The bus rides high about the valley floors of central Bhutan as we wind our way along the mountains of central Bhutan. The forested mountains are often covered in fog. The mist seems to gather on the roads and in the trees, surrounding us in a sense of calm, quiet. If you listen carefully, you can hear, beyond the drone of the diesel engine, the deep quiet of the region. A stillness rests on the shoulders of these massive hills.
In a couple of places on the journey, one can see the road far across the valley. At one place in particular, not far from Trongsa, you can see the road contour around the mountain side, turning in the crook of the folds in the hills, rising up again on the other side of the valley. The road stretches for miles and yet, if you had a bridge or really long rope swing, you would quickly make it across, cutting hours off the drive.
Suddenly, on one side of the road, you notice a collection of houses just before you reach Trongsa. This small community, Tsangkhap, clings to the sides of the hills, fields cut out of the hillside below the houses. Dirt roads meet the main road here, with fields and farms dotted along these ancient tracks.
Here, in Tsangkhap, we stop at the Trongsa Central School, renamed for its now significant role in teaching students of all ages who live nearby. Year after year we come to the school to meet with students. The school grounds are humble and the mood is high as we walk onto campus. As soon as we are spotted an energy runs through the community and we gather in the open area in front of the school to hang out.
After our time at the school, we walk into the village, visiting our guide’s home. His mom is there preparing tea for us as we walk into the house. The fields surrounding the house are verdant with deep hue or green, the wind gently blowing the tops of the wheat.
We are served tea and sit on the floor, relaxing or a moment or two. The tea is black, with a little milk from the cow, and a small handful of rice, dried and baked. The drink is filling and the taste is sweet. We talk about the day, hear Namgay’s stories about the yeti who lived in the forests nearby, and the tale of a yeti who married a man. Our time in this place is all too brief as we head out again, walking deeper into the village.