Bar-headed Geese: These are the highest flying birds in our planet who go through one of the toughest migrations witnessed by nature, having to fly over the Everest (8,842m).
They fly at a 9,000m elevation, where oxygen is nearly non-existent and temperatures reach – 59 ° C; covering a distance of approximately 1,000 miles per day at a speed of 50 miles an hour. Their trick: Having thick feathers, a large wingspan and to hyperventilate while flying. Other than that, they have little sacs that store the inhaled air for a while and then send it back to the lungs one more time before having to exhale it. In other words with one inhalation they breath twice!
July 3rd, 1819: “I want a brighter word than bright, a fairer word than fair..” is what the British romantic poet John Keats, writes to express his feelings in a love letter. But while Keats wrote love letters, years later, Irish poet and writer Oscar Wilde answered questions. In one of his books -“What is a cynic?”- a person asks; and then he answers -“Someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. And a sentimentalist, my dear, is someone who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market place of any single thing”-.
September of last year if I’m not wrong I ‘ran into’ the Bar-headed Geese’s migration story in a documentary (can’t remember which one though). It must not have been more than 3 minutes in which they mentioned the country which up to that moment for me was completely non-existent: Bhutan.
After the short description they gave about this Kingdom I couldn’t help but search its location on the map: Little Bhutan ‘sandwiched’ in between two big countries! After reading more about it I couldn’t help but feeling that this was it; and that I had to go there! At that moment I saw it as the perfect internship destination.
Of course, it was India instead… but as Bhutan was the inspiration for coming to this side of the world and one of the inspirations for choosing the type of internship I chose; there was no way I would allow myself to leave without setting foot on the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon. And I knew that I had to do it on my own, at least this first time…
Thank you Bar-headed Goose!
Now that I’m back in India I am facing a struggle, just like Keats, for finding words to describe this wonderful, beautiful place as well as its people. Because I too, would need a ‘more wonderful word than wonderful, a ‘more beautiful word than beautiful’… This was a very special trip. It was unbelievable, but true. By the end of each day I couldn’t wait for the next one to start.
Every day you would wake up to see Mother Earth’s work of art in the fullest and most majestic of expressions, and what made it even more special was sharing all of it with a good company. Even though it was a short stay, it was long enough for making me feel sad at the moment when I had to leave… We had fun.
So, as at times there are things that go beyond written and verbal descriptions; here you go – the trip through Paro, Thimphu and Punakha summarized with pictures (then again, this is limited by my not so advanced photographic abilities… but I tried!).
The day after hiking the Tigers Nest the trip was over (…if I could have stayed I would have! :D). In the airport though a man, a local from Bhutan who was traveling to Bangladesh, came towards me and a conversation started. Somehow he had picked up that I was a Spanish speaker and he himself spoke also some Spanish, as he had traveled a lot to Costa Rica before.
So we talked while waiting for the airplane’s departure and on the airplane we were sitting all the way in the front, so even a flight attendant that was around my age joined the conversation. Thing is, that by the end I received a ‘lecture’ on what Bhutan’s philosophy of Gross National Happiness is all about and most important what their people think of it.
He asked one question like: “Imagine you want to have a lot of money, or you want something(s) very much… but at the cost of what?”
“SOMEONE WHO KNOWS THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING AND THE VALUE OF NOTHING…” (if you’ve watched the movie ‘The Rum Diary’ this quote may sound familiar). It was what came to mind after all of it.
I must say that I have no other choice but to ‘take my hat off’ to this small country; which is taking up the great role of being a good example for the rest of the world… A treasure with no price; but infinite value!
The flight was over and the flight attendant didn’t say goodbye, but just: “Do come to Bhutan again!”; and later on in Kolkata’s airport the man also didn’t say goodbye but “hasta la próxima!”. There is no ‘goodbye’ word in The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon!
And so, as long as I’m alive and kicking, it is and will be an: Hasta la próxima!
Hope you enjoyed the ‘picture trip’ dear readers.