I have arrived in Bumthang at the UWICE/SFS campus! Bumthang has a different ecosystem than the western parts of the country. There are larger valleys and primarily coniferous forests. I wake up every day to a view of the trees, close, outside my window. The windows on our dorm are intricately designed and we also have a view of the laundry facilities – the prettiest laundry building I’ve ever seen. I’ll try to post a picture soon, but the Internet here does not seem to want to upload photos.
At campus we live 500 feet above the town, Chamkar, at a grand total of 10,000 feet. I have to say, I haven’t felt the altitude as much as I thought I would (although I haven’t gone for a run yet – I’ll probably feel it then).
Tonight will be our first opportunity to wear ghos and kiras. We have a welcome dinner with all of the SFS staff, many of the UWICE scholars, and local people as well, who live on campus and in town. I’m sure people will take pictures, and as soon as I can I will show you what a kira looks like.
We officially started classes today, although we had many guest lectures in Thimphu. This morning we had Land Use, Natural Resources, and Conservation, and then Mountain Ecology. The professor for the first class is from Nepal and has a great sense of humor. He is also studying tiger and leopard interactions in a park in Nepal for his PhD, and used to be a forest guard who caught poachers. I am very excited to talk about conservation with him! The Mountain Ecology professor is from India, and also has a great sense of humor, and has studied an amazing amount of megafauna – Asian elephants, crocodiles, whales…
I think I’ve found the perfect program.
It feels like the top of the world here. I feel like I can touch the clouds when it rains, and in the morning cloud wisps are all around. We are surrounded by mountains, with a view of some of the Jakar valley, and birdsong and caterpillars and butterflies all around. There are tales of the yeti in Bumthang, and it feels like this entire country is forested. I keep pinching myself, and reminding myself that I am here. But where is here? What is this magical place?