It was a beautiful 4/20 morning when our day started with breakfast at the hotel in Phobjika. Phobjika is known to be home to the Black neck cranes during the winter when they migrate from Tibet. The valley was finally visible in the morning haze. It was raining when we got on the bus to go to Gangtey Goempa, a temple with a thousand Guru Rinpoche statues; one grand, that’s a lot of Guru Rinpoches! You can make your wishes here: _____________.
Then we came to our final stop of the day where we would rest our tired bodies. It was a Bhutanese farmhouse! We stayed in the altar room. Every Bhutanese home has a room with a shrine with burning butter lamps for pujas, religious rituals. We were advised by Tsewang not to fart in this room. We gathered around the wood-burning stove (careful, its hot!) in the kitchen, the hub of the Bhutanese home, and were served ngaja (sweet tea) with zau (puffed rice). We watched as one of our hosts made puta (buckwheat noodles), pushing with all their weight on the wooden press from which the noodles slowly emerged. Those in the other room watched the second annual bodybuilding competition (looks like someone had an extra serving of rice)! A thighbone donation from these beefcakes would be greatly appreciated. The other women who were not making puta, were busy at work twisting the threads of our kabnes and rachus. We had brought them out to prepare them for the following day’s tsechu at Domkhar but the women quickly confiscated them and took over. In no time at all they twisted the threads into fringes, a task that would’ve taken us all night.
That night we feasted, hard. We had kewa datsi (potato and cheese), ema datsi (chili and cheese/national dish), peas and paneer, to marp (red rice) and cauliflower and carrots. It was by far the best meal ever. We watched Mr. Beans and called it a night eager for tomorrow’s Domkhar Tsechu.
– Sara Mitsinikos and Annie Bennett