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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Altitude Sickness, Jet Lag, and Diarrhea CHA CHA CHA

Trying to sleep on the plane
Picture of our first 12 hour destination to Seoul

Knowing I wouldn't see my family for a year made it extremely difficult to leave them.  The longest I have ever been away from them even while living in San Diego the last ten years was about three months.  I'm so close to them and love them dearly.  I cried as soon as we got out of the car at the SF airport and sporadically all the way to the check in counter.  As I said goodbye at the security check my face scrunched up like a prune and tears washed my cheeks.  I was a little embarrassed as strangers were staring at me, but I couldn't hold back the loud uncontrollable sniffles.  It was a very sad sight.  

After I got through security, I went to the bathroom and composed myself to meet Tim, the other Bhutan Canada Foundation (BCF) teacher.  Tim and I made our twelve-hour flight to Seoul and met 2 other American BCF teachers.  We had a three-hour lay over.  From Seoul we took a five-hour flight to Bangkok, which felt like an eternity.  Then we had a seven-hour lay over and met five other BCF teachers (three from Canada, one from Australia, and one from the UK).  Finally, we boarded our three-hour Drukair flight to Bhutan, but of course not without making a stop in India to pick up the prince and princess of Bhutan (the King’s brother).  As they boarded, a red carpet was rolled out for them.  It was awesome! 
Himalayan Moutains

I made it to Bhutan.  Hurray!
The flight into Bhutan was breathtaking and I will never forget it as long as I live.   There are only 8 pilots in the world who are certified to fly into Bhutan and it has one of the smallest runways. There are no nighttime flights because it is that dangerous to weave around 18,000 ft tall mountain peaks.  Looking out the window I was surprised at how close we were to these gigantic Himalayan Mountains and I could see every detail of the mountains.  They were right in your face and it felt surreal to swerve through them.  We even flew very close to the roofs of people’s houses on the side of the mountains and I got to film it all.  I was extremely nervous to get on the plane because I've heard people describe the plane ride as a terrifying roller coaster ride, but to me it felt like the plane was gently cradling us as it swayed back and forth.  We didn’t have any strong winds so maybe that’s why there were no passengers screaming and crying for their life.  Landing in Bhutan was one of the greatest moments of my life and I felt like I was adding another home to my list.  Reidi and I kept looking at each other like is this really happening and Tim kissed the ground.

However, the first and second day I had a small case of altitude sickness.  I had a massive headache and was extremely dizzy.  At one point I thought that I was going to fall over because it felt like I was on a ship at sea and the room was spinning a 100 mph.  I had to immediately sit down on the floor so I wouldn't fall flat on my face.  Reidi sat down on the floor with me and held my hands while we did some deep breathing, which helped a lot.  

I also got travelers diarrhea for one night lol.  I had rinsed my toothbrush out in the sink without thinking and used it later.  Whoops! I'm quickly trying to break that habit, but it's strongly ingrained.  I've done it 4 other times since then, so now I'm on my 5th toothbrush.  Jet lag is another problem for most of us.  I wake up at 3 or 4 every morning ready to start the day.  It's so annoying.  Despite all this I actually feel pretty good.  I'm happy to report that the altitude sickness and diarrhea are gone now.  Last night I got my first 7 hours of sleep in several days.  So I'm feeling golden.  Thank you to my body for adjusting!  Reidi said something really profound, "Your body isn't going to turn on you after it got you all the way here"... Yes in some weird way I believe that the universe/God or whatever you want to call it has been guiding me here and will continue to guide me in Bhutan.  I can't wait to see what is in store for me.
I don't know what all this is but Yum!

The food is amazing and is very similar to my favorite Indian restaurants in San Diego, but I am staying away from the chili.   BCF is spoiling us with three course meals and tea/cookie breaks everyday.  I actually think that I am getting a Buddha belly because I keep going back for seconds. 

Dragon Roots Hotel Dinning Room
Our hotel in Thimphu is nice for Bhutan with hardwood floors and marble stairways.  We have hot water, heaters, Internet, and American bathrooms.  They are even doing our laundry for us and the owner of the hotel is very hospitable.  Almost every Bhutanese that I have encountered here in the capital speaks great English and the people are friendly.  I am soaking it all in before I leave modernization and head east to my location next week.  I’m so worried about how I am going to cook for myself for the first time in my life since there are no restaurants or loved ones to feed me.  I only know how to make about a handful of meals, which are not available here.

Overlooking Thimphu
Overall, Thimphu is beautiful and magical.  Sometimes I feel like I'm in a dream, which I kind of am because it has been a dream of mine for the last two years.  I just can't believe that I am actually here and I was able to manifest it.  This gives me great strength and happiness, which I use to push myself forward with or without travelers diarrhea cha cha cha. 


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  2. Sabrina Im so proud of you.You are having a great time in a beautiful country.The pics are amazing and their culture is so interesting cant wait for your next update.Keep smileing it lets me know you are ok.Love you.

  3. That is so crazy, you saw the prince! I am shocked that you were calm during that plane ride I would have been holding my breath. You are much braver than you think!

  4. Coco, you finally found my blog and left me a comment! I'm so thrilled that I jumped for joy to know that I get to share my experiences with you. YA! I have some Bhutanese boy names for your baby like Dawa, which means moon in Dzongkha. We have to skpe soon, give my parents your email and skpe name. I don't know why we didn't exchange before I left lol. Maybe because I was all nervous and stuff lol. When the baby comes, I want lots of pics. I miss you and thanks for your comment about me being braver than I give myself credit. I shock myself at times too. XOXO

  5. I am sooo sorry I have not been following your blog but I am catching up now. My sons name is Jesse Reece (I let his dad name him). He is beautiful and keeps me very busy. He is four months old now and I will figure out soon how to upload pic to you and how to skype! lol

    1. Thanks Coco! I have been thinking a lot about you and your beautiful family. I always think about your new baby boy and I ask my mom from time to time if she has run into you. I'm so glad that we got to spend time together before I left and I miss hanging out with you. xoxo