The trip to Thimphu began at 9:30 (an hour later than planned) and I didn’t crawl into the queen size bed at Hotel Pedling until 10:00 that night. Karma Tempa (the WCP accountant) was driving with another member of the tourism industry to Punakha and he would give me a lift until that point. From there it would be another two hours by taxi to reach Thimphu. His wife and infant daughter were also going to Thimphu, so we would need a taxi that had room for two.
We stopped frequently and the drive went slow since Karma wasn’t as confident behind the wheel as the professional drivers and the road was icy. We took a break for lunch along the roadside and enjoyed rice with carrot or beef curry (I opted for the vegetarian choice) with some gorgeous views. Once we reached Punakha it took almost 90 minutes to secure a taxi that could take two more adults. The little girl would ride on her mother’s lap, just as she had done for the previous six hours of the trip.
It took every ounce of patience and every fiber in my newly-learned meditating body to survive that drive without nerves fraying to the bitter end. We were in a small Hyundai with five adults and one unhappy infant. The monk in the front seat mumbled prayers for two hours and the driver had somehow decided 1990’s rap would be the perfect choice for navigating winding roads in the darkness.
All the tension washed away when I settled into a hot bath and was able to get completely clean for the first time in months (though I did feel bad for the maids who would have the job of scrubbing the ring of dirt the next morning). For the next two days I was shuttled between the office of the videographer, WWF headquarters, and the hotel. I was able to meet up with Jan and Ute one final time for dinner Tuesday night and the highlight of the short vacation to luxury was the long awaited arrival of Mom and Dad’s package.
Monday evening was spent curled up in a brand new Snuggie, snacking on walnuts, and watching ESPN… it was almost like being home.