funds to buy a selection of books to kick this library off. The population of the community is very small, but seeing as they have this lovely building, it is a shame that it is still so empty. A friend I have made through FMS Photo-a-day is raffling two hand-made quilts and proceeds will go to our school. Anyone interested in buying a ticket, or simply making a donation can contact me and I will pass on her email address - the raffle will be drawn at the end of June. 

Aungsang temple.

Xavier and Remy always love spinning the prayer wheels.

Walking home, Remy wanted to 'mud ski' - the road had turned to slush very quickly.

And looks like tomorrow we'll be heading west to Trongsa for a couple of days catching up with Kyle, Sarah D and Valerie. Can't wait!

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