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Drinking it all in

Jakar, Bhutan

We’re up at 4:30 am at my insistence that we experience the site at dawn. The valley is such that your first experience of the sun in the morning is not facing east but facing west, the light illuminating the western edge of the bowl: the fir trees on the western crest. Obvious intellectually, but now made visceral by simply being there and seeing it.

There’s a lot of manure on the site, and not many mature trees, and the sound of the adjacent stream provides a soft and reassuring…not musicality, but perhaps aurality? In any case, the sound of falling trees and chainsaws obliterated it. The logging is prescribed and not at all like the commercial clearcutting we might expect, and a story recognizing the many perhaps responsible uses of land may resonate, but there’s nothing remotely pleasing about a machine killing trees. There’s a challenge to this project.

The former owner of the land, a lady who lives nearby, walks the perimeter with us so that we might understand the boundaries of our plot. I have a Google Earth image and I have a site survey, but I need help overlaying the two. Slowly, simply by spending time there, a conception of how to organize this project starts to take shape in my mind.

We are invited to have breakfast, and find ourselves at a tall and imposing farmhouse arranged around a courtyard.

We shed our shoes on the second floor, and find seats on thick and colorful rugs just off the kitchen. Our hostess offers tea and bowls of rustic maize flakes and cookies, followed by red rice and chile cheese, the latter quite common but here absolutely delicious. One of two sisters lives here alone, the place untenably huge but maintained nonetheless by what must be an absolutely cast iron will.

One room of the house is dedicated entirely to an altar, a candle lit perhaps always, the walls papered with newsprint, musical instruments lying here and there. The house is the opposite of modern, dense and old and rich in color and detail, and while I feel painfully enclosed and claustrophobic, I leave both grateful and impressed. No breakfast is apparently complete without a stiff drink, and so we end our visit with a bowl of arra.

Later we stop at a local brewery to taste hard cider and apple brandy, because, you know, one bowl of booze in the morning will barely get you through to lunch.

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on June 3, 2015 from Jakar, Bhutan
from the travel blog: Bhutan
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Here's a synopsis of my trips to date (click on the trip names to the right to get all the postings in order):

Harmattan: Planned as a bicycle trip through the Sahara Desert, from Tunis, Tunisia to Cotonou, Benin, things didn't work out quite as expected.

Himalayas: No trip at all, just...

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