Thursday morning, Rinchen spoke with us about the 10 rules to be born as a human. The guidelines were quite similar to the 10 commandments. Tobgay helped with the translations as Rinchen's English still sometimes eludes us. After his talk, we meditated together. It was easy to go deep in such a conducive environment. Finally, we had the opportunity to place objects on the altar for blessing. We placed our 2 red marble pieces that Tshering gave us on Wednesday as we hiked up to Kuenzangdak Gompa. We had stopped by a water-powered prayer wheel halfway up the mountain and Tshering found the marble in the stream.
In the blessing, Rinchen read prayers, three rice, poured holy water along the altar, then distributed rice to each of us. At his cue, we repeatedly tossed rice upon the altar, reminiscent of the Durga rituals at the havan at the ashram. After the blessing, we took our official group photo outside the meditation room.
After lunch, we had a lot of fun with archery, the traditional sport of Bhutan. Our drivers and guides set up the range and instructed us in using the traditional bow. Holly's upper body strength to get
Growing wild in Bhutan
Can you identify this plant?
a good pull was way too low, but Brian did quite well in spanning the distance. Hardly anyone actually hit the target. We saw some skilled archers the other day, and it is horrifying to watch how they stand right next to the target while someone is shooting. When a shot is good, those around the target do a little dance of appreciation. Also, the distance they shoot is way far. There are some good images of this in the film, "Travelers and Magicians". We were all much more cautious and stayed well out of each other's way.
With our buddy, Shawn, a delightful young Canadian, living in San Francisco, we went into Jakar, the local town, for some exploring of the commercial center. Jakar is quite small with one main street. It was great to mix with the locals and observe daily life in town. We saw a police officer stand by an illegally parked car, waiting until the culprit returned. As far as we could tell, no ticket was issued, but a "talking to" was in order. It was also afternoon with tons of school children in their uniforms filling the street. The shops were largely "general
Bumthang's main town is small but bustling
shops", carrying a mix of food and clothing. A farmer's market filled an empty lot with an abundance of Bhutan's organic produce. Apparently, there was a serious fire in Jakar last fall which destroyed a good part of the town, but there was no evidence of that to our eyes.
Tonight is our last night in Bumthang. Tomorrow, we begin the journey back west toward Paro with a couple of nights en route...
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