Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wet Picnic in Yakgang

My class 6A students and I had planned another hike and picnic for today. Many of the kids wanted to hike to Yakpogang, 14 km round trip mostly on the main road. I said I'd prefer a shorter and more peaceful route, away from vehicles, and managed to convince most of them to choose Yakgang, a distance of only 6 km. The kids wanted a "wet picnic" which is the term they use for a picnic involving cooking food. They planned it all and designated who would bring what. I asked what I should contribute, but they insisted I should just take a bowl, cup and spoon. We agreed to meet at the school at 9:00 this morning (Sunday), as long as it wasn't raining.

It was raining when I woke up, and still raining at 8:30. I had already switched my thinking to a relaxing day at home. I was still in my pj's, enjoying my tea and skyping, when I heard kids' voices outside. The rain had just stopped, they were keen, and had come to get me. I told them to head off to the school in case others were there, and I would follow as soon as I was dressed.

The rain started again, but 18 kids showed up, full of enthusiasm. I didn't want to disappoint them, so off we went. Most of them were wearing ghos and kiras, because they had also planned to drop in at a temple in Yakgang to make an offering. Not the best hiking attire, especially when wet.

We had fun, despite the rain. The kids identified a few different fruit trees along the way, with fruits I have never seen before. One was a tree of small golden berries, the name of which translates as "God's stool"(turds). They weren't ripe enough to eat, but even an unripe one was quite tasty.

I didn't think the kids would be able to get a fire going in the rain, but they did. Without any help from me, they prepared an enormous pot of rice, a vegetable curry, and ezay(chili side dish). The rain stopped while lunch was cooking, and they had lots of fun playing. Some took turns riding recklessly down the hill on a bike with no seat. Others played badminton (rackets appeared from somewhere), performed gymnastic moves, sang, and played clapping games. Bags of junk food were consumed as appetizers.

In the rush, I had forgotten my dishes, but Tenzin Namgay let me use his. He ate his lunch off a large leaf. The lunch was delicious. In that atmosphere, I enjoyed the typical food much more than usual. We finished with some thick slices of fresh cucumber to quench our thirst.

We've already chosen our destination for our September hike. We are planning to go to Wengkhar, which is an agricultural area with a research station.

The four kids who came to pick me up.

A family was busy getting the maize off the cobs.

Our picnic spot was under this giant cypress tree.

Men playing the game of kuru (darts)

This area is always a mudslide. It is a very dangerous section of road.

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