Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Days

It's funny for me to think of summer in June, but all of a sudden it is hot and gorgeously sunny - my favourite time of year. Summer holidays begin today for the lower primary classes- one month of freedom and hopefully sunshine stretches ahead of them.

Early morning view out our kitchen window.

A beautiful rose growing at school.

The potato field over the road from our house - when we arrived was just dry brown dirt, now is lush and nearly ready for harvest.

Walking home for lunch in the hot sunshine.


Although I don't have classes to teach, I'm not quite free yet: I am required to invigilate the upper grades' exams and also help mark highschool English tests every afternoon for the next two weeks!

At assembly this morning it was announced that school would be cancelled  for the day and all students sent home so the teachers could have a meeting. Strange but not so uncommon here! My class twos had their final Mid-Term test scheduled so we went ahead with that, and as it was my last day with the kids I had planned to do some fun art with them afterwards to celebrate. Just as my last student was finishing his test I was called to hurry up and get to the meeting, so unfortunately I said a hasty goodbye to my students and raced to the meeting, missing out on the art we'd looked forward to.

I had the afternoon free, and with Bob off for his first bike ride up and over the Kiki-la pass, I had time to spend with the boys. I packed a bag with snacks and we crossed the road and walked for two minutes through the forest to the river. On the way a group of my primary students from class 1 - 4 greeted us. The class 4s were dangling text books from their hands in an attempt to look like they are studying for tomorrow's Dzongkha test.

Apparently it was 30 degrees this afternoon, and if I'd been better prepared with some type of swimwear I would have jumped in the river with the kids. With little concern for modesty the boys and girls all stripped to their underwear and had a wonderful time in the waist deep water. Not a parent was in sight - the kids here lead an existence which must be somewhat like it was two or three generations ago in Australia - the freedom to come and go as they please - no parents with sunscreen and hats and bottles of water or snacks - just the safety in numbers of a mixed age group - and fun and freedom.

A perfect natural swimming pool between the rocky 'white water' stretches of the river.

Nature's paradise!


I tried to stay on the sidelines so as not to spoil their fun, although I think they were happy for my presence. Xavier and Remy stripped to their undies and went into the water up to their waists, the older children holding their hands and taking great care of them.

Remy spent most of the afternoon sitting on the sandy river bank covering himself with sand and building himself a 'car' out of pinecones and sticks. Xavier enjoyed wading in the water, and talking with his friends - this group of kids is very familiar to us now.

After lots of fun in the water, the kids were covered in goosebumps and shivering despite the hot sun. None had a towel, so they surprised me by producing a box of matches, collecting sticks and lighting a fire in a matter of minutes - such resourceful and mature children. They stood by the fire and warmed up and then washed their sandy clothes in the water and dried them by the fire. I was waiting for one to dive in and catch a fish with their bare hands to cook on the fire!

I loved watching them from a distance enjoying each other's company, building things with sticks and skimming rocks across the water.

I noticed one of the little girls from my class 2 was looking very sad, hunched over and crying. It turned out that one of her plastic sandals had probably washed away down the river and couldn't be found. She knew she was in for a 'beating' from mum when she got home and it must be something to be feared as her usual carefree demeanor was replaced with worry and sadness.

It broke my heart to see her so sad, and I told her to come home with us later and I'd give her the money to buy some more.

Meanwhile after a few hours in the sun, we packed up to go home. As we were leaving the kids collected some wild strawberries near the path and one of the girls noticed some growing between some large rocks. I was walking ahead and didn't hear a scream or any sound, but the girl fell and gashed her leg terribly on the rocks somehow. She had a deep cut to her shin and lots of blood - and although it must have been terribly painful she was making only the quietest of whimpers. I offered to carry her but she bravely walked home, no crying, just a toughness that I imagine comes from a childhood spent fending for yourself.

The little one who had lost her sandal reluctantly came to our house and accepted the money to buy new shoes. I didn't know what they'd cost so I gave her 200nu ($4) and she seemed much happier and relieved.

Not long later she came back to return 100nu - they'd only cost 100nu and she was very honestly returning what she didn't need. This impressed me so much as I have had a constant stream of things stolen by students here - so much so that I had long given up hope trusting any of them. But here was an example of a little girl who knew to be honest and grateful. A very heartwarming way to end the afternoon. Bob just saw the girl who hurt herself and she was all bandaged up and doing fine. The kids here are certainly self-sufficient and resilient. And Bob will feel sore tomorrow from his 40+ km ride up and over Kiki-La pass (2980m) and back - laden down with a bag of fruit and veg from the market - but for now he feels energised and happy to know he made it.


  1. Beautiful post Andrea We are taking even more interest in your blog now

  2. Thanks Vicky, and I can really relate to yours too as we enjoyed 3 lovely weeks in Thailand at the start of the year and are returning on way home. By the way, not sure if you are seeking an international school experience but 7 years ago when we went to Vietnam we checked out the Aus International School in Saigon - I loved Saigon and stored that school away as an idea for the future!